It seems like just as soon as you put a new ink cartridge in your printer, you use it up – especially those darn color cartridges. I remember when I was in college, I felt like I went through printer ink like crazy. With all the papers you or your kids print off, I bet you have a few empty ink cartridges at your house now.
Chances are you probably just toss those used cartridges in the trash. However, the plastics and inks used to make printer cartridges contain harmful chemicals. According to Castle Ink, printer cartridges may take up to 1,000 years to decompose. Furthermore, they estimate nearly 8 out of 10 cartridges end up in landfills. Each printer cartridge you throw in the trash will sit in a landfill for generations. That’s just plain gross, particularly if there’s something we can do about it.
So what can you do about the ink cartridges that pile up on your desk at work or home? Recycle them of course! Not sure how to go about recycling your old printer cartridges? No worries! I’ve got a few suggestions for you.
Many printer cartridge manufacturers, with help from the Environmental Protection Agency, started offering ink recycling incentives several years ago. The best part about this program is a majority of cartridge manufacturers will send you a prepaid envelope to mail back your cartridge – making it convenient for you to recycle from home at no cost. Most cartridge packages have phone numbers or websites to visit to get more details.
You can also return your used cartridges to stores like Staples, Best Buy, or Office Depot and get cash back or reward points. Usually you’ll get between $2 and $4 back per cartridge. It doesn’t seem like a lot, but if you go through even 10 cartridges a year that’s at least $20 back. Many office supply stores will also fill your old cartridge with new ink for a discounted price if you so choose.
You could use those old cartridges as a fundraising opportunity at your school or community organization. Charities like Habitat for Humanity and the United Way use sites like Recycle4Charity.com or FundingFactory.com to organize recycling drives to raise money. Not only do these two charity recycle programs accept old printer cartridges, they also will take small electronics, like iPods or GPS systems, and cellphones as well. Many recycling charity programs offer lists of items they’ll recycle as well as the cash you’ll get for each item.
Maybe instead of having a bake sale to raise money for your school this year, try a recycling fundraiser instead. Not only does it raise money for your school or organization (potentially thousands of dollars), it provides people with an outlet to recycle ink cartridges or electronics that might have ended up in landfills. It’s a win-win for everyone.
There are plenty of options for recycling your old printer cartridges and you can even get money for turning them in, so why not start recycling them? Hewlett-Packard’s printer cartridge recycling program notes they prevented nearly 20 million pounds of used ink containers from going to landfills. Taking the few minutes to investigate recycling something as seemingly insignificant as a printer cartridge makes a huge impact – especially if we all make a commitment to do so together.
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