This I Have Learned… The Art of Recycling/Repurposing

Mary Jo Bellner Swartzberg

Do you ever get a queasy feeling in the pit of your stomach when you see food go to waste in restaurants; when you know that your garbage is merged with cans, plastics, and glass bottles; or knowing that people do not recycle at all? You are not alone. Americans have such a cavalier attitude when it comes to being efficient in a green sort of way. The question to be asked is, “Why don’t we take recycling seriously?”

There is a lot of research out there on the topic of recycling. has an article titled “Recycling in Tucson: Are we doing enough?”

Here are a few takeaways from the article:

According to Waste Management, only one in three Americans actively recycles.

A spokesperson with Waste Management indicated that as recycling is becoming easier, the popularity has increased in Arizona. This does not mean we are doing enough.

In fact, a recent Environmental Services survey found that approximately 90% of Tucsonans regularly set out their blue barrels for recycling. Unfortunately, 20% of the material put in blue barrels is not recyclable.

The real concern in Southern Arizona is not that people are not recycling enough, but that they are not being educated on how to recycle.

I was surprised to learn that the state of Arizona recycles roughly 15%, which places the state in the lower ranking of state recycling.

And we think of Arizona as a pristine state!

Nonetheless, here are some suggestions for recycling:

The Golden Goose, Goodwill, and other not-for-profits: anything that is clean and good for resale

Lowe’s in Marana: plastic plant pots, rechargeable batteries, light bulbs (e.g., fluorescent)

Home Depot in Oro Valley: rechargeable batteries, light bulbs (e.g., fluorescent)

Catalina Transfer Station in Catalina (near the Oracle Road wildlife bridge): construction and demolition materials, scrap metals, recyclables (soda cans, plastics, print materials, and cardboard—no glass bottles), tires, yard waste

Felicia’s Farm: Egg cartons. They donate 2,000 farm-fresh eggs every week to agencies that feed the hungry in Tucson. Visit

Mail Well Shipping near Bashas: bubble wrap; good, sturdy boxes; and excelsior (e.g., packing materials)

Long Realty Golder Ranch and SaddleBrooke Community Outreach shredding and recycling events: Every year, right here in SaddleBrooke, there are opportunities to take papers for shredding, as well as to take other items in for recycling through the collaboration of Long Realty and our SaddleBrooke Community Outreach.

SaddleBrooke Pet Rescue Network: all types of things for pets. Visit

The Lions Club: Eyeglasses. There are recycling containers in each of our libraries.

American Legion Oro Valley Post 132: Unserviceable American flags. There are flag collection boxes in the SaddleBrooke One and SaddleBrooke TWO lobbies. (American flags cannot be burned or just pitched!)

To buy recyclable underwear and socks: Visit ​​

To recycle glass in Tucson: Learn about Tucson’s glass reuse plan at

Other important websites: (Check out the article “Arizona cities are actually trashing things you think you’re recycling.”) for the Oro Valley, AZ Recycling Guide – Recycling Tips and Information (

Of course, this article is not a panacea for recycling. It is merely a way of bringing awareness to this mercurial thing we call recycling.

This I am learning…