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Information for Students > Sustainability at Rush > Come Clean -- Go Green > Recycle
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Get involved:

Taking your used office paper, beverage bottles and cans to the Rush recycling bins as well as recycling materials at home is a great start. But there's a lot more each of us can do at work and at home to help the planet!

  1. Take the Rush Recyling Pledge.
  2. Encourage your colleagues or fellow students at Rush to recycle.
  3. Test your knowledge about what can be recycled at Rush.
  4. Take a moment to move recyclable items you see in a trash can to a nearby recycling bin (and then wash your hands).
  5. Find a Recycling Center: EARTH 911

Why recycle?

Recycling helps to address waste disposal problems. For every ton of paper recovered for recycling, nearly three cubic yards of landfill space are conserved. In many cases, recovering paper for recycling
can save communities money that they would otherwise have to spend for disposal. Recovered paper supplies over 38 percent of the total fiber needed to produce paper products for our nation.

It typically takes less energy to make recycled products. For example, recycled aluminum requires 95 percent less energy than making new aluminum from bauxite ore.

Less water and air pollition is created in manufacturing products from recycled materials than is produced when making products from virgin materials.

Is there a market for recyclable materials?

We have created markets for some materials, like car batteries, which are quite efficient and well developed. Some of these developed because of strict regulations which control how something can be disposed. Now, according to the EPA, around 90 percent of all lead-acid batteries are recycled. Steel recycling, too, has been around for decades. Glass has also been recycled for decades but colored glass continues to be a problem in the recycling waste stream as it needs to be separated for most uses. Most plastic still goes to incinerators or landfills, despite the huge volume of plastic beverage containers and other packing that is sold every year as that industry has not embraced recycling as much as some others.

Seasonal recycling:

If you live in the City of Chicago and purchased a live Christmas tree, please don't just discard your tree with the trash. The city is collecting trees each January and turns them into mulch (you can also pick up the mulch to use foryour own landscaping). Here is a list of locations used in 2011 for dropping off trees. They are likely to be the same in future years.

Residents of Lake County can recycle Christmas trees each January at six different Lake County Forest Preserve locations. Trees dropped off are converted to wood chips for use on trails and for landscaping at forest preserves throughout Lake County.

Please remove all ornaments, tinsel, lights and other non-organic decorative materials before dropping off your tree (they would damage the mulching equipment).

Some communities also provide drop-off locations for unwanted holiday lights. Call your local city government to inquire what programs are available in your community.

In late spring, the Chicago Botanic Garden accepts #2, #4, #5, and #6 plastic garden pots, containers, polystyrene cellpacks, and trays for recycling in special bins.

Are you remodeling your home?

In 2005, the Chicago City Council passed amendments to the Construction or Demolition Site Waste Recycling Ordinance to increase the amount of construction or demolition debris that is recycled in Chicago. Contractors must track how much waste they generate at project sites and strive to meet the recycling goals set forth in the new ordinance. They must recycle at least half of the construction or demolition debris generated at a job site. If you are having work done on your home, talk to your contractor about their plans for recycling. It is possible to negotiate to have 60% or 70% of such debris recycled, although that may change the price you pay.

Also, consider what materials could be reused and consider removing them yourself before demolition (light fixtures, medicine cabinets, cabinet knobs, decorative switchplates, heating floor grates, etc. Even things like countertops and faucets can also be reused by others.


Are you getting a new refrigerator or freezer to replace an old working model? ComEd's findings suggest an older energy-wasting refrigerator or freezer could cost an extra $150 per year in energy use. They periodically offer a program to pick up these old appliances for free to recycle in an environmentally responsible way -- and will even rebate you (often around $35) for each appliance. They have a similar program for older window air conditioners (and often rebate around $25 each for those). Check out their website to see if the offer is current and to check for any restrictions or just call them at 888-806-2273 (mention promo code ABS35). They usually limit each household to two rebates each year.


You can trade in your used electronic equipment. It will either be refurbished and resold or scrapped for parts and recycling of metals. Two chains are currently offering this service: Best Buy and Radio Shack. They assess a value for your trade-in and apply it to a purchase or gift card for future use. You can also use Gazelle, a reCommerce service that helps you sell and recycle your used electronics.

Do you use a Brother P-Touch labeling machine or other Brother electronic product? You can recycle used drum units, toner cartridges, ribbon cartridges, ink cartridges, and P-touch tape cassettes for free. A pre-paid return label can be printed directly from their web site or requested by calling 877-276-8437.

Althetic Shoes

The life of a running shoe is 300 -500 miles (depending on one's body weight, gait and running surfaces). So, if you run 4 miles, four times a week, replace your shoes after 6 months. Less serious runners should replaces shoes after 12 months. Check the midsole (the foam part between the upper sole and the upper part of the shoe). If it is wrinkled or warped, it is worn out. Running shoes typically can't be repaired. So, what do you do with them? Don't throw them away. Instead, donate them (up to 10 pair at a time) to Nike's Reuse-A-Shoe program. Nike separates shoe materials (e.g., rubber, foam, and fabric), then grinds them down to produce raw materials for running tracks, tennis courts surfaces, and padding for basketball courts. Every part of the shoe is used! Visit for drop-off spots (Niketown, 669 N. Michigan Avenue is a site, as are the various Nike factory stores in the region).

Compact Fluorescent Lightbubs

Please remember that CFL bulbs need to be recycled rather than just thrown away when they burn out. Each bult contains about 4 milligrams of mercury (necessary for them to operate) so it is essential to handle and recycle CFLs responsibly to keep that mercury out of landfills. Luckily, you can simply take them to ACE Hardware, True Value, Lowes, or Home Depot stores and they will recycle any brand of CFLs for free. You can view a list of participating stores online.

Consider replacing incandescent bulbs with ENERGY STAR qualified CFLs now --you can begin to enjoy energy savings immediately. Replacing your home's five most frequently used light bulbs with CFLs can save you more than $65 each year. Rather than throw away working incandescent bulbs, put them in fixtures where CFLs aren't suitable (e.g., closets and dimmable fixtures). CFLs provide the most savings in fixtures turned on for two or more hours a day and for at least 15 minutes at a time.

Should a CFL break, check out this information on how to clean it up safely and avoid contaminating yourself and your home with mercury.

License plates

Have your car's Illinois license plates expired? You can recycle them in bins all 136 secretary of state vehicle facilities. Since 2004, Illinois license plates have been made of recyclable aluminum. If you have "ancient" plates (issued before 2004), those were made of galvanized steel -- which is also readily recycled.

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