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5 Things You Didn't Know You Could Recycle

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What happens when common problems can be solved through creative, out-of-the-box solutions? Umbrellas become high-end clothing. Sport shoes are turned into new sporting equipment. Eye glasses and soap are remanufactured to serve the health needs of third-world countries. Through chemical separation, metals from batteries are reclaimed and resold. Ultimately, solutions can be found to the growing issue of waste disposal.

1. Umbrellas

Currently, there is no place in many communities to take old umbrellas. However, Himane, a New York City design studio, is taking old umbrellas of any kind, size or shape and turning them into high-end fashionable clothing and accessories. In fact, the one-of-a-kind fashion line starts at $50. Learn more at himane.com.

2. Sports Shoes

Nike's "Reuse a Shoe" initiatives have collected more than 25 million pairs of shoes. That is enough to create a chain of athletic shoes that goes all the way around the world more than five times. That is a lot of kicks kept out of the landfill. Learn more at nikereuseashoe.com.

3. Eye Glasses

According to the World Health Organization, an estimated 284 million people worldwide suffer from poor vision simply because they do not have access to or cannot afford care. In some countries, a pair of eyewear costs more than a month's salary. Organizations like One Sight are working to solve these issues by taking old glasses in America and redistributing them to these impoverished communities. Learn more at onesight.org.

4. Batteries

The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that consumers buy approximately three billion batteries each year. According to Battery Solutions, batteries that are not recycled and end up in landfills can leak toxic compounds into our environment. Learn more about the complex chemical recycling process of batteries at batteryrecycling.com.

5. Bar Soap
Each year, more than two million impoverished children die from diarrheal illness around the world -- the approximate population of San Antonio, Texas. "The issue is not the availability of soap. The issue is cost," Derrek Kayongo, founder of the Global Soap Project, told CNN. "[Many] make $1 a day, and soap costs 25 cents. I'm not a good mathematician, but I'm telling you I'm not going to spend that 25 cents on a bar of soap." Learn more at the globalsoap.org.

On the contrary, there is no such thing as "away." Consumption and waste are going to continue offering challenges to humanity. Consequently, together we must rise to find solutions to these issues.

Please contact Greening Forward at info@greeningforward.org and a recycling expert will help you recycle any of the above materials.