Dear Umbra,

I’ve been Googling all over to find a place where I can recycle old CD cases, to no avail. I’m moving soon and would really like to find an environmentally safe way to dispose of these things. Do you know of any place they can be dropped off, or any other alternatives?

Edgewater, N.J.

Dearest Melissa,

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Here’s an answer not just for you, but for all those readers who write in with insanely specific recycling problems: If you’ve called your municipal recycling experts and Googled all over the place, consider that you’ve done your best and call it a day. First, CD cases (just one example) are small and light, which is a good indicator that they should be low on your eco-savior priority list. Second, plastics recycling is often just briefly down-cycling: No. 2 bottles get one or two more shots at life before they’re thrown out. If you can’t find a way to recycle something, and you’ve searched in vain for info about a Plastics Reclamation Club or such, there may be no market for whatever you’re trying to revivify. You may have to give up.

However, I can hold out a ray of hope in Melissa’s case, even though I know it means I’ll keep getting questions about recycling tiny objects. There is a company in Missouri that recycles “techno-trash”: GreenDisk. Actually, I can hold out two rays of hope. The second is something I stumbled across on the Internet: a band thanking everyone who helped it cut costs by sending in old CD cases. Somewhere out there, an indie group is cutting the eco-album edge, perhaps with such sleeper hits as “I’m High on the Density of Your Polyethylene” and “Your P-E-T Is No. 1 With Me.” Keep an eye out, and perhaps add “donate” to your Google search terms.


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