Contributed by Cindi Pearce, Info Guru

We all know what recycling is but that doesn’t mean we all do it. We should. We must. It’s getting to the point where our atmosphere is changing drastically because we are filling it with too much junk and depleting natural resources.

Recycling occurs when an object is treated or processed so it is capable of being reused. For example, paper is recycled so more trees don’t have to be cut down.

Repurposing is another facet of recycling which means using an object in a new way or for another purpose, which is actually fun to do. Instead of throwing that old door into the trash heap, make a table out of. Transform your pretty but empty make-up jars into containers for candles or jewelry. Make placemats out of your old tattered blue jeans or use those once white and now gray t-shirts to clean with. Repurposing requires some creativity on your part, and it also eliminates the energy that it takes to recycle. Recycling requires you to become aware and stay aware of the things you are doing that are harming the earth.

The top 10 things you can recycle:

10. Christmas cards

Turn this year’s Christmas cards into next year’s Christmas tags, decorations or even cards. Cut out images, reuse fronts or toss the entire colorful card into a blender to make new paper for new cards.

9. Ink and toner cartridges

You can recycle your empty ink and toner cartridges. Office Depot will pay you $2 in store credit for returning these cartridges to the store. You can’t beat that. All you have to do is join their free rewards program, then start earning credit. When you recycle electronic waste it helps ensure that mercury and lead, which are often components of these products, are managed properly and not contaminating the earth and people.

8. Disposable cups

Drink your coffee out of a mug and not out of a Styrofoam or paper cup. If you insist on drinking from disposable cups re-use it throughout the day. In other words, reuse your cup or else drink from one that requires washing at the end of the day. After using a disposable cup, toss it into the right kind of recycling bin at home, in your community or in your grocery store.

7. Magazines, newspapers and catalogs

When you are finished reading your magazines and newspapers take them to a hospital or doctor’s office or nursing home so that others can read them. This is great form of recycling. Do make sure to call in advance to make sure they want the magazines. And only take recent issues of relevant magazines for each location. Stacks of Seventeen Magazine probably aren’t the best choice for a nursing home, for example!

6. Batteries

Start by purchasing batteries that can be recharged. You will need a battery charger but ultimately this saves you money and is beneficial to the environment. Note that it takes anywhere from 25 to over 1,000 batteries (depending on the type) to equal the lifespan of a rechargeable battery. That’s remarkable.

When you do have to toss old batteries, watch for your community’s hazardous waste drop off or pick up days. That way they can be handle properly.

5. Packaging

Don’t buy overly packaged items, and whenever possible, buy packaging made from recycled materials.

If you do end up with boxes and bubble wrap try to find a way to use them. Reuse them when you mail something or turn the box into a useful container in your house. Wash and reuse microwavable trays. Use containers for leftovers, small toys, puzzle pieces or other things that need to be organized. Kids love boxes. Transform a box into a fort or a castle.

4. Grocery bag

Take your own reusable shopping bag to the grocery store instead of using plastic or paper bags. Alternatively, save your plastic bags and reuse them every time you go to the store.

Recycle paper shopping bags with your regular paper recycling. And look for a plastic bag recycling bin at the entry to most grocery stores.

3. Electronics

When your electronic devices die get rid of them in a way that is environmentally responsible. Call a recycling center and ask where you can properly dispose of radios, televisions, cell phones and computers. There are Return-It programs available that accept end-of-life electronics. In the United States, we throw away two million tons of electronic waste each year, which creates an unbelievable amount of trash.

2. Paper

Write on both sides of paper and when you are finished with the paper recycle it in a bin at work, at curbside or in your community. When you save a ton of paper you are saving three cubic yards of landfill space, 7,000 gallons of water and 17 trees, which is something to think about. Establish a place for used paper. The paper has to be clean in order to be recycled. It can’t be tainted with food, contaminants, plastic or trash.

1. Your car

Recycle your car. Contact a car recycler in your area. Tell them that you want to give them your old car. They may pay you for it. The car is picked up at no charge and is then disposed of in a way that meets all requirements and is environmentally safe. Alternatively, the car may be recycled and used by someone who is in need of a car. You can also recycle components of a car by taking out the battery and returning it to the place where you purchased it. There may be a rebate incentive available to you. Take your old tires to a tire store so they can be recycled. When draining motor oil from your car, collect it and take it to a recycling collection center. Two gallons of used oil is enough to generate electricity for nearly 24 hours in the average household.