Smart phones: an innovative resource for recyclers

I love the My Recycle List (free) app for the iPhone (also available on the Droid). As I’ve discussed many times before, recycling is not as easy as simply cans/glass/plastic anymore — you can recycle anything from unused paint to light bulbs to car batteries, which is great for the environment but confusing and/or discouraging to people who can’t figure out where to take these items to keep them out of the landfill. This app does just that.

It organizes items by general category (the typical glass/plastic/paper plus other categories such as electronics, hazardous waste, and household items), with subcategories that follow and then nearby options for recycling. The app’s creator, 1-800-Recycling, already provides this service online for people without iPhones or smart phones, but as people become more reliant on their phones for Internet use and information gathering, apps like this can really make a difference.

The difference between the app and the website is that people constantly have their phones with them — there’s no excuse for forgetting to check where the dropoff points are because the second you think about it, the second you can grab your phone and look it up. And, on the phone, you can keep a list of the locations you frequent for easy access. It also  integrates GPS in a really useful way so you can find recycling centers based on your exact location. It blends everything into an easy to navigate, easy to store place that never leaves your side.

Getting people motivated to be eco-friendly can be difficult — developing user-friendly, convenient, free tools like this not only removes the confusion, discouragement, and apathy factors, but it also creates great educational resources. Interacting with the app or the website introduces the person to a host of things s/he might not have known were recyclable, and that person likely will absorb that knowledge and also spread the word.

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