Back to school – Can I recycle my old keyboard?

Q&A with Hannah Scholes

It’s September, and that means students of all ages are preparing for another school year. How can

we keep the planet in mind as we back to school shop? Read on!

Hannah Scholes

Q: Can I recycle electronics like my old computer or keyboard?

Yes! But not in your curbside recycling cart. Your blue cart should only contain paper, cardboard, bottles, plastic jugs, and cans. Visit to find the complete guide for curbside recycling in your area.

Electronics can be recycled at several drop-off locations throughout the state. Check out to find one near you. Electronics recyclers evaluate materials and determine if items are suitable for reuse, repair, or recycling. E-cycle Washington recyclers accept electronics such as televisions, computers, laptops, monitors, tablets, e-readers, and portable DVD players.

E-cycle Washington does not accept computer peripherals such as keyboards, mice, printers, cell phones and toner cartridges. But you can drop them off for recycling at Best Buy or Staples. Just call ahead for program details from your local store.

Q: What is the most sustainable way to buy school supplies?

First, look for products made from recycled materials. Notebooks and folders made from recycled content support local recycling programs. Just think, the junk mail you recycled last month could be your new pad of paper or sketchbook. Plus, you can recycle that paper again once you’re finished with it. That’s right. Homework is recyclable. When shopping, don’t forget to keep an eye out for items like pens and mechanical pencils made from recycled plastic. They may have started as plastic bottles and jugs that were used and recycled in your community!

Next, think quality over quantity for things like clothing and backpacks. Buy sturdy, high-quality items that will last years, not seasons. The up-front price tag may be a bit higher, but you’ll save in the long run! Not only will you save money and time, but you’ll also protect the environment by reducing the amount of material that ends up in the landfill and the demand for fast fashion clothing.

Want another good way to save on clothing? Buy second-hand items! Local thrift stores are treasure troves of stylish options at affordable prices. Processes like manufacturing and shipping new clothes create emissions and other environmental impacts.

We can reduce these impacts by reducing consumption!

Q: What are some fun ways to get my kids interested in recycling and sustainability at home?

The most potent habits and attitudes come at an early age. Recycling can be one of them! Kids need to know that recyclable bottles, cans, paper and cardboard are made into new things. Recycled metal creates new cans, bridges, bikes, and airplanes, and your plastic bottle could have a second life as a park bench or a sweater.

Recycled art projects are a hands-on way to build enthusiasm for reuse and recycling. For step-by-step craft instructions, visit Hone your child’s inner creativity as you make a pen holder out of a milk carton or an envelope out of recycled paper.

Maybe you can get kiddos who aren’t so artistically inclined excited about recycling trucks! Waste Management collection vehicles run clean and green by using renewable natural gas (RNG) for fuel. RNG is a renewable fuel that comes from WM landfills by capturing gas produced by garbage. It also generates 70% fewer emissions than diesel!

Hannah Scholes is Waste Management’s recycling education and outreach manager. For more information about recycling and waste reduction in your community, visit


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