Recycling Challenge: Metal Clothes Hangers

story by Samantha WittchenFACT: 3.5 billion metal hangers, the equivalent of 200 million pounds of steel, are used each year by the dry cleaning industry alone.

Problem: Metal (or wire) hangers are the scourge of the recycling industry. In addition to the low percentage of steel reclaimed per hanger, they can catch on recycling equipment and cause jams and damage. Most curbside recycling programs, including Philadelphia’s, do not accept wire hangers.

Solution: Save your wire hangers and take them back to your dry cleaner. Since the price of wire hangers imported from China doubled in April 2008, your dry cleaner may even thank you for saving him a few bucks. If your dry cleaner isn’t interested in them, chances are that there’s another dry cleaner in the area that will be. Liberty Cleaners (606 N. 2nd Street, 267-639-3978) even posts a sign on their front window inviting people to return wire hangers to them. Added bonus: Liberty Cleaners is also an eco-friendly dry cleaner!

*Last month’s recycling challenge gave you tips for dealing with sports equipment—including those sad, slightly deflated tennis balls. Now, thanks to a tip from a reader (Julee Wenhold Kerr), we’ve got another idea: Philadelphia’s Animal Care and Control Shelter (pspca.org/acct) is always in desperate need of tennis balls. They help entertain dogs while they’re in their crates.