I have tried over the years to reuse and recycle everything. For this post, I am going discuss how I recycle various materials that I come across as a percussionist. I will admit that a lot of what I discuss in this post is tedious and at times may seem extreme but I'm hoping for a better future. I also want to mention that I work at a university and thus I end up with a lot more of the following materials than most people.
This category of materials is the easiest to recycle for most people. Most towns have a recycling plant which will take paper/cardboard and as a drummer, I see a lot of paper. Below is a typical box leftover after a Saturday football game.
The box that these heads were shipped in is recyclable and so are the head boxes. Our marching drumline changes at least 100 or more heads a season. All of those boxes along with others that come from typical head maintenance really add up. I try to collect all that I can and take them to be recycled. I also recycle extra paperwork, pamphlets and paper shipping material with the boxes.
What little plastic I use with regards to percussion is often not recyclable by the typical means. Thus, I try to reuse as much as I can. All plastic shipping materials like bubble wrap can be saved and reused. I usually give it to the art department at my school because they use it to wrap art for shipping but there are plenty of ways to reuse shipping materials. The plastic bags that marimba mallets come in are great as bags for timpani mallets. Keeping felt covered mallets in plastic helps retain the integrity of the mallet head. I some times also reuse plastic drum heads. If a head breaks in the middle, I will cut an inch circle from the outer part of the head and make damping rings. I don't use these very often but they are nice for studio work and beats paying for them.
This one is a little tricky. It is hard to recycle/reuse the wood I typically see in percussion. Broken sticks, wood blocks that can't be repaired, broken drum shells, bass drum hoops, claves and other scraps of wood usually find their way into the fire. I know this isn't the best way to recycle these products but it's the best I've got right now. Usually, I find a friend who is having a bonfire and add these scraps to their wood pile, making sure that they are not cooking on this fire as chemicals in the wood could be released which is not good for food. If I know a product has not been treated with chemicals, I will either bury it under leaves in a compost pile or in the ground and let nature do its thing. When I work with high schools, I end up with a lot of old timpani mallets. If they can be recovered, I will reuse them this way but if they are ruined, I will cut the mallet ball off the top and the resulting stick makes a great cowbell beater.
The metals I recycle from my percussion work are usually not those that are accepted by your typical curbside recycling program. Most of these metals need to be collected, separated and taken to a scrap yard. This is good for you because you will get paid for the materials you recycle.
As I mentioned before, I end up with a lot of broken heads because of the marching band. I collect the heads and strip off the Mylar The resulting hoop is usually either aluminum or steel and both are recyclable. (Steel is magnetic) Aluminum is not that expensive of a metal so it will take a lot to make any real money but we're in this for the environment not for the money! I also recycle aluminum brush handles and aluminum marching tenor mallets.
This is sort of an all encompassing category. I recycle broken parts, bent rims, spent tension rods, steel drum head hoops, broken stand parts and anything else that can't be reused. Most drum parts are made of a cheap steel and is not worth much but recycling is better than throwing them away. I also want to mention that recycling steel for money is different than other metals. A lot of scrap yards won't pay you for a small box of steel parts. I typically just give them my steel or add it to someone else's load while at the scrap yard. I lose $2 but the Earth gains a tree.
There are different types of brass and I suggest you look them up before you take your materials in because the better you separate your materials in this category, the more money you can make. I usually recycle broken cymbals, rivets and any other bits of brass I can get. With regards to broken cymbals, I like to play with broken cymbals because a lot of them sound really funky. If I like the sound, I will save a broken cymbal and use it until it stops being useful. I have also cut cymbals to try to extend their usefulness. Broken cymbals also make great bell plates which are called for occasionally in modern percussion ensemble and wind ensemble literature. I want to make it clear that I have never actually broken a cymbal. I'm not that kind of player. All of my broken cymbals come from marching bands and high schools.
This post is just a suggestion. As you start to recycle, you will find all kinds of materials that can be reused or recycled. Recycling takes a little extra effort but the benefits are immeasurable for a better future. Happy recycling!