14 Everyday Items You Didn’t Know You Could Recycle

You’ve got the paper and aluminium cans down pat - what’s next?

Special Collections: REDUCE REUSE RECYCLE


Clothes, electronics and personal items ready for recycling

Clothes, electronics and personal items ready for recycling (Stock-Asso / Shutterstock.com)

By now, sorting recyclables has become second nature - just like taking a tote to the supermarket or turning off the tap while not in use. Whether it’s using separate bins provided by the local council or taking bottles to receptacles on the street, paper, glass and aluminium cans generally get the recycling attention they deserve.
Time to take it up a notch. As it turns out, there are dozens of household items that can be recycled - simultaneously decluttering and saving the planet. This list is just the beginning…


1. Running shoes
Broken down and “scented” as they may be, running shoes can be saved from the landfill. Nike’s Reuse-A-Shoe program, for example, grinds down worn out athletic shoes and turns them into surfaces such as synthetic grass and running tracks.

2. Clothes
Swap, donate, alter, repurpose or resell. The options are almost endless.

3. Bras
Generally not on the “donate” list, bras can keep living long after their first life. Programs like The Bra Recyclers spruce up old bras and donate them where possible, or recycle fabric so it doesn’t end up in landfills.

Old running shoes ready for recycling

Running shoes pre-transformation (ihallicopter / Shutterstock.com)


4. Eyeglasses
The Lions Recycle for Sight program collects used eyeglasses, cleans them, sorts by prescription strength and distributes to people in developing countries - especially children. Lenses can also be reground and donated to people in need.

5. iPhones and iPods
Apple Retail Stores collect old devices for recycling - and give customers a 10% discount on future purchases to encourage participation.

6. Other cell phones
Cell phones are complex little devices - some components require proper hazardous waste disposal while other parts are highly recyclable. Initiatives like EcoATM take care of the entire process - and reward participants for donating.

Old eyeglasses ready for recycling

Eyeglasses ready for recycling (CatherineLProd / Shutterstock.com)


7. Batteries
Both rechargeable and single-use batteries can be recycled - check out Battery Recycling for a local collection point.

8. Computers and electronics
Assuming they can’t be repaired or donated, computers and other electronic items need to be disassembled for responsible recycling. e-Stewards is a global program that certifies electronics recyclers, refurbishers and processors to dispose of e-waste while adhering to high standards of environmental responsibility and worker protection.

9. Crayons
Crazy as it may sound, with 120,000 pounds of crayons produced in the US every day, things stand to get pretty colorful at landfills. The National Crayon Recycle Program collects unwanted, used and broken crayons and turns them into new ones - diverting 104,000 pounds of crayons from waste sites so far.

10. Bicycles
Two-wheeled vehicles get a second life with the Bikes of the World program, which collects, refurbishes and donates bikes to low-income families and developing countries.

11. Holiday lights
HolidayLEDs collects used Christmas tree decorations and recycles the components year-round, and offers participants a coupon to say ‘thank you’ for donating.

Colored crayons ready for recycling

Every color can be green when it comes to crayons (Vladimir Caplinskij / Shutterstock.com)


12. Wine corks
While cork itself is biodegradable, many of the little guys end up in landfill just the same. ReCORK grinds wine recycled wine corks to make new products like yoga blocks. So far the initiative has collected over 49 million corks.  

13. Coffee pods
Nespresso provides customers with free ziploc recycling bags for home pickup or store collection, and then separates the aluminum and coffee grounds for respective recycling. Loose coffee grounds can also be recycled, and used as soil to grow mushrooms.

Wine corks ready to be recycled.

Collecting wine corks to be recycled. (Don Pablo / Shutterstock.com)

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