We all know we should be recycling plastic bottles, paper, cardboard, metals, glass, plastic bags, and more. However, there are a plethora of items you probably didn’t know you could recycle, including some household essentials and pieces of apparel you no longer need.
There’s no shortage of companies that have recycling initiatives to repurpose an item that many people would’ve otherwise thrown away. Here are 22 items that you could find a second home to if you’re planning on discarding.
Running Shoes. After a certain number of miles, running shoes wear out and you have to buy new ones. Instead of leaving the old pair rot in the closet, contact companies such as the nonprofit Running World or on a Goodwill bin. In some cases, companies take old shoes and turn them into basketball courts, tracks, fields, and playgrounds.
Cardboard Boxes. There are several nonprofits and women’s shelters that use these boxes, while freecycle.org and craigslist.org often offer an opportunity to give these boxes away for people who need them.
Batteries. You could also try checking out your local shop and seeing if they repurpose batteries. Some companies have national battery recycling programs that individuals or businesses can use, as well as recycling stations for empty batteries.
Holiday Lights. We’re no longer in the holiday season, which means you no longer need lights for this year. Any old lights that now malfunction can be repurposed in local stores and local groups, who find a new use for them.
Crayons. Some companies produce billions of crayons per year, and there are now programs that help breathe new life into old crayons. There are some programs where you can recycle crayons and give them a second life of utility.
Packing Peanuts. Many places don’t accept Styrofoam peanuts as a recyclable material, but some initiatives help repurpose them instead of polluting landfills with them.
Carpet. Several carpet reclamation facilities can recycle old carpets, even if their torn, stained, or worn out. If you know the brand name of your carpet, organizations can also help determine if a carpet can be recycled for a specific purpose.
CDs. Many of us have already transitioned from using CDs to buying all our music digitally or via vinyl. However, instead of throwing out old and scratched CDs, you can repurpose them and find a new use for them as a DIY art project. The same applies to old DVDs or video games.
Compact Fluorescent Lightbulbs. Some organizations have units to recycle compact fluorescent lightbulbs. Ask around at your local store to find out if you can donate your flamed-out lightbulbs to someone who might repurpose them.
Eyeglasses. All of us with poor eyesight have had an accident with our eyeglasses that makes them futile for us. However, some companies use old eyeglasses, reground them, and give them to people who need them. Reading glasses and prescription glasses can also be donated.
Toilets and other porcelain items. If you’re looking to upgrade your toilet, don’t throw it in the dumpster just yet. Some fill yards accept toilets and other porcelain items that can be crushed and used for sidewalks or roads.
Wine corks. If you enjoy drinking a nice glass of wine here and there, make sure you keep the corks. Some companies repurpose these corks for other consumer items after crushing them up.
Cell phones. Less than 20% of cellphones are recycled every year, although these can be fixed up by some organizations and given to people in need, including domestic-violence survivors and low-income families.
Inhalers. After about 160 puffs, most inhalers run out of steam and we usually throw them away. Nevertheless, inhalers carry valuable materials such as aluminum and plastic that can be reused to make medical equipment at pharmacies.
Clothing dryers. Another hefty item that can be recycled is a clothing dryer. Some recycling companies focus solely on repurposing applications as components that help a machine operate, as well as its external materials, can be reused in several ways.
Ink Cartridges. Anyone who uses a printer frequently knows how much of a hassle it is to change ink cartridges. There are several groups and office companies that offer individuals and businesses a benefit for recycling their ink cartridges, which have components that can be used to create other office essentials.
Computers. Computers may not be that big, but each device is made of plenty of tiny materials to make up your hard drive and other inner components, all of which have value for other businesses. The external metal of your home computer or laptop can also be recycled.
Oil. Whenever your car needs an oil change, consider donating the old oil as it can be refined and transformed into lubricants and other petroleum products.
Toothbrushes and razors. Many personal hygiene items such as toothbrushes and razors can be taken apart and repurposed as plastic lumber. These can be sent to a local store or via snail mail with certain companies.
Cigarette waste. Cigarette buds can be pretty gross, but collecting cigarette waste from ashtrays and the ground can help reduce your local town’s carbon footprint, while also repurposed. The components are separated from these cigarettes as their plastic is cut into pellets and resold, while their paper and tobacco parts are composted.
Solo cups. If you’re having a party and you don’t feel like bringing out the fancy glassware, you’ve probably used solo cups at some point. These can be difficult to recycle, but some companies have found a way todos.
Tights and stockings. It used to be really hard to find any sort of use for tights and stockings, but these are now made of nylon, an easier material to recycle. Some groups use old tights and stockings and repurpose them as park benches, running tracks, car insulation, and playground equipment.
Last update of the article: 07/31/2020.
About the Author
Jen is your go-to guru for crafting a cozy, green cocoon. 🪴 Her dive into sustainable building wasn’t just about saving the planet—it started as a mission to make family movie nights eco-friendly (and to ensure the popcorn was the only thing getting heated!). With a knack for breaking down the jargon, Jen turns eco-lingo into everyday language. Swing by the Green Living blog for a mix of earth-loving advice and home improvement hacks. Whether you’re just dipping your toes into green waters or you’ve been swimming in the deep end of DIY projects, Jen’s here to guide, giggle, and remind you that every eco-choice is a step towards a planet that thanks you… and maybe even sends a rainbow your way! 🌈