15 Household Items You Might Not Know You Can Recycle

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We all know that recycling is important, but it can be confusing to navigate which items can actually be recycled. While most of us are familiar with recycling paper, plastic, glass, and aluminum, there are many other common household items that don’t have to go to the dump. 

15 Household Items That Don’t Have to Go to the Landfill 

With the environment in mind and a wider perspective on recycling possibilities, we’re here to explore fifteen lesser-known recyclable household items that might surprise you.

1. Pillows and Bedding

Do you have old pillows or bedding that have lost their fluff? Instead of tossing them in the trash, look for textile recycling facilities in your area. 

These facilities can repurpose such items into insulation, cushioning materials, new quilts, and fashionable clothing, among other uses. 

2. Wine Corks

Believe it or not, those wine corks that accumulate after a good party can be recycled! Natural cork can be ground down and used to create new products like flooring tiles, shoe soles, and even sports equipment. And if they’re relatively clean, they can even be reused for wine bottles.

3. Greeting Cards

If you’ve held onto a mass of old greeting cards over the years, they don’t have to go to waste! Organizations like St. Jude’s Ranch for Children in the United States accept donated greeting card fronts to be remade into new cards by kids participating in their programs.

4. Brass Decorations

recycle brass decorations

Deciding whether to recycle used brass can be tricky. However, if you have buckles, trophies, or other brass items collecting dust at home, metal recycling facilities can accept them and give them a new purpose. You may even be able to take these materials to your local scrap yard.

5. Bras and Sports Bras

Yes, even bras are recyclable! There are organizations such as The Bra Recyclers that accept gently used bras and donate them to women in need or recycle the materials when they’re no longer wearable. For the bras that are wearable, they’re sanitized before they’re redistributed. 

6. Broken Crayons

Before tossing out those broken crayons from your child’s art supplies, consider recycling them via companies like Crazy Crayons. They’ll turn those broken pieces into fun-shaped crayons for a bright new life. They do this by melting them down and sticking them in new containers.

7. Toothbrushes and Toothpaste Tubes

toothbrushes are recyclable

Did you know that there are oral care product recycling programs out there? Brands like Colgate partner with TerraCycle to collect toothbrushes, toothpaste tubes, floss containers, and packaging for recycling purposes. So save all of your tooth-based hygiene products!

8. Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs (CFLs)

Did you know CFLs contain a small amount of mercury and should never be thrown in the trash? Check with your local waste department to find a designated drop-off site for CFLs where they will be safely recycled. Consider switching to LED to invest in sustainability. 

9. CDs and DVDs 

In this digital era full of streaming services, CDs and DVDs may be obsolete, but don’t just throw them away! Companies such as GreenDisk allow you to mail in outdated CDs, DVDs, cases, and even VHS tapes so they can be recycled into more useful and modern products.

10. Eyeglasses 

how to recycle eye glasses

Your old prescription glasses can make a difference in someone else’s life. Lions Clubs International and other similar organizations collect used eyewear for distribution to people in need around the world. They even take broken glasses if they can be easily repaired.

11. Cooking Oil

Used cooking oil doesn’t have to clog up your drains! Many waste collection centers will accept cooking oils and turn them into biodiesel fuel for vehicles. Just ensure you store it properly (i.e., in a clean and sealed glass container) before dropping it off at your local center.

12. Old Electronics and Appliances

Don’t just ditch obsolete electronics. There are plenty of locations where you can recycle them! Many e-waste recycling centers accept items like computers, televisions, and cell phones, which reduces their impact on the environment and allows them to recover valuable resources.

13. Used Printer Ink Cartridges

Empty ink cartridges don’t have to become landfill clutter. Many office supply stores like Staples or Office Depot offer rewards programs when you return used cartridges for recycling, giving you extra motivation to do the eco-friendly thing. They may also be able to fill them up for you.

14. Old Luggage

recycling luggage and bags

Is that old suitcase taking up space but not quite ready for landfill disposal? Organizations like Suitcases 4 Kids collect gently-used luggage and distribute it to children in foster care or moving between homes. These suitcases don’t have to be child-size, either; they’ll take all suitcases.

15. Vinyl Banners

Got leftover banners from events or advertising campaigns? Companies such as ReBanner specialize in turning used vinyl banners into sustainable tote bags, pencil cases, and other practical items. This is a good way to keep durable materials out of landfills for a long while.

In Conclusion… 

There are so many hidden recycling opportunities within our own households, just waiting to be uncovered and utilized. By making a conscious effort to recycle items like those listed above, you can make an even bigger impact on reducing waste and contribute to a sustainable future.

  • Luke Rooks

    Luke is a passionate environmental advocate based in upstate New York. When he's not sharing tips on sustainability and wellness, you can find him hiking with his dog, Max.

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