20 Surprising Things That Can Be Recycled

20 Surprising Things That Can Be Recycled

Anytime you start decluttering your house or garage, the advice is usually the same; review what you have and put it into one of these groups:
•    Keep
•    Trash
•    Donate

However, trashing items mean they will end up in landfills and that just doesn’t feel right. Is there a more environmentally-friendly way to dispose of the clutter we no longer want? Can they be recycled or repurposed? 

The good news is that there are numerous different recycling programs out there. Many of them combine recycling with a charitable mission, so you can feel good that you are being environmentally-conscious and making a difference!

Here are 20 things that you may not know that you can recycle. 


1. Athletic shoes

If you want to get rid of your smelly, old trainers and sneakers, then stop by your local Nike store and donate them to the Nike Reuse-A-Shoe program . Old shoes are ground up and are used to make athletic surfaces as well as new Nike products. The company estimates that 71% of Nike shoes and clothing now contain Nike grind materials!


2. Bicycles

Do you have an old bike that still works but you no longer use? If you live in one of these regions you can donate to a local organization:

These charities collect bikes (and sometimes bike parts) to repair and recondition them, and then either send them overseas to areas that need better transportation, or to people who need bikes in their local community. Donating your old bike will keep it out of the landfill and bring a lot of benefit to its new owner! 


3. Bras

Yes, you can recycle bras! If you have a clean, gently used bra then The Bra Recyclers want it. As they say on their site:” If It Doesn't Fit .... Recycle It!”. These gently-used bras are then sent to girls and women who need them. Check out their drop-off locations for one near to you, or you can also send them via mail.


4. Carpets

If you are remodeling your home and have old carpet, then check out CARE (Carpet America Recovery Effort). This organization is focused on the recycling and reuse of old carpets, so they don’t end up in landfills. 


5. CD’s/DVD’s

With the invention of streaming services, do we still need CD’s and DVD’s? If you no longer want your old CD’s and DVD’s then the CD Recycling Center can help you find a location to drop them off to be recycled. 


6. Corks

Natural cork is made from the cork of the cork oak tree. Surprisingly, harvesting cork is actually good for the tree and can extend its life by over 200 years.  So, buying wines with natural corks is great for the environment, but so is recycling the corks afterwards. . These recycled corks are made into products like yoga blocks , and shoes.


7. Crayons

Did you know that about 12 million crayons are manufactured in the US each day? That’s a lot of waste if you are throwing away your old crayons. Instead, you can send them to Crazy Crayons, a national program that recycles old crayons by melting them down to create new crayons and fire starters.  

8. Crayola markers

I was surprised to discover that Crayola doesn’t recycle crayons, but it does recycle its markers. Schools can sign up for their Color Cycle program, and also use the lesson plans and craft ideas about recycling with their classes.


9. Electronics: Apple products

If you have an old iPhone, iPod, iPad or any other Apple product that you no longer want, then Apple is happy to take it back. You can either trade it in or recycle it for free . Apple then takes your old product, disassembles it to extract materials and components to reuse.  


10. Electronics: Other products

If you have other electronics that you want to recycle, you can take them to your local Best Buy store. Best Buy also have a Trade In program where you can sell them your old electronics in return for a Best Buy gift card. 


11. Glasses / Eye-wear

If you have old reading glasses or eyeglasses, then you can send them to ReSpectacle or Saving Sight. The glasses are then cleaned, sorted and passed onto people in need of them. According to the World Health Organization, there are about 253 million people worldwide who are visually impaired and 53% of them could be helped by having the correct glasses. So your old glasses could make a big difference. 


12. Greeting cards

Wondering what to do with old cards? Then you can send them to St Jude’s Ranch for Children who recycle them into new greetings cards.

Note: St Jude’s only want the front of the card, which has to have no handwriting on it. Also, they do not accept Hallmark, Disney or American Greeting cards.


13. Holiday lights

Not sure what to do with those old holiday lights that no longer work? Ship them off to Holiday LEDS, and they will recycle them plus send you a 15% off coupon for new lights.


14. Instrument Strings

For the musicians out there, you can recycle the old strings from your instruments. Just send them to D’Addario to be recycled. Plus, you will earn points which you can redeem for new strings or other accessories. 


15. Keys

For some reason we seem to accumulate a lot of old keys, so it was great to discover that they can be easily recycled by mailing them to Keys for Kids. Not only is this environmentally-friendly, proceeds from the recycled keys help to fund various children’s charities and scholarships. 


16. Key fobs

In addition to keys, you can also recycle key fobs. Remote Recycle will actually pay you for your old key fobs, but you do need to send them 10 or more.


17. Plastic bags and plastic film

Instead of putting old bread bags, plastic grocery bags, dry cleaning bags and the plastic film packaging from toilet roles and paper towels into the garbage, you can recycle them at many different locations in North America. Most of the recycled plastic is used to make composite lumber which often a better alternative than wood for decks, fences and siding as it doesn’t rot, is insect-resistant and won’t splinter or crack.  


18. Tennis balls

Old tennis balls can also be recycled into new tennis balls! Send your old tennis balls to Rebounces. If the balls are too old to be reconditioned they are recycled and used to build tennis courts.


19. Trophies

If you are looking to clear out your old trophies from school and college, you can send them to Lamb Awards & Engraving. This company will either donate your old trophies to charity or will break them down to be recycled so everyone is a winner!


20. Wedding dress

If you have an old wedding dress which is taking up space in your closet, give it a second life by sending it to Brides Across America. This organization will then gift your dress to a military or first responder couple who are getting married.


So, the next time you are decluttering I hope that you’ll find this list useful, and if you have any other things that can be recycled let us all know in the comments section below.

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