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20 Things You Didn't Know You Could Recycle

Recycling is one of the ways your household can help protect the environment: It reduces the adverse effects of pollution and counters your contributions to climate change. How? Let’s break it down like this: 

When you recycle, you divert items from landfills where they ever so slowly break down and emit greenhouse gases into the air and leach toxins into the soil and groundwater. You also channel those materials away from the ocean where they further threaten hundreds of species. 

As if all that isn’t enough, the very nature of recycling reduces the need for raw material extraction, meaning less deforestation and habitat destruction. When we help preserve our forests, we directly protect our natural carbon sinks and combat global warming. 

So there it is. Recycling is a simple act with a massive impact—and all it takes is a little know-how and follow-through. You see, many households are missing opportunities to recycle simply because they don’t have enough information. The problem here is that recycling has been grossly oversimplified into plastic, paper, aluminum, and glass, and every city has different rules and regulations encompassing what’s considered “recyclable.” Reading packaging labels is no longer a sufficient solution.

The best thing you can do to make the most of your household’s recycling efforts is check with your local recycling center for specifics. Now, the good news is, just because an item may not be recyclable through your local facility, it doesn’t mean it’s doomed for the landfill. In the cases below, each item can be recycled through their respective industries or retailers, if not by local facilities or eco-friendly junk removal services. As always, if you have questions, just ask. People are more than happy to help in your recycling efforts and point you in the right direction. If all else fails, check out Recycle Search for local drop-off locations and free resources or google your item in question with the word “recycling” and your area.

Here are the top 20 things you didn’t know you could recycle: 

  1. Carpet 
  2. Holiday lights
  3. CDs
  4. Clothing dryers
  5. Washing machines
  6. Flourescent lightbulbs
  7. Running shoes
  8. Ink cartridges
  9. Eyeglasses
  10. Motor oil
  11. Yoga mats
  12. Sports balls
  13. Toothbrushes
  14. Shaving razors 
  15. Makeup containers
  16. Bicycles
  17. Crayons
  18. Wine corks
  19. Leggings
  20. Toilets 

Remember, just because your local facility won’t recycle an item, doesn’t mean it can’t be done! In these cases, you have some options:

  • Contact the retailer. For example, you can recycle holiday lights at Home Depot.
  • Check with industry professionals or charities. You can talk to your optometrist about taking your old or broken eyeglasses. There are also endless charities who recycle items like clothes, shoes, and crayons.
  • Call a green junk removal service committed to recycling.
  • Look the item up on Recycle Search.
  • Type the item into Google with your area.