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Here Are 41 Things You Didn’t Know You Could Recycle

In celebration of Earth Day—and Earth Day Texas—we’re taking a closer look at recycling. Many of us recycle the basic things—paper, plastic, cans, etc—but there’s a whole a world of recyclables that most of us are throwing in the garbage.

From batteries and video games, to inhalers and metal keys, here are 41 things you might not now you could be recycling:

1. Carpet

Replacing your carpets? Have unused rolls lying around the house? Don’t throw them to the curb. New rolls can go to Habitat for Humanity. The Carpet America Recovery Effort can help you recycle the old ones. Many carpet manufacturers will help recycle your carpet, too.

2. Batteries 

Throwing away batteries can be terrible for the environment. Recycle them instead. Many office supply stores like Office Depot offer battery recycling. Even some Ikeas have it, too.

3. Cardboard boxes

People always need boxes. Try donating them to nonprofits or shelters—they’re often in dire need of cardboard boxes. Businesses that collect at least 100 boxes each month are also eligible to resell their boxes to

4. CDs/DVDs

A simple scratch is enough to turn CDs into garbage. But don’t place them in the trash—The CD Recycling Center can help you recycle them instead.

5. Clothing

Throwing out clothes is a waste. Visit your local Goodwill or other thrift store to donate them instead

6. Clothes Dryers/Washing Machines

Everything you need to know about recycling large appliances can be found here

7. Fluorescent light bulbs

Fluorescent light bulbs leak mercury into the environment when broken in landfills. Home Depot, Lowes, Ikea and similar locations commonly accept fluorescent light bulbs for recycle. Visit to find a location near you.

8. Toilets

Call your city’s recycling center or a local waste management company to see if they recycle toilets. Most Habitat For Humanity locations will also accept used toilet donations.

9. Ink Cartridges

Re-manufacturing plastic ink cartridges requires 80% less energy than making new ones. In other words, be sure to reuse and eventually recycle your cartridges. Many office supply stores will refill them for you. Call the cartridge manufacturer for advice on how and where to recycle them.

10. Computers

Made from a variety of materials, computers are notoriously difficult to recycle. However, most computer manufacturers have take-back or trade-in programs where they’ll collect your computer in order to reuse its materials. Call your manufacturer for more details.

11. Video Games

The aforementioned CD Recycling Center will accept and then recycle any video game discs you might have. For all cartridges, Nintendo offers a take back program where they’ll recycle your games free of charge. They even take non-Nintendo brand games, too.

12. Motor Oil

The EPA has said that “If all the oil from American do-it-yourself oil changers were recycled, it would be enough motor oil for more than 50 million cars a year.” Needless to say, recycling your motor oil can make a real difference. Consult your local service station or auto shop to learn how.

13. Cell Phones

The best way to recycle your cell phone is to donate it to Verizon’s HopeLine program, which benefits survivor’s of domestic abuse.

14. Sports Equipment

Sporting equipment is best recycled through reuse. Sell or donate it to your local Goodwill, thrift store or Play It Again Sports location

15. Athletic Shoes

Don’t throw out those tattered old running shoes. Instead, send them to Nike’s Reuse-a-Shoe program, which accepts any brand of old sneaker and recycles them into various sport courts and fields so kids around the world have more places to play.

16. Cooking Oil

Many cities offer cooking oil recycling. Call your local recycling center for details.

17. Construction Wood

It’s not always been easy to recycle wood. But now there’s a great resource to show you how and where. Visit to learn the most efficient way to recycle all that extra wood.

18. Bicycles 

Rather than tossing out your old bicycle, donate it to Bikes of the World, which collects, refurbishes and then donates bikes to lower-income people and various institutions in developing countries.

19. Crayons

All those unused and broken crayons don’t have to end up in the trash. Crazy Crayons is an organization that will recycle your old crayons into new, fun, multicolored ones.

20. Holiday Lights

To learn how to recycle those old xmas lights, click here. Many Home Depot and Lowes locations will recycle them, too.

21. Christmas tree

There’s tons of fun ways to reuse and recycle your old xmas tree—take a look.

22. Wine Corks

Recycled wine corks can be used to make everything from insulation and car parts, to yoga mats and sports equipment. Several health food stores like Whole Foods have drop boxes for collecting corks for recycling. ReCORK is another option—they’ll recycle your corks into shoe soles and other clever products. Check their site for drop off locations.

23. Trophies

A thorough guide on recycling your trophies can be found here.

24. Bras 

There are several organizations that accept bras to benefit women in need. Here’s a great resource for choosing what option is best for you.

25. Greeting Cards

St. Jude’s Ranch for Children accepts greetings cards of all shapes and sizes and reuses the materials to create new ones. Funds from the new cards go to benefit abused and homeless families.

26. Packing Peanuts

Most cities don’t have options for recycling Styrofoam peanuts. However, many packaging stores like UPS will accept them for reuse. The Plastic Loose Fill Council can help you find a location near you.

27. VHS Tapes

Recycling tapes can be tricky, but it’s possible. Earth 911 is a great resource for learning how.

28. Inhalers

Millions of Inhalers go to waste every year. But there’s good news: Inhalers can now be recycled through the “Complete the Cycle” campaign.

29. Brita Water Filters 

When it comes to Brita filters, there are several options to choose from when recycling them. Consult this resource for detailed instructions.

30. Cosmetics

Cosmetics contain many chemicals harmful to the environment (including lead), and in most cases cannot be recycled. However, these products can be repurposed in a number of creative ways. As far as the packaging goes, many of the larger makeup retailers collect cosmetic containers for recycling—including MAC, Lush, Aveda, and Origins. Some even give gifts or gift cards in exchange.

31. Mattresses 

Before tossing out your old mattress in favor of a new one, check with your mattress’ manufacturer—chances are they’ll help you recycle it. However, if they don’t, you’re not completely out of luck. Check with your city, many areas have recycling centers that will take mattresses off your hands.

32. Apple Products 

Apple products are one of the easiest things to recycle. Apple locations accept all their products back for free recycling.

33. Cars, Boats, and Motorcycles

Junkyards are often the best way to properly dispose of your vehicle in a way that insures most of its materials will be put to good re-use.—something of a virtual junkyard—is another viable option. Bonus: both choices are likely to earn you some extra cash.

34. Hearing Aids

The Starkey Hearing Foundation collects all makes and models of hearing aids to benefit the hearing-impaired all over the world.

35. Backpacks

The American Birding Association will take your donated backpack and give it to scientists who will use it in the field when tracking neotropical birds.

36. Wedding Dresses

Brides Across America accepts recently used wedding dresses and gifts them to United States military brides in need. In addition to dresses, the organization accepts weddings accessories like veils and tiaras, too. Why toss out your dress when it could go to a cause like that?

37. Keys

The Keys for Hope Foundation is a non-profit that donates 100% of its proceeds to help feed those in need by helping to stock community food pantries. Keys can also be recycled as scrap metal at your local recycling center.

38. Crocs

Upgrading your ratty old Crocs? Take them to your local official Croc store to be recycled or reused. The company’s “Soles 4 Souls” campaign helps put shoes on the underprivileged and others in dire need of footwear.

39. Hairdryers 

You might be surprised to learn that hairdryers are easily recycled. Simply locate your closest scrap metal recycling center, drop it off, and you’re done!

40. Juice Pouches

Strictly speaking, these aren’t recyclable. However, TerraCycle will donate 1 cent for each juice pouch collected, and donate the proceeds to the non-profit or school of your choosing. TerrarCycle provides free shipping for sending in the pouches, too

41. Ziploc Bags

Yep, you can now recycle Ziploc Bags. Just watch:

42. For everything else, TerraCycle has your back!

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  1. I didn’t know that you can recycle your computer with the manufacturer. I have a variety of old technology and scrap pieces that I want to recycle. I’d love to find somewhere that I can take that will accept scrap metal!

    1. Jonathan At Cedarcide

      It’s pretty remarkable what all you can recycle, right Eve?

      We’re here if you need anything else or have questions 🙂

  2. Kate Hansen

    I never knew that you could recycle motor oil! My husband has an auto repair shop, and he was telling me last night about how he wants to look into finding more ways to dispose of the used oil. I’ll make sure to pass this information along to him so that he can look into recycling used motor oil.

    1. Jonathan At Cedarcide

      We’re so glad we could be of help 🙂

      We’re here if you need anything else, Kate!

  3. Alice Carroll

    Thanks for pointing out that checking with the manufacturer can help me know more about computer recycling. I’m currently using my third laptop during the current decade. As such, it would be important for me to start thinking about how I should treat my electronic wastes. That way, they wouldn’t take up too much space in my home.

    1. Jonathan At Cedarcide

      Our pleasure, Alice!

      Thanks for the comment, we’re here if you need anything else.

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