Five Items You Never Imagined That You Could Recycle!

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Everyone wants to go green and reduce their carbon footprint, but there are times when it seems as if you have no other choice than to dump something in the trash to head off to your local landfill.

The main problem with landfills is that all these things that end up there don’t really biodegrade. Worse still, they simply sit there, turning into a chemical nightmare that eventually leeches into the soil and sometimes ends up in groundwater. It can take hundreds of years for some items to decompose or at least break up into tiny enough pieces. In the meantime, we are producing thousands of tons of more junk.

Next time, before you toss something that you think cannot be reused or recycled, you should check out the internet and be 100 percent certain of that.

In fact, keep reading! We are going to fill you in on five items that everyone thinks are garbage, but can actually be recycled.

Of course, different cities and counties have different laws in place. Occasionally, there are systems set up that help to deal with items that need to be disposed of properly, or need special handling before being sent to recycling centers. Always check with your county, city, or state to see if there are programs for items like old electronics and paint.

Otherwise, here are five items that can be recycled by third party organizations or companies that you might not have realized existed.


1. Household Appliances

All of our modern day conveniences, including dishwashers, stoves, microwaves, toasters, toaster ovens, washers and dryers all reach the end of their natural lives at one time or another no matter how hard you might try to repair them. Most people find that eventually repairs cost more than a new appliance or parts become unavailable. When you buy a new appliance, see if the company you are buying from will pick up and send your old unit off to be recycled. As we said, some local municipalities have appliance pick-ups, so check with your city or county services if the company you are buying from will not send your unit off for recycling. If all else fails, you can try the Steel Recycling Institute, which has a database of locations where you can drop off your old appliances and other kinds of scrap metal for recycling. The only drawback to this is that you need to deliver the item, but chances are you know someone who owns a pickup truck!

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Video Games, DVD’s, and CD’s.

Video Games, DVD’s, and CD’s.

2. Video Games, DVD’s, and CD’s.

Almost all optical discs, such as DVD’s, CD’s, and games for video systems such as Wii are made up mostly of simple plastic. This includes rewritable discs. If you have discs that contain any personal information, you should always break up the disc first to be certain that it cannot be read in any way, shape or form. While many people think these discs are simply trash, Best Buy has a program that accepts all types of discs for recycling. If you don’t have a Best Buy near you, you can box up small amounts and mail them to the CD Recycling Center of America in Salem, New Hampshire. Yes, this will cost you a few bucks, but think of how good it will make you feel! Don’t mail things like paper sleeves or plastic cases. Those items can be placed in your regular garbage recycling can.

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3. Running Shoes

Most people simply throw out their old running shoes and tennis shoes when they have outlived their useful life, or they donate them to places like Goodwill. However, there is an alternative. Your old footwear can find new life as artificial turf or playground mates through Nike’s Reuse A Shoe program. Nike collects old running shoes and tennis shoes to be recycled into play surfaces and even new clothing. Your shoes do not have to be Nike brand to use their program either. If your shoes still have life in them, consider donating them to a homeless shelter or a homeless person. However, if they are truly just plain old worn out give them new life with this unique program.

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4. Toner Cartridges and Printer Ink

Although many offices and homes recycle old paper and old documents, unfortunately, most printer ink cartridges and toner cartridges are simply dumped in the garbage. One of the best and perhaps most convenient ways to recycle these types of cartridges is offered through Staples locations. Small quantities can be dropped off at every Staples store. If your company gets regular deliveries from Staples, ask about having a recycling can set up at the office that workers fill with cartridges and Staples will exchange full cans for empty ones. Staples also offers free shipping using prepaid labels for old, worn out cartridges. You can also look for companies online that offer free shipping, usually with prepaid labels, to send back your empty cartridges to be refilled or recycled.

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5. Packing Peanuts or Other Types of Foam Packaging

Almost all Styrofoam packing material, including packing peanuts, are made from a type of plastic called EPS plastic #6 (expanded polystyrene). These are all completely recyclable, however, most curbside recycling services do not accept this type of foam material. However, you can still recycle those items by using the EPS Industry Alliance, which has a wide range of resources so you don’t have to dump those peanuts in the trash. EPS Industry Alliance has more than 200 drop off sites as well as a “mail it back” service. Many shipping companies, such as FedEx and UPS also accept these packing peanuts, which are then reused by customers. Ask at your local office before you dump bag loads of them at their front door.


READ ALSO: The Shocking Things That Happen When You Don’t Recycle Old Plastic


Recycling anything is a better option than simply throwing something away, but reusing or repurposing the item is an even better idea. Recycling is great, but it does use up resources, especially when items need to be shipped via trucks. If you can donate an item for reuse, great. You can also check online for millions of creative ways to reuse or repurpose items to minimize your carbon footprint even more so.