Avid recycler or not, you are probably throwing items away that can – and should – be recycled.
“Pretty much everything that you consider to be waste from organic materials, to batteries and chip bags, can be recycled. The resources are available, you just have to know how to apply simple shifts in your life.”
Veronica Rajadnya | Publicist, TerraCycle
With a little bit of research, you can discover creative recycling ideas for nearly everything.
Common Things That Can Be Recycled
Household Items That Need a New Home
If you’ve recently switched locks, or have keys stored away somewhere because you don’t remember what they unlock, consider recycling them. The Key for Hope Foundation takes in old keys, turns them into scrap metal and then uses the money to support humanitarian efforts.
Still have that participation trophy? Instead of sending it to a landfill, donate it to Lamb Awards and Engraving to be recycled. Better yet, if you have matching sets of trophies, they will donate them to a charity in need.
3. Old Tech
Like the name states, Green Disk manages and recycles e-waste. They have plenty of options to send in your recycling, so there’s no need to keep your old desktop from 1999.
Products That Deserve New Life
4. Wine Corks
Wine lovers rejoice! ReCORK is an organization that recycles wine corks into yoga blocks and surfing traction pads. Use their CORKwatch to find out if your favorite bottle uses natural corks before sending any in to be recycled.
5. Chewing Gum
Finding a solution to a “sticky situation”, Gumdrop Ltd. provides bins to recycle chewing gum instead of throwing it onto the street. Recycled gum is then used to make lunch boxes, coffee mugs, pencils and more.
You might be familiar with TerraCycle, who has plenty of outside-the-box recycling programs. There are specific ones for hair care and beauty products, all the way to Lara Bar wrappers.
“One of our most popular recycling programs is with Colgate. Basically, all of the post-consumer waste, used toothbrushes and toothpaste can be recycled. It’s easily accessible and we have activations and retailers across the country and we are able to reach schools through a recycling contest.”
Veronica Rajadnya | Publicist, TerraCycle
Creative Recycling Ideas for Clothing & Accessories
The Blue Jeans Go Green™ program, created by Cotton Incorporated in 2006, will recycle your denim and turn it into housing insulation for communities in need. So far, the program has recycled over 1.5 million pieces of denim which is the equivalent of approximately 750 tons of textile waste diverted from landfills.
Putting Denim to Good Use
“All denim collected through the Blue Jeans Go Green™ program is upcycled into UltraTouch™ Denim Insulation. We then distribute a portion of the housing insulation to rebuilding efforts across the country, primarily to Habitat for Humanity affiliates.”
Kaitlyn Piscadlo | Blue Jeans Go Green
If you stay on trend with eyewear, you probably have a few pairs of gently used glasses sitting in a drawer just waiting to be thrown away. Instead of adding to the pile, donate eyeglasses to Saving Sight – they collect and distribute used eyeglasses to those in need.
9. Running Shoes
While you love your new pair of Nike’s, your old running shoes still have plenty of mileage left in them. MORE, or Modular Organic Regenerative Environments, accepts shoe donations which they sell to vendors to create jobs in city recycling facilities. The profits from sales also go towards training and tools given to rural farmers in underprivileged areas.
Other Items That You Can Recycle
10. Greeting Cards
Put your old greeting cards to use by donating them. “At St. Jude’s Ranch for Children, we recycle used greeting cards to create new holiday and all-occasion greeting cards which are sold in our Thrift Store to support abused and neglected children,” explains Jackie Yoxen. Only the front of the greeting card is used, so there shouldn’t be any writing on the back.
Rather than tossing out those broken and half-used crayons in the trash at the end of the school year, ship them off to Crazy Crayons. To date they’ve recycled more than 110,000 pounds of crayons into new designs and colorful creations.
12. Dog Fur
How much do you love your furry friend? Knit Your Dog recycles your pet’s hair into wool tumbling that they use to create clothing and accessories.
Get Creative With Recycling
There are plenty of organizations that recycle and upcycle materials that are a little out-of-the-box. Were you surprised by anything that made our list of items to recycle?