While the rate of consumption, and all the packaging that comes with it, differs from person to person, we all can agree that recycling has never been more important. Expanding our understanding of recycling is also just as important (there’s more ways to recycle than you might think). We know the ins and outs of recycling things like cardboard, paper, glass and plastic but here are 10 things you may not know are also recyclable. Each item’s recyclability depends on services offered in your area. You may want to check with your community recycling programs before dumping anything in the bin. 


Electronics and Computers

We all have those old DVD players and stereo equipment collecting dust in closets and garages. These can all easily be recycled. Check with your city or town’s recycling program to see exactly where and when you can drop off these devices. Some electronic stores may even do trade-ins meaning you could save some money on your sleek new upgrades.

Pile of used denim jeans


Clothing and Footwear

Goodwill and other community services depend heavily upon previously worn clothing and accessories for those who need them. Before clearing out your closet, check with your local homeless shelters, Goodwill stores and even churches to find out when you can drop off the clothing you’d like to give away. 


Batteries

Although most of our devices and gadgets now come with rechargeable batteries, buying single use batteries is still necessary from time to time but they can be recycled. Buying rechargeable batteries will be better for your wallet and the environment in the long run but you may want to look into seeing if your local recycling center can recycle batteries. They shouldn’t be disposed of in the trash.

Used tennis racquets


Sports Equipment

Second hand sports stores thrive on the sports clothing that you don’t wear or use anymore and equipment that your kids have grown out of. Instead of letting that equipment pile up unused in your garage, load it into the car and bring it where it can be used to score yet another winning goal. For objects like old yoga mats and rubber balancing balls, these items can easily be recycled at home. 


Mattresses 

The lumpy mattress you no longer want to sleep on is extremely recyclable. The natural materials found in a traditional mattress (wood, metal, cotton etc.) can be used to make other furniture or be used for something completely different. In many cases the mattress company you buy from will take your old mattress off your hands. Make sure they recycle before you let them walk away with it. 

Used electronics


Cellphones and Tablets

Like computers and other electronic equipment, cellphones and tablets can also easily find new life. By simply bringing them back to the manufacturer once they are obsolete, they can be disassembled and some of the materials can be used to create the next generation of phones you’ll surely want to keep your eye on. There are often drop off boxes in shopping centers for smaller electronics if your phone is too old for trade-in. 


Christmas Trees and Lights

Once your Christmas tree has reached the end of its holiday life, it can be recycled. This is another one of those cases where you will have to check with your local recycling center to make sure they can actually pick up the tree and use it to create mulch and other ways of organically helping the environment. The same goes for Christmas lights. If a set is no longer in working order, bring it to your recycling center and they will take care of breaking it down. 

Used crayons for children


Crayons

There’s nothing like opening a fresh box of crayons but when those wax spears start to wear down to a nub of their former selves, it’s easy to think about throwing them in the trash. Instead, collect your still usable crayons and bring them to local daycare centers, schools or thrift shops. Someone else will enjoy the use they get out of them. 


Makeup Containers

All those little empty makeup jars that are taking up space in your bathroom can find a new life once they are returned to the company where you bought them. Most major make-up retailers now have programs that will take your containers and even give you a discount on your next purchase. Before bringing them back, give your favorite make-up counter a call and make sure they subscribe to such a program.

Used wine corks


Wine Corks
 

Instead of popping your wine corks into one of those almost unfillable vast vases, recycle them instead! There’s plenty of ways that cork can be recycled, including the creation of everything from counter-saving trivets to eco-friendly cutting boards. Look up some local artisans and craft manufacturers in your community to see if they have a need for those corks. You may be surprised with what they come up with.

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Blair Dohey