We might live in different places, in different houses and with different people. But we DO have one thing in common…
We all live on our great planet, Earth!
Unfortunately, living on this great globe can take a toll on the planet since our day-to-day activities are often wasteful and harmful to the environment.
Related: How to Be More Eco-Friendly at Home
That’s why taking small steps to be more eco-friendly can certainly be helpful over time!
One of the easiest ways to live a more sustainable life is by recycling. So simple yet so effective! But it isn’t always clear what you can recycle and what things are better off in the trash.
So, I put together some recycling tips and found a few items you probably didn’t know you could recycle. Because every little bit counts!
Recycling Tips: Unique Things That You Can Recycle
1. Coffee Grounds
While you might not want to brew a new cup of Joe with old coffee grounds, you can definitely still put them to good use!
The grounds are great for fertilizing your garden as they contain several key minerals for plant growth (like potassium, iron, calcium, etc.).
They can also repel bugs and pests! All you have to do is set out bowls of grounds or sprinkle them around outdoor seating area.
Need to do some household cleaning? Coffee grounds will come in handy here as well! Use them as a sort of “exfoliator” to polish cookware, clean your grill or scour your sink.
2. Aluminum Foil
When you’re cleaning up after a big meal, it’s easy to throw away your dirty or excess aluminum foil.
But since foil is 100 percent aluminum, you can easily throw it in the recycling bin along with all of your cans.
Just make sure to wash it first!
3. Cooking Oil
Your mom may have taught you to toss your cooking oil instead of putting it down the drain. But do you know why?
Sewers often overflow due to fat and oil buildup. And if you toss it, the oil can attract insects and rodents as well as cause further issues in the landfill.
So next time you need to get rid of the grease and oil from your delicious weeknight meal, check to see if there’s a curbside program near you that accepts this type of waste.
Did you know you should replace your mattress every 6-8 years? It’s true!
And when you make the big purchase, you can send your old mattress to a recycling factory that can separate the foam, metal, wood and cloth that you’ll find in the foundation.
While plastic toothbrushes are hard to recycle because of their composition, there are still options to dispose of them in an eco-friendly way.
Brands like Tom’s of Maine, Colgate and more partner with a company called Terracycle that will help you recycle your toothbrush.
Just join the program, print a free shipping label and send your package to the company.
Batteries are filled with acid, metals and chemicals that can be harmful to the environment.
So, if you need to toss the ones that don’t work any longer, think about recycling them instead.
Call2Recycle has a bunch of drop-off locations where you can easily dispose of your batteries. They also accept cell phones!
Call me a dork… but I get SO excited when I purchase a new appliance! But getting rid of the old one isn’t always easy.
Luckily, retailers like Best Buy and charities like Goodwill and The Salvation Army readily accept old appliances.
You can also find local pick-up services that will do all the work for you!
8. Computers and Electronics
Receiving a shiny laptop or a brand new phone is always exciting. And if you need to ditch your old device, it’s actually pretty simple.
Head over to E-Stewards to access a tool that will help you find responsible recyclers for tech waster. They also offer information on recycling best practices.
9. Athletic Shoes and Sneakers
Soles4Soles is an organization that was founded after Hurricane Katrina hit back in 2008. And today, they offer an easy way to recycle all of your shoes.
The organization also provides disaster relief and assistance to homeless children by distributing new shoes and clothes around the globe.
Did you know that over 120,000 pounds of crayons are produced EACH DAY in the United States alone? I was shocked too!
And when those crayons snap into multiple little pieces, you can throw them into your recycling bin instead of the trash.
You can also send them to Crazy Crayons where they’ll melt them down into new crayons.
11. Prescription Drugs
Properly disposing of prescription drugs is a must—especially since your medications can harm someone who comes in contact with them.
You can often go to your local pharmacy to donate your unused drugs.
The DEA also offers controlled substance locations to help you get rid of anything you don’t need anymore.
12. Holiday Lights
Maybe it’s just our family… but every year we seem to end up with frayed Christmas lights or multiple burnt-out bulbs.
We’ve always tossed these in the trash, but moving forward I’m looking into sending them to Holiday LEDs.
This company helps you recycle your old lights. Plus, they’ll send you a coupon to use on future holiday lights!
13. Ink Cartridges
Common office stores like Staples or Office Depot will readily accept your old ink cartridges or toners. You might also find kiosks at Target, Walmart, Best Buy and more.
Some stores will even pay you for recycling your cartridges!
14. Beauty Products
The term “beauty products” covers such a wide range of items that recycling them can be difficult.
But there are quite a few that don’t have to head to the landfill!
In general, if your beauty product packaging is made with less material (type), it can likely be recycled after a good rinsing. You also don’t have to remove labels beforehand!
Products under 2 inches can’t be recycled. Items with dark packaging or products containing mirrors or magnets are also typically not recyclable.
You can also opt for a recycling program like Nordstrom’s BEAUTYCYCLE program.
Since you don’t go through eyeglasses as often as something like toothbrushes or batteries, they won’t pile up in a landfill as quickly.
However, by recycling and donating your glasses, you can help someone in need!
There are plenty of places you can send your eyeglasses—like Lions Club International, Eyes of Hope, Lens Crafters and more. You can also ask your optometrist or local eyewear retailer if they have a give-back program.
A dirty diaper might not seem like a recyclable item, but thanks to companies like Dyper and Knowaste, tossing one of these little bundles isn’t all that difficult.
After all, a traditional diaper can take up to 500 years (yes, 500!) to decompose.
Whether you’ve traveled near and far on your bike or you have a child that has outgrown theirs, it may be time to retire your bicycle.
With that said, you don’t have to toss it in the trash when it’s time to get a new one. Instead, you can donate your bike to an organization called Bikes for The World which collects old bikes and saves them from the landfill.
They’ll take complete and usable bicycles, bike parts or bike accessories.
So, as you can see, recycling goes far beyond paper, plastic and metal. And I hope that with some of these recycling tips, you can add a few more things to your recycling bins this Earth Day!
From my home to yours,