3 Common Things That You Didn’t Know You Could Recycle

Most Americans participate in community recycling programs to some degree, and the most common recyclables include cardboard, aluminum cans, and glass bottles. However,there are many other items that people do not recycle simply because they do not realize that they can. Some of these items can be put into a recycling bin, while others should be recycled through special recycling programs. Thus, before you throw out an item that you think is strictly trash, you should conduct some research to find out if there is a recycling program that accepts those specific items. Doing so will not only keep waste out of landfills, but the donated or recycled items will—in many cases—help someone in need.

1. Electronics

While electronics are generally not safe to put into trash bins, they should not end up in landfills either. If you have an older electronic device, you may not be able to sell it or trade it in for a new device. You may be left wondering what you could possibly do with an old device that you really can’t throw away. Many cities across the United States participate in an electronics recycling program in an effort to keep these items out of local landfills. Additionally, many electronics manufacturers have their own separate programs to recycle electronics.

The parts from your old electronic device may be used in a new device, or the parts may be processed so that they can be used again for a different purpose. Whether you choose to turn your old electronic device directly over to a mobile carrier or to donate it to your community’s recycling program, the overreaching goal is the same: to keep these devices from cluttering up landfills and potentially leeching harmful chemicals into the ecosystem.

2. Shoes

Shoes are yet another type of item that you may think should head straight to the garbage once they have run their course. However, even if you don’t feel comfortable giving your old shoes away to a thrift store or selling them online, they don’t necessarily have to end up in the trash, either. Nike is one manufacturer that offers a dedicated recycling program for your old shoes.

The Nike Reuse-a- Shoe program allows you to place your old, unusable shoes into dedicated recycling bins, no matter how worn they may be. In addition, there is an option for you to donate shoes that are gently used. The program is beneficial because not only do your shoes not go to waste and harm the environment, but you can also feel great about the fact that your old shoes helped to build something completely new, such as a playground, or that they were used as components for new shoes. Through the Reuse-a- Shoe program, more than 1 million shoes are recycled each year. A number of shoe donation programs are available, such as Soles4Souls, which takes your used shoes and donates them to individuals in need worldwide.

3. Styrofoam

Polystyrene, which is more commonly known as Styrofoam, is used in everything from food service packaging to padding for the shipment of fragile items. While Styrofoam is certainly durable and useful for these applications, it is bad for the environment because it is not biodegradable. A common misconception is that Styrofoam or similar materials are not recyclable and therefore destined to end up in a landfill somewhere. While it’s certainly true that not all types of Styrofoam are recyclable, foam items labeled with polystyrene #6 are of the recyclable variety. These items are easily identified by the #6 PS symbol that appears on the bottom of the package. EPS, or expanded polystyrene, is also considered recyclable.

While these types of foam are recyclable, many communities do not accept foam of any kind to be recyclable, and additional steps must be taken. If your community does not accept foam, then it can be donated to local shipping facilities such as UPS or sent to a regional recycling center. The foam is often reused to make durable goods, such as picture frames, school supplies, and other kinds of household objects.

This list is a just small sample of all the uncommon items that can be successfully recycled. Cosmetics, batteries, and even expired prescription drugs can be recycled, and information on how to do so is widely available. The next time you find yourself on the verge of discarding an item that you believe is not recyclable or usable by someone else, be sure to do your research to find out for sure whether you can recycle it. While it may take a little more effort, it will be well worth it if one less item is out there that can harm the planet.


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