What Can Be Recycled?: An Ultimate List of 101+ Items

You’ve definitely heard times without number that recycling your used items is eco-friendly and the best way to keep them from damaging natural resources.

But, do you even know what can be recycled in your home?

Well, to help you out, we put together this A to Z guide on 101 commonly used items in your home that can be recycled. 

If you are looking for a specific item type then you can use our alphabetic index. 

A

Aerosol cans (Hairspray, Paint etc)

They’re usually made from aluminum or steel which can be recycled into new metal products. Once you have exhausted the contents, remove the plastic caps so that they can be recycled with other. Don’t puncture the cans or try to remove the nozzles as this can hurt you. Find out if a drop-off location for aerosol cans exists in your area and if they are classified as household hazardous waste (HHW).

Aluminum: wraps, cans & bottles

If you are uninterested in reusing your aluminum materials, most recycling centers accept would accept them especially the foil wraps. If you’re lucky, you could find a recycling company that wouldn’t mind paying you too.

Antiperspirants and deodorant sticks

Having emptied your antiperspirants and deodorant sticks, check the bodies for the “recycle” symbol. Some recycling companies might not be able to recycle the whole thing but you can always check the bottom of the tubes to confirm the plastic type.

Appliances

If your home appliances are still in working condition, you could consider selling them or donating them to local charities in your area. If they no longer work, it’s advisable to give them up as scrap to recycling companies. Large appliances like air conditioners, refrigerators contain chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) which is not eco-friendly and would require procedures to be followed when disposing or recycling them.

B

Batteries

Recycling your used batteries is a great way of keeping hazardous waste away from the environment. Alkaline batteries can be disposed in the bin but rechargeable batteries or batteries made from lithium contain toxic chemicals and must be recycled. Locate a battery recycling centre near you or make use of online recycling companies.

Beach Balls

Repair your damaged beach balls and reuse if you still want them. If they’re still good and you don’t want them anymore, give them to charity or sell as thrift items. Also, find out if you can recycle them in your area.

Backpacks

You can donate your backpacks to charity, associations that would need them or sell as thrift items.

Buckets​

You can donate your plastic buckets to youth organisations or drop them off at recycling centres. If they’re metal buckets, search for recycling locations that accept metals and give them up for recycling.

Books

If the books are in good condition – not missing pages or too dirty- they can be donated to libraries, schools, hospitals or charity or sold either as thrift items or online. Otherwise, get rid of the hard covers and toss the pages in the paper bin or have them given to www.recycleyourtextbooks.com.

C

Candles

Do you know that you can make new candles from your old ones? It’s easy, saves you more money and eco-friendly. Melt the wax gotten from the old candle scraps in a sauce pan and pour into a mould, add a cotton string and you’re good to go.

Carpets

Find out if you can ship back used carpets to the manufacturer but contact them first to know if they’ve recycling programs or simply repurpose them by turning them into doormats or car mats.

Cassette tapes, CDs and DVDs

The plastic parts in cassettes can be removed as well as the magnetic tapes. Give the magnetic tapes to gardeners or make use of them for your home garden (it can be used as twine for plants). Find out if there are recycling centres for CDs and DVDs in your area. You can also donate your tapes, CDs and DVDs to disability centres, give to the library or bookstores or even sell as thrift items.

Cell phones

If you no longer want your phone, donate to charity or do a trade in on Verizon. There are many phone companies that offer recycling services, you can find out if one exists in your area and if they’d accept yours.

Christmas Tree

You can reuse your Christmas tree every Christmas season by simply redecorating but if you don’t want it anymore, you can get rid of it. The good news is that they are biodegradable and can be disposed normally or simply find a collection centre for it in your area.

Christmas lights

You can use recycling programs like Holiday-Leds for your Christmas lights that you want to get rid of.

Clothing

If your clothes are still wearable but you don’t want them anymore, give them to charity, shelters, religious institutions or sell as thrift items. If they’re not wearable anymore, you can still give them to organisations like Goodwill who would have them sold to textile recyclers. Some clothing brands, like Nike, have recycling programs in place for returns of their used products.

Compact fluorescent light-bulbs (CFLs)

CFLs contain mercury hence, you shouldn’t just thrash them. Instead, check with the local hardware store in your area or any other recycling centre available to see if they offer recycling services for CFLs or take advantage of an online recycling network.

Computers

You can return your used computers, keyboards, mouse etc. to the manufacturers to be refurbished and resold or have them donated to charity. If they’re damaged you can still have them donated to Next Step.

Crayons

If your kids don’t want their crayons anymore, you can get them to label them with the corresponding colours and have them sent off to the Crayon Recycle Program where they’d be recycled.

D

Dehumidifiers

Get in touch with the department of public works in your area to find out safe disposal points.

Dishwashers

Follow the same procedures for appliances.

Denim

For your used denim clothing, you could have them donated or check if a denim recycling centre exists in your area else, have them mailed to Blue Jeans Go Green.

Drywall

Find out if your local solid waste area would accept construction materials or check out Habitat for Humanity.

E

Egg shells

They’re very beneficial when added to the compost pile for your garden or find out if a food waste collection scheme exists near you.

Electronics

Find out if there are retailers with trade in options in your area or drop off at your local recycling centre.

Empty cans (cleaning and food products)

For metal cans, they can be recycled as scrap metals. If they’re made of plastic, have them recycled the same way as other plastics.

Eyeglasses

Metal frames can be recycled as with any other scrap metal but plastic frames are non-recyclable. Whether or not your glasses are in good condition, have them donated to someone in need.

F

Fire extinguishers

Find out if your empty cans can be refilled or exchanged for new ones from the fire department in your area.

Food processors

If they still work, have them donated. If damaged, they can be recycled as with appliances.

Food waste

To reduce the amount of food you empty into your bin, add them to your compost pile for your garden. Donate unexpired food to rescue organisations and also find out if a food waste collection centre exists in your area for expired food.

Furniture

If you have large furniture you don’t want anymore, have them upcycled. You can have them refinished if you still want them or just donate them to charity. You can also check if curbside recycling exists in your area.

Formal wear

You can gift your formal wears, like a prom dress, to girls in need.

G

Game Consoles

You can gift out your game consoles if you don’t need them anymore or check if recyclers like e-Stewards are available near you.

Glue Containers

Have them recycled the same way as plastics or sent to Terracycle.

Grass Cuttings

You can spread them back after cutting to condition the soil or add them to your compost pile.

Gift cards

There are some companies which produce biodegradable cards. If yours don’t fall in that category, mail them for recycling to Earthworks System.

Glass

Glass bottles and cups that are no more in use can be taken to collection centres or left for curbside recycling if available in your area.

Grey water

This is the waste water from your hand washed dishes or washing machine. You can simply use the water to water your plants.

H

Hangers

If your hangers are made from plastic, have them donated or sold as thrift items. For metal hangers, simply give them to your local drycleaner or have them recycled as scrap metal.

Household hazardous waste (HHW)

Find out if your area has stipulated days for collecting HHW.

Holiday Cards

You can have these sent to a recycling card program available in your area to be recycled and given a new life.

J

Jars

Recycle your glass jars the same way you recycle your glass after removing the lid, if metal, recycle as scrap metal.

Jugs

Recycle your plastic jugs same way as plastics and the glass jugs should be recycled the same as glass.

Juice/milk boxes.

Find out if the local recycling centre in your area will collect the boxes or make use of Terracycle.

Jewellery

You can have your jewellery recycled for cash, sold as thrift items or donated. If you’ve gem stones, have them taken to antique stores.

Junk mail

Get rid of junk mail same way as you would paper or make use of the PaperKarma app to unsubscribe from mailing lists.

K-L

Keys and nail clippers

You can have them recycled the same way as  metals.

Kitchen Utensils

You can have your kitchen utensils, like pots and pans, donated to charity or since they are usually made of steel, they can be as well recycled as scrap metal. For plastic utensils, you can confirm with your local recycling centre if they’re recyclable or are to be trashed.

Kitchen cabinets

Resell your old cabinets, have them donated to charity or for projects by organisations like Habitat for Humanity if they exist in your area.

Knifes

Recycle them as scrap metals or have them donated to charity or sold as thrift items.

Leather accessories

You can have your leather accessories fixed but if you don’t want them anymore, especially your leather shoes, have them donated.

Legos

If your kids have no more use for their Legos, have them donated or find a collector on eBay.

M-N

Mattresses and box strings

Mattresses are made from recyclable materials. Check if a recycling centre for it exists in your area, donate (YES, even with the box strings) to charity or Freecycle it if all else fails.

Magazines

Old magazines and newspapers are made from paper and can be recycled the same way.

Makeup

Some makeup brands, like MAC, offer attractive deals to their consumers when they participate in their recycling programs. Find out if there are counter stores in your areas that’d recycle any makeup brand for you.

Medications

Don’t just indiscriminately thrash or flush your prescriptions down the drain (unless if stated as an option on the pack). Find out if a drug take-back scheme exists in your area. Ensure that you’ve removed any traceable identity on your pill bottles before dumping them in the recycle bin.

Metals

Everything made from metals should be recycled just like any other scrap metal or recycled through available curbside programs in your area.

Microwaves

Carry out the same procedures as with appliances.

Mirrors

You can donate mirrors in good conditions to second-hand stores or confirm if there are recycling centers in your area since it can’t be treated as other glass products due to different mixtures of chemicals.

Newspapers & Notepads

Recycle your old newspapers same way with paper or check if curbside recycling is available in your area.

Nylon

Products made from nylon are thermoplastic and can be recycled. Confirm if there are recycling programs for such in your area.

P-Q

Paint

Find out if a Reuse Room is available in your area where you can drop off old household paint that can be turned into new paint or search for one using PaintCare.

Paper

Everything made from paper is recyclable and are acceptable by many recycling centres.

Pens and markers

Have them donated to non-profits or shipped to Terracycle.

Phone books

Ensure personal info has been removed before checking if a recycling centre exists in your area.

Post-its

Recycle post-its just the same way you’d go about recycling your used papers.

Pizza boxes

They can be recycled alongside with corrugated cardboard paper as long as they’re not soiled.

Plastics

All plastic products are to be recycled according to their numbers. You can find out if the recycling centre in your area accepts all plastic types or follow numbers.

Quiche pans

Even with a plastic handle, they can be recycled as with scrap metals.

Quilts

As long as they’re machine washable, you can have them donated to shelters for humans or animals.

R-T

Rags

Take advantage of Donate Stuff to get rid of your damaged fabrics or any similar programs.

Rubber products

If you have any products made from rubber that you’ve no use for anymore, you can find out if a rubber recycling centre is available near you or contact companies like Rubber Recycle to know where you can have your products recycled.

Rubber bands

To keep your rubber bands reusable, you can store them in your refrigerator. You can also donate them to a kids’ school in your area.

Rugs

Whether they’re made of cotton or wool, if you’ve a home garden, you can have them used as mulch else, find out if a recycling centre for rugs exists in your area.

Shoes

For sneakers, Nike’s Reuse-a-Shoe program accepts old athletic shoes or sneakers of any brand and recycles. If you have a Nike store in your area, first confirm if they’re accepting before going to drop them off. If your athletic shoes are in good shape, have them donated and don’t forget to give out your other shoes too.

Shopping bags

Recycle paper shopping bags with paper and return plastic bags to grocery stores if your local centre doesn’t accept plastic bags.

Smoke detectors

If there aren’t collection centres for yours, contact the manufacturer.

Sport equipment

Trade to Play It Again Sports or have them recycled.

Soaps and sponges

You can reuse your soaps by getting creative with it or donating to non-profits. Sponges made from natural materials last longer and can be used in compost pile as they’re biodegradable. Synthetic sponges might not be recyclable but can be used to serve another purpose.

Take-outs

Chinese take-outs that are not soiled can be recycled alongside with cardboards or used in making compost if stained. For plastic take-outs, confirm if they’re acceptable in your local plastic recycling centre.

Toothpaste tubes and toothbrushes

Toothbrushes made from recycled materials, like in the case of Recycline, can be sent back to them for recycling. Toothpaste tubes made from aluminium can be recycled and the ones made from plastic can be sent to Terracycle.

Tinfoil

Recycle the same way as with aluminium.

Toys

You can donate your kids’ toys to non-profits or check for recycling centres in your area.

Trash

Ensure you’ve carefully separated from your trash, items that are for recycling or for donations.

U-W

Umbrellas

Plastic umbrellas can be donated if still in good condition as they’re not recyclable. For umbrellas made from metal, the metal can be recycled as a scrap metal after the fabric and handle has been removed.

Used pillows

Due to hygienic reasons, they’re better donated to animal shelters.

Used clothing

Check for recycling centres in your area or donate to animal shelters.

Used towels and sheets

They can be donated or recycled same as in clothing.

Vinyl

Containers made from vinyl material can be identified with the “3” symbol. Confirm if there is a vinyl accepting recycling centre in your area. For your vinyl albums or records, you can recycle the cardboard sleeves. For the albums, themselves, you can refer to the music store in your area if they’d buy them from you.

Wine corks

Find out if there are recycling centres in your area for wine corks or connect with ReCork’s recycling program and give new life to your wine corks.

Water bottles

Find out if the plastic recycling centre in your area can accept them or a curbside program.

Water filters

Terracycle can be mailed your water filters for recycling purposes. If any part of the water filter has plastic, they should be separated and recycled separately.

Wood

Anything made from wood in your home can be recycled or changed to serve another purpose. Confirm if you’ve recycling centres for your wooden materials or have them given to charity if in reasonable condition.

X-Z

X-box

Find out if a Microsoft recycling centre exists in your area or recycle the same way as you would Game consoles.

Yoga Mats

Check for recycling or collection centres for yoga mats in your area or make use of RecycleYourMat.com.

Yard Waste

You can use the decomposable parts of your yard waste and add to your compost pile. Confirm how the yard waste collection process in your area works.

Yoghurt cups

Find out if the recycling centers in your area would accept them.

Ziploc Bags

Once they’re cleaned, they can be recycled alongside plastic shopping bags.

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