8 Things You Didn’t Know You Could Recycle
By: Maurine Anderson
Many of us are used to recycling things like newspaper, glass bottles, plastic tubs, and soda cans, but did you know that there are a great many more things that you could be recycling as well? Here is a look at 10 things you didn’t know you could recycle.
Plastic bags and film
You may have known that it’s possible to recycle plastic store bags by bringing them to a designated drop-off location in your area (such as a nearby grocery store), but what you may not have known is that you can recycle other types of plastic bags and plastic film at these as well. In addition to plastic store bags, you can also include zip close food storage bags, plastic cereal box liners, furniture and electronic wrap, plastic shipping envelopes, product wrap (such as on toilet paper), and any film packaging or bag that has the How2Recycle Label shown at right. All plastic bags and film for drop-off must be clean, dry, and free of any receipts or labels.
Many people don’t recycle toiletry and makeup containers simply because they seem to be made of too many materials to recycle. Recycling this makeup packaging, however is easier than you think. Many makeup companies like MAC Cosmetics, LUSH, Origins, and Aveda have their own programs which allow you to take old packaging in for some sort of discount on their products. If your cosmetics company doesn’t offer a recycling program, you can also work through a program like TerraCycle to recycle your makeup packaging responsibly. Alternatively, you can upcycle your old cosmetics containers simply by reusing them for new purposes.
You’ll often find instructions for recycling your old ink cartridges right on the package of your new ink cartridge. In fact, some companies even include packing materials and free postage right in the box in case you want to recycle your old cartridge via mail. Alternatively, you can have your ink cartridge refilled at a retailer like Walgreens or Costco. Office supplies stores like Office Depot also usually run ink cartridge recycling programs, letting you recycle your ink and toner cartridges in-store.
As this article points out, batteries are another often under-recycled product. Alkaline or copper zinc AAA, AA, C, D, 6V, and 9V batteries should be placed in the trash, but most other types of batteries can either be recycled or have regulations concerning proper disposal methods. Batteries you can recycle include rechargeable AA and AAA batteries, lithium batteries, lithium ion batteries, and zinc air batteries. You can also recycle those rechargeable batteries that are found in devices such as cell phones, cameras, laptops, and power tools. (When in doubt, look for the battery recycling seals on recyclable batteries.) To recycle these batteries, visit a site like call2recycle.org to find a battery recycling location near you. If you wish to recycle your old car battery, meanwhile, you can bring it to a waste management center which will eventually recycle it, or you can look for an auto retailer or service center who might buy it back from you.
Computers and electronics
Computers and electronics can be recycled either by bringing them to a local Goodwill or shelter, or by going through a local responsible recycler. (You can go to e-Stewards.org to find a local recycler near you.) Some retailers like Staples and Best Buy may also take your old electronics off your hands for recycling.
If your old appliance still works, you can take it to a local Goodwill so that it can be re-used. Non-working appliances can be recycled through a local appliance recycler. Visit Earth911.com or recycle-steel.org to find a recycler near you.
Fluorescent light bulbs
Yep—fluorescent light bulbs can indeed be recycled. The easiest way to recycle these is to take them to a local IKEA, Home Depot, or Lowe’s.
Christmas trees—real or fake—can be recycled as well. To recycle a real Christmas tree, take advantage of Christmas tree pick up or drop off if your city offers it, as these services will take the trees and grind them into mulch for city parks. If your city doesn’t offer such a service, you can alternatively work through an organization such as Boy Scouts, who might pick up your tree for recycling for a modest fee. To recycle a fake Christmas tree, consider donating it to a thrift store or charity so that it can be reused.