We all know what goes in the recycling bins we put out on our driveways every week – newspapers, milk jugs, aluminum cans, et cetera. But you still could be throwing away many items that can be recycled almost as easily. Here is a list of a few items you probably didn’t know you could recycle:
● Plastic sandwich/snack bags (like Ziploc brand): Clean and dry plastic bags can be recycled along with plastic grocery bags, which are taken and recycled by most grocery stores. This also includes the plastic bags that carry bread, produce, or dry-cleaning, toilet paper/napkin/paper towel wrapping, and any other bags labeled #2 or #4.
● Toilet paper rolls: When you think about it, it’s actually quite obvious – these rolls are made out of cardboard, of course you can recycle them with your other cardboard recyclables! However, most people just don’t think of it. A convenient way to collect these is to put a small box or paper bag next to your bathroom trash can, and empty it into the recycling as needed. Additionally, these rolls can be reused in many ways, such as for kids crafts or to keep extension cords or light strings neatly bound up when not in use.
● CDs, DVDs, and other small electronics: Have any old (or potentially embarrassing) CDs lying around? You could always donate CDs and DVDs to an organization like Goodwill or Salvation Army, but if they are scratched or broken, they can be recycled. There are many companies that you can simply mail your discs in to be recycled for free, like the CD Recycling Center of America. Many others can be found with a quick Internet search. Or, take them to your nearest Best Buy – they collect and recycle CDs as well as many small electronics items, such as ink cartridges, cables, and even old computers and televisions. Just be sure to check the website first – each state has different requirements for items you can drop off, as well as a limit on how many per day. (Also, if you really haven’t purged your collection in a while, you can even find places to recycle your VHS tapes!)
● Brita filters: I love my Brita filter for purifying the tap water in my home – but I always felt bad tossing the old filter into the trash every month. Then I found out that Whole Foods collects them (as well as other #5 plastics, like yogurt containers) to be recycled into toothbrushes via the “Gimme 5” program. Make sure to check with your local Whole Foods to make sure they have the program there. [Note – all water filters are different, so they only take the Brita brand filters.]
● Batteries: Single-use batteries are very dangerous when tossed in landfills; as they break down they release very hazardous chemicals that could leech into water systems. These can be recycled in a variety of ways, including mail-in or drop-off programs, or many hazardous waste collection sites will take batteries.
● Snack bags, chips bags, candy wrappers: Many of the traditionally non-recyclable wrappers used for snacks, candies, and other foods can be shipped to TerraCycle, where the items are recycled into things like park benches or upcycled to create items like backpacks and wallets. The best part is they pay the shipping for you, and for every item, $0.02 is donated to a charity or school of your choice! Visit TerraCycle.net for more details.
Of course, there are many other items in your home that are made from plastics or metals that you wouldn’t think to recycle, but can be in some shape or form. Make sure to do a little research before throwing items out that you think may be recyclable or contain recyclable materials. First and foremost, the top priority should be to reduce waste as much as possible. Before tossing out an item, ask yourself, could I reuse this? Or, could I donate it? If it’s unusable, check to see if recycling options exist. There will be some items that unfortunately just can’t be recycled, but at least you’ve reduced as much unnecessary landfill space as possible.