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10 Unusual Items That You Can Recycle Or Dispose of in an Eco-Friendly Way

Updated on April 18, 2019


Recycling is for much more than paper and plastic. Many of the everyday items we use end up being hazardous waste because of there contents. Other items can take over fifty years before they start to decompose. Luckily there are places that will take these different items and recycle them for us. This is great for the environment and cuts back on the amount of trash that ends up in landfills. Check out these ten items you probably didn't know that you could recycle or take somewhere else to be properly dealt with.

1. Batteries

Batteries can be recycled. There are centers dedicated solely to this purpose. You don't have to go directly to these places most of the time. Recycling a battery is as easy as a trip to the grocery store. Most grocery stores have bins dedicated to recycling batteries. If it is an older battery made before the 70s than you may have to pay a small fee. Batteries made in that time period contained more hazardous waste than batteries today. The reason it is so important to recycle your old used batteries is because even the newest ones contain chemicals that if leaked into a landfill or water supply could cause a lot of pollution. You can avoid this altogether by using rechargeable batteries and when the time comes recycle them instead of throwing them out in the trash.


2. Mattresses

A mattress will take over fifty years to decompose. Over twenty million mattresses are thrown out a year. This takes up a lot of space in the landfills. Recycling your mattress can help bring these numbers down. The materials found in mattresses are not hazardous and can be used again to make new mattresses and other products. Most mattress retailers will take back your old mattress. Many charities will take them off your hands. You can take them apart yourself and recycle the scraps individually. Last but no least you can look up the nearest mattress recycling center. All of these options will keep your old mattress out of the landfills.


3. Medicine

Medications getting into the water supply and trash can have all kinds of horrible effects and consequences. Think before you toss them out. Most communities have a community take back program. These programs will properly dispose of these medications for you. The FDA has been working with drug companies to make sure that all medications have disposal instructions on the label somewhere. This way you will know what is okay to toss in the trash, flush or take to a community program. If there is no label you can look online or just play it safe and take it to be disposed of properly.


4. Toothbrushes

Toothbrushes are another of those items you don't think much about recycling. It is made of plastic but can you throw it in the recycle bin? The answer is that like batteries many local stores will have recycle bins specifically for toothbrushes. You can drop them off in these bins or mail them to the proper recycling company. Both these options are free. Another really cool thing you can do to get rid of your old toothbrushes is to turn them into plastic bracelets. This is a fun way to up-cycle and reuse old items.


5. Car Batteries and Oils

Car batteries and oils are really awful for the environment. They are so toxic that you have to be careful just handling them. There are a few options for recycling this kind of waste. You can take the batteries back to where you purchased them or to a car parts shop. These two options may charge you but a metal scrap yard might actually pay you depending on where you live and if they take them. You can look up a local place to take old oil and car fluids. A lot of auto stores collect old fluids to be recycled.


6. Electronics

If you have old electronics that still work the best option is to donate them. This will give them a second life while helping someone in need. There are lots of different organizations that will take items off your hands. You can check online to see what is available in your local area. If it is a broken item then you can usually get free postage to send the product back to the company for recycling. Other places like metal scrap yards may also take these items off your hands. It is important to dispose of electronics properly because many of them contain toxic chemicals that can contribute to pollution.


7. Aerosol Cans

It is really important to dispose of these properly. There are two ways to get rid of these items. The first is to make sure that the can is completely empty. Remove the labels and place into your recycling bin. This is the best option unless the contents are toxic. If that is the case then you need to look up your local hazardous waste programs to find the correct place to dispose of them.


8. Household Cleaners

Household cleaners cannot be recycled but they do need to be disposed of properly. The trash is not the place. These chemicals can be toxic when leaked into the water supply and landfills. The best thing to do is to look up the city guidelines and programs for toxic waste disposal. Another option to avoid this process is to use natural safe cleaners instead. These can be disposed of in the sink or toilet and the bottles can be reused. There are also safe green cleaners you can buy at the grocery store.


9. Polystyrene or Plastic Foam

Polystyrene is what packaging peanuts and Styrofoam cups are made of. This material takes a very long time to break down and a lot of work to contain because it is such a lightweight material. There are many ways you can recycle this product. You can send most packaging back to the company it came from to be reused. This method works best for packaging peanuts. Another polystyrene like the foam cups can be sent to a center specifically made for this material. In the recycling center, they breakdown reheat and then reform the polystyrene to be used again. Policies and centers differ from location to location.


10. Light Bulbs

You might be surprised to hear that most light bulbs contain a number of toxins. These toxins can be a real problem for the environment if they are not properly taken care of. There are a few different things you can do. The first would be to go to your cities recycling or community programs website and see what programs are available. Another thing you can do is to go to a website like Where they will send you postage and packaging so you can send them your lights. Another more creative thing you can do is make ornaments or try other up-cycling projects that use light bulbs. The very best thing you can do is to make sure that you are buying environmentally friendly lighting. these lights use less energy and last much longer than the older style of lights.


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There is much that you can do to keep our world green. The biggest, best and most important thing you can do is to be well informed and share what you know. Recycling and eco-friendly habits should be the norm. Unfortunately, we are not there yet but, when you learn what you can and share what you know it makes a big difference. Thank you for taking the time to read about recycling I hope you found this information useful.


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