The most commonly recycled items are aluminum cans, plastic bottles, and glass jars. It seems that almost anywhere in the United States, these items have some kind of curbside program. Some areas, like Los Angeles, go even further than just those common items. Here, I can recycle any plastic of all numbers and plastic bags of almost every type too. Usually, curbside programs only accept plastics #1 and #2. The numbers actually go up to 7. The plastics after the first two are generally much harder to recycle, and thus there isn’t as great of a demand to recycle those. Recycling plants still are businesses that need to make a profit to keep running. If you’re lucky enough to live in a larger city, you probably have the same options that I do. It’s great to be able to recycle so much of our waste just outside our door.
There are a number of other items we can actually recycle that don’t go into curbside! This list can go from electronics, Brita filters, reusable bags, clothing, books, bras, and shoes. Some of these places take hard-to-recycle items, while others take gently-used items for reuse and distribution. It’s even more ways to cut down on the waste we create.
Beauty Products, Dental Products, Food Wrappers, Cigarette Butts, Diaper Packaging
This is one of my favorite businesses! Terracycle takes a high number of odd, not usually recycled, items and turns them into new products. For example, a messenger bag made of Capri Sun drink pouches or a small purse made of candy wrappers. You sign up, pick a collection to collect items for, send it in (free shipping), and get points that go towards schools. Individuals can do this, but a lot of schools are involved.
Many electronics can’t just be dumped into the trash because of the hazardous and precious metals they contain. There are two ways I know of that are easy to dispose of electronics for proper handling. The easiest is going to your local Best Buy. They take basically any electronic from you. Inkjet cartridges, CD’s and DVD’s, electrical cables, clocks, old VCR’s, and the list goes on. Best Buy is best for smaller electronics. Once you get into things like TV’s, you have to pay them a $10 fee to recycle. Technically you get that back in the form of a $10 gift card, but I would prefer to go a different route.
For larger electronics, find an e-waste center that will take it for free. This can be a center only for e-waste, or it can be a hazardous waste facility. Cities also sometimes have e-waste or hazardous waste events. Check a local calendar to see if one is happening near you.
Preserve: Gimme 5
Brita got a lot of flack when they didn’t even offer any option for recycling their filters. They generally promote their filters as environmentally-friendly, a great alternative to bottled water, but then their filters weren’t recyclable! Now, they’ve teamed up with Preserve to recycle their filters! Check out the link to see if there is a drop-off location near you. If not, you can ship it to them. Whole Foods might be a drop-off location. You do have to pay for the shipping fee, but for me it’s worth it to be more waste free.
Number 5 Plastics
Preserve: Gimme 5
For locations that don’t offer #5 plastic curbside recycling, you can still recycle those types of plastics. Preserve will take those plastics and turn them into products they sell. I’ve seen their toothbrushes made of recycled #5 plastics in store before. They also have sturdy plastic-ware for sale too. It’s the same company that takes Brita filters for recycling. Check the link to see if there’s a drop-off location nearby. Whole Foods might be a drop-off location. Or you can ship it to them.
Download Aveda Recap Collection PDF
Recycling bottle caps is generally hard to do also. Bottle caps are made of #5 plastic. Bottle caps are small and may clog machinery, plus they aren’t big enough to be worth recycling sometimes. I’ve heard that bottle caps are generally sorted out and thrown away. Aveda stores will take back these caps and make sure they are recycled! Read the PDF to see which types of caps are taken. I’m not sure if Aveda salons are participating. I’ve tried before and they didn’t take it there.
Soles 4 Souls
If you don’t feel like giving away your shoes to a local Goodwill or Salvation Army, you could donate your shoes to Soles 4 Souls. They redistribute your shoes to people who need them. Request a box from them to fill up with shoes. You can always ask your friends to see if they have any shoes they don’t want anymore.
For the ladies reading this, and men too! Men, you can tell your lady friends about this. Thrift shops and Goodwill can’t take your bras, but this organization will distribute it to women that need bras!
Chico bags takes old reusable bags and creates new items out of them, such as rugs and totebags! I haven’t had any reusable bags go kaput yet, but when I do then I’ll send them here.
There are a lot of businesses and non-profits out there who help make our waste into something better or recycle it properly. If you know of any other ones, please share! Goodwill is always great for donating items, but sometimes those items are better used elsewhere. It’s up to you where you want to donate your goods.
Have you heard of these recycling/reuse options before?