Top 5 Items You Didn’t Know Were Recyclable

Most people these days understand that the bin marked with a green triangle is meant for recycling glass, plastic, and aluminum products. And in the home and office, many of us recycled paper, as well. Plenty of people also give clothing and housewares a second life by donating them to charitable organizations. But there are all kinds of items that people simply toss in the trash because they don’t realize that recycling is an option. Here are just a few commonly discarded items you might not know you can recycle.

Light bulbs

So you’ve made the switch to sustainable lighting, but even though energy-efficient compact fluorescent bulbs are said to last ten times as long as their incandescent counterparts, they’ll still burn out eventually. What then? Luckily, these bulbs can be recycled. If you buy from IKEA they will gladly take back your CFLs when they cease to function. Ace Hardware, Home Depot, and Lowe’s are other stores that offer similar programs. Otherwise you can call your local trash collection service to ask about recycling options or go to to find a recycling center near you. There are also several mail-in services you might try (check out to find listings), but you’ll have to pay for postage, so seek out local services first.

Ink cartridges

In case you didn’t know, you don’t have to toss your used ink cartridges in the trash when they dry up. Instead, buy them at Staples and take them back for a $2 rebate to put towards your next purchase. And when you hit your limit for the year, send the rest to You could earn anywhere from a penny to three bucks for every cartridge (depending on the type) and you can even purchase refilled cartridges for your printer if you have heavy volume (like for a business, for example).


Sure you can donate your still usable footwear to Goodwill, The Salvation Army, or any number of other charitable organizations that provide clothing to the needy. But what about the sneakers that are falling apart at the seams? Is there a place for these shoes to be recycled? As it turns out, Nike’s Reuse-a-Shoe program will shred them up and turn them into surfaces for gymnasiums and playgrounds.


When you buy a new stove or refrigerator, the company that installs it often hauls it away for you. But where does it go? If it turns out that it heads straight for the landfill you might want to consider calling up Goodwill to see if they will pick it up instead (provided it still works). Or you could contact as an alternative.


Many technology companies that are known for PC wholesale have decided to own their part in the e-waste epidemic and reverse their contributions to it by allowing consumers to drop off old office technology (monitors, printers, laptops, and more) so that it can be recycled. Both Dell and Staples offer such programs and they will even take electronic devices that weren’t purchased from them. You can also check with your trash collection service to find out about free pickup and drop-off days for these items so that you don’t have to pay to dispose of them responsibly.

About the Author

Leon Harris is a freelance writer based in Camarillo, California. A lover of both words and coffee, he can regularly be found either reading or writing at his local coffee shop. If not at the coffee shop, he is usually at UC Santa Barbara, where he attends college part-time.
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  • To recycle all those items in the bathroom, bedroom, or office that might not otherwise make their way into your kitchen recycle bin, check out the Solecan. If you think it is a good idea, please like our page on Facebook at to help bring Solecan to a store near you.

  • Recycling efforts in Muskoka, Ontario, Canada include clothing as fibre. So when it’s past the “passing along” phase of its life, perhaps a bit tattered and torn, blue boxes here will accept and put those garments into fibre recycling programs used for a growing number of uses including packaging.


    • That would be so useful everywhere, Cathie. I try to make scrap cloths with tattered pieces of clothing but you only need so many scraps!