10 things you maybe didn't realize you could recycle

Mary Kate Miller
October 13, 2017
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In order to reduce waste, upping our recycling game has to be part of the process.

Yes, you probably already know about your city’s recycling program for paper, plastic, and glass. But what about the items that fall outside of typical blue bin materials? Turns out there are ways to recycle lots of other products, from running shoes to contacts.

10 things you maybe didn't realize you could recycle
10 things you maybe didn't realize you could recycle.

Compact fluorescent light bulbs

Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs (CFLs) cannot go in normal recycling and shouldn’t be tossed in the trash because they contain mercury. The EPA has put together a list of places you can take them to be recycled, and big-box retailers are stepping up to the plate, too. Home Depot will take your CFLs for recycling.

Holiday lights

We’re approaching the holiday season with some good news when it comes to your lights. The next time you plug in a strand to discover it no longer works, you don’t have to toss it in the trash. Christmas Light Source will recycle your broken lights. The best news? All recycling proceeds go to Toys for Tots.


The next time you’re cleaning out your closet, think about recycling your old duds. Look for one of Planet Aid’s yellow bins— it looks similar to the other donation bins popping up all over the place. Plus, you can check their website for your nearest bin location before leaving the house.

Grocery bags

Your plastic grocery bags may look like they can go in the recycling bin, but they actually can’t. When they go with the other plastic recycling, they can be difficult to sort out and even clog the machines. Instead, you can find a drop off location for your plastic grocery bags with the Plastic Film Recycling organization. A lot of grocery stores will take them, too.

Skin care containers

The thick plastic of your shampoo and conditioner containers can’t be recycled by your regular city recycling program (it’s a bummer). The good news is that a company called TerraCycle will take them and help turn them into new, cool things like playgrounds. The best part? It’s all at no cost to you. All you have to do is collect your personal care and beauty products in a box. Then, when the box is full, you print a shipping label on TerraCycle’s website (free to you!), and send it off to be recycled.


This one is thanks to TerraCycle again. Create a box in your bathroom for your used contacts because TerraCycle will recycle them.

Solo cups

Solo cups look like you should be able to toss them in the normal recycling, but these go-to party cups are harder to recycle than you might think. Once again, TerraCycle is here to save the recycling day. So the next time you have a massive party… or backyard barbecue, you can collect the leftover solo cups and have them recycled.


Once your favorite electronics finally break down (or get passed over for a new model), you can take them to be recycled. The EPA has an expansive list of recycling facilities by state, so you can find one near you. If you’d prefer a drop off location probably located in a strip mall near you, Best Buy also collects electronics for recycling.


The time has come to admit that you don’t ever play the CDs in your expansive collection anymore. You can drop off CDs with other e-waste. You can also send them into specialty organizations like the CD Recycling Center of America. Hoping to get a little cash for them? Decluttr offers users the opportunity to send in their CDs, DVDs, games, books, and used tech and earn some money.

Running shoes

A good pair of running shoes can make all the difference in your workout, but what do you do once they start to break down? Instead of tossing those sneakers into the landfill, organizations like the MORE Foundation and Running Wild will take your worn out running shoes and recycle them.

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