Everyday Items People Forget to Recycle
Nobody wants to forget to recycle discarded items, but sometimes we do it accidentally. It can be hard to tell what’s recyclable or where to take the items.
There are many everyday items that people forget they can actually recycle. These items are found all over your home. Use this list as a reminder of what can be recycled.
What Can I Put in My Recycling?
Step one is figuring out what items you can put out in your curbside recycling. Most places accept cardboard, aluminum, Styrofoam, glass, and plastics. Many plastic items have numbers stamped on the bottom, but the general easy rule of thumb is to remember that all rigid plastic items can be recycled. Plastic utensils are an exception because they’re too small to go through the recycling equipment.
If you have a compostable cup or other plant-based items, put it into the trash, a compost pile, or green trash. Be sure to throw a plastic lid into the recycling, though.
Of course, it’s easy to remember to recycle larger batteries, such as car batteries, but you can also recycle small batteries. Though some places encourage you to throw them out with your trash, in fact, every type of battery can be recycled. You can look for a mail-in recycling program or wait for your city or local recycling center to host a recycling day.
Watch batteries and other button-type batteries are made with silver oxide. These should always be recycled because they contain mercury as well. The recycler will remove the silver oxide and other metals to reuse them.
People normally only think about recycling things while they’re in the kitchen, but you should think about it in other areas of the house, too. Many bathroom items can be recycled, from toilet paper rolls to shampoo bottles.
Many plastic toys can actually be recycled. If the entire toy is made from the same kind of plastic, it’s recyclable. Those old beach buckets and plastic trucks your kids don’t play with anymore can go into your recycling bin. A plastic baby doll with hair, however, is not recyclable because the hair isn’t.
Most of us remember to recycle cans, but you can also recycle the aluminum foil that comes on a variety of frozen or to-go food containers. The foil you use at home can also be recycled.
But make sure you rinse off any food debris first.
Say you have a bottle of prescription pills you don’t take anymore. Your first instinct is probably to toss it in the trash, but you can recycle those pills. Many cities have a drug take-back day where they accept your prescription drugs. This ensures that the meds stay out of our eco-systems, which affects fish and other wildlife – and people. Recent studies have shown many types of pharmaceuticals showing up in our drinking water. Scientists believe this is because people just throw them out or flush them down the toilet.
Cooking Oil & Motor Oil
Cooking oil is another item most people just throw out. Instead, keep a container under the sink and put the (cooled) used oil into it. When it’s full, find a collection center or contact your local city government for proper disposal, where the used cooking oil will find a second life. Cooking oil can be made into biofuel or re-purposed into soaps and other products.
Motor oil should never be dumped down a drain because it will contaminate water. Motor oil in landfills will never fully break down, either. But depending on where you live, recycling motor oil can be easy or take some effort. In some places, recycling motor oil has limited availability, so you might not even be aware it’s possible.
For example, in Honolulu County in Hawaii, residents are told to throw away their used motor oil in a special oil change box or box with absorbent material. Then, put into in their regular trash where it will either be burned to create energy or thrown into a landfill.
If you live in a place that doesn’t have great access to oil recycling, do some local research to see who will take your oil. Ask a retail store that also does oil changes, like Costco or Wal-Mart, if they will accept your used motor oil and filter.
If you get a new prescription, you can recycle your old glasses. Many Costcos, local optometrists, and community service organizations like Kiwanis or Lions Club collect glasses to give to those who can’t afford their own. Sometimes the lenses are ground down to make a new prescription, too.
Greeting cards are nice to get, but what do you do with them after your birthday or holiday has passed? If they don’t have glitter or other items on it, you can toss them in the regular recycling. But you can also donate used greeting cards to St. Jude, where a teen will be taught how to upcycle the card into a brand-new item.
Remembering to recycle these items can go a long way to making our earth cleaner. If in doubt, it only takes a few seconds to look up whether something can be recycled or where to take it.
I didn’t know that motor oil that is put in landfills will never break down all the way. My dad likes to work in cars in his spare time, and he has been wondering what to do with all the motor oil that he has leftover and just sitting around in our garage. I’ll have to tell him to look into recycling it so that we can help the environment a little, and so he can free up some space in our garage too.