We all know that we should recycle, unfortunately knowing where or how to recycle it isn’t always so intuitive. To help you determine what can be recycled, we built a recycling resource with information about how to dispose of the items we use most often. We asked our friends and neighbors to find out which items they have the most trouble recycling and then searched for environmentally friendly solutions. The result is this compendium of recycling instructions for more than 200 items from your home and garden.

Please note, though, while these recommendations are best practices for most areas, they may not apply in your city. For any gray areas, check with local recycling centers to make sure you are following your region’s localized recycling guidelines.

To navigate the guide, use CTRL+F on your keyboard to search for a specific word.

35Mm Film and Slides
Art students may be interested in upcycling slides into art projects. Many recycling centers accept 35mm film; check with your city for drop-off procedures. There may be specific scheduled dates for photographic film drop off. Recycle film containers as you would milk jugs.
3D Glasses
Check for a recycling bin outside the theater, and deposit your 3D glasses after the show. The market leader, RealD, sets ups containers outside of movie theaters to collect used glasses. Theaters such as IMAX sterilize and reuse the glasses. To sterilize and reuse glasses at home, any kind of dishwasher and ammonia-free detergent will work. Just keep the temperature below 140 degrees.
5-Gallon Water Jugs
Many reputable water delivery companies take back empty water cooler jugs to sanitize and reuse them. You can also call your curbside recycling or waste disposal service to inquire if it accepts Number 7 plastics or large five-gallon water bottles.
55-Gallon Drums
If the drum contained hazardous chemicals, it should not be reused for anything else. Contact your local hazardous waste agency for disposal instructions. If the drum housed food or nonhazardous chemicals, then the drum can be thoroughly cleaned and prepped for reuse. Used 55-gallon barrels make great rain or compost barrels! Many plastics recycling centers will accept clean, nonhazardous drums for recycling.
Aerosol Cans (Hairspray, Paint, Etc)
If the product is empty, you can recycle it along with other steel or aluminum items. Lids are usually made of plastic and should be separated prior to recycling. However, do not remove the spray nozzle, as cans are pressurized and can pose a danger if punctured. If there are leftovers in an aerosol can, consider either using the product up, giving it to someone else who could use it, or bringing it to your Household Hazardous Waste Collection Site.
Aluminum/Aluminum Cans
Most communities offer curbside recycling pickup, or have recycling centers that accept aluminum cans or old aluminum siding. Recycling aluminum can also be profitable. A number of scrap metal companies are willing to pay good money for aluminum.
Check with your local auto parts store, most accept old antifreeze. Some communities have recycling programs for antifreeze. Another option is to take the antifreeze to a household hazardous waste facility in your area. You can contact your local solid waste department for the best way to dispose of the used product.
Antiperspirant and Deodorant Sticks
Through Tom’s of Maine Natural Care Brigade, you can fill a box with any brand of deodorant tubes, soap containers and other bathroom leftovers and mail it back to Terracycle for recycling. Some deodorant tubes may also be accepted through municipal curbside or drop-off programs in your area. To determine the materials from which your tubes are made, start by checking the bottom of the tube for the numbered plastic. Before recycling in your curbside bin, remove the dial from the bottom of the tube and be sure to rinse out your tubes with warm water and soap to remove any residual product.
If the appliances are still in working order, you can sell them. If they no longer work and you wish to recycle them, contact the Appliance Recycling Centers of America at 1-800-599-5792. Best Buy accepts most electronics and large appliances, with a few exceptions, and will take them at no charge. Some gas and electric companies offer a rebate program, so be sure to check with yours. The EPA’s Energy Star Program provides a list of special offers and rebates for recycling large appliances when you purchase new Energy Star models.

Contact youth programs in your area; backpacks might be useful for outings or trips. You could also donate them to a local church. If they run a thrift store or flea market, backpacks could sell well. The American Birding Association also accepts donated backpacks. Check them out at americanbirding.org.
Find battery-recycling locations near you with the Call2Recyle program, and drop them off on the way to work, school or the grocery store.
Batteries – 12-Volt
When you purchase a new vehicle battery, the business that sold it usually takes back the old battery for recycling. AAA has a program called the Great Battery Roundup every year where you can drop off old 12-volt batteries for recycling at any branch office.
Batteries – 9-Volt
These can be recycled through battery retailers like Batteries Plus. Other stores also have a return-to-vendor box for batteries. Check with your local municipality as many have community environment days for battery drop off/pickup. While transporting batteries greater than 9-volts to a recycling center, always tape the ends so they don’t cause a fire.
Batteries – Alkaline
If you talk to your local solid waste department, you may be instructed to put alkaline batteries in with your regular trash. If you’re unable to find a local recycling option, you can consider mail-in recycling programs. They are also accepted for recycling at all Batteries Plus locations.
Batteries – Carbon-Zinc
These batteries can safely be disposed with your regular trash. You can also take alkaline and carbon zinc batteries to a household hazardous waste collection site if one has been established in your community.
Batteries – Hybrid Car
Lead-acid batteries power older electric vehicles. The latest models use lithium-ion batteries. Check to see which your vehicle uses, and recycle accordingly.
Batteries – Laptop
Many manufacturers have their own recycling and reuse programs, including Apple, Dell and Hewlett-Packard Co. You can ship your laptop batteries (or the laptop itself) directly to these manufacturers for recycling.
Batteries – Lead Acid
Most state laws require retailers that sell lead-acid batteries to collect used batteries for recycling. An automotive store or a local waste agency may accept these batteries for recycling.
Batteries – Lithium Ion
A number of nationwide companies take old lithium-ion batteries for recycling, including Verizon Wireless, Office Depot, Home Depot and Best Buy.
Batteries – NiCad
Check out the Call2Recycle program, run by a nonprofit called the Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corporation, for regional recycling centers that accepts batteries. These centers often accept nickel-cadmium batteries (NiCad batteries). The EPA also maintains a set of resources on how to dispose of batteries and other home electronics gear. Visit their website at www.epa.gov.
Batteries – Rechargeable
Many stores, like RadioShack and Office Depot, accept rechargeable batteries.
Beach Balls
If the beach ball is still usable, consider donating it to a local thrift store or children’s hospital, where others can enjoy it. If repairable, repair and reuse!  If not repairable or reusable, check your local recycling programs to see if the type of plastic used to make the beach ball is recyclable in your area. Putting the wrong plastics into a recycle collection is damaging to recycling facilities.
These can be recycled in the paper bin. For hardback books, remove the cover first. Alternatively, you can donate them to Booksforsoldiers.com or www.recycleyourtextbooks.com.
Bottle Caps – Metal
Check with your local recycling facility. They may ask you to recycle metal bottle caps in an aluminum can and crimp the top of the can, so that the bottle caps are trapped. This way they do not get caught up in the conveyer belt.
Bottle Caps – Plastic
Plastic caps can usually be recycled as long as they are attached to their original plastic container, but check with your local provider for specific directions. The www.capsncups.com website is a useful tool for information on how to recycle plastic caps and #5 plastic cups.
Bubble Wrap®
Save your old Bubble Wrap® with other packing materials, and use it to send your next care package or fragile item. You can also bring it to businesses like The UPS Store, Mail Boxes Etc., or FedEx Office for recycling. Call ahead for specific instructions.
Buckets – 5-Gallon Plastic Buckets
Consider reusing plastic buckets rather than shredding and recycling them. You can donate unwanted plastic buckets to youth organizations like the Boy Scouts. If you do not have curbside recycling, check Earth911.com’s database for recycling locations.
Buckets – Metal
Thoroughly clean out the substance originally stored in the pails. Then deliver the dry pails to a recycling center that accepts metal. Some recycling centers accept only certain types of metal, so be sure to call ahead first.
Butane Cans
Most city and municipal recycling centers accept old butane canisters. However, all remaining pressure has to be released first. Vent the remaining gas and punch a whole through the sidewall using a screwdriver or other sharp object. Then you can safely put it into a recycling container.

Before you give it up for recycling, consider selling it, donating it or trading it in. Some towns sponsor e-waste collection days for small electronics like cameras. The Electronics Industrial Alliance informs consumers about recycling electronics at their eCycling Central website. Check their listings by state at www.ecyclingcentral.com.
Make a new candle by reusing the wax from your old candle scraps. All you need is a saucepan, a mold and natural cotton string. Melt some of the wax in your saucepan. Fill the mold with the remaining chunks and add molten wax.
Car Seats
If your car seat has never been in an accident and is less than six years old, consider passing it on to someone else. Some areas have car seat recycling drop-off centers. If not, you can take the seat apart and sort it yourself, but first make sure your local recycling facility accepts the disassembled parts.
Check with your carpet manufacturer; they may let you ship back used carpets and samples. You can also find a Carpet America Recovery Effort certified collector by visiting carpetrecovery.org.
The Automotive Recycler’s Association has up-to-date information on car recycling standards and guidelines. You can also donate your vehicle to a nonprofit organization like Habitat for Humanity, where they can be used to fund worthwhile programs.
Cassette Tapes, 8-Track Tapes and VHS Tapes
Local libraries, bookstores or thrift stores may accept them. The plastic case of the video or cassette can be recycled, but the magnetic tape needs to be removed first. Gardeners can repurpose the magnetic tape as twine for their plants and flowers. You can also mail your old media to Alternative Community Training, which provides services to individuals with disabilities. Find out more at actservices.org.
CDs, DVDs and Jewel Cases
Target and Best Buy make it easy to recycle optical discs, DVDs and jewel cases by providing collection bins. You can also search listings through the CD Recycling Center of America to find a recycling center in your neighborhood.
Cell Phones
Many cellphone companies offer trade-ins, or you can donate your no-longer-used phone to HopeLine, a Verizon program that benefits survivors of domestic violence. The Call to Protect program, which supports environmental programs and initiatives, also accepts old mobile phones.
Christmas Tree
Christmas trees are biodegradable, so they can be recycled like yard waste. Some Boy Scout troops offer a pickup service for a small donation, and Home Depot collects Christmas trees in many areas with no charge.
Nike, H&M and Patagonia all offer programs to accept returns of their used products for recycling or reuse. Charities like Goodwill accept worn clothing, including those that you think may be too damaged to donate.
Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs
The Home Depot offers free CFL recycling in all their stores. Some bulb manufacturers and other organizations sell pre-labeled recycling kits that allow you to mail used bulbs to recycling centers.
Many manufacturers, including Apple, have take-back and recycling options. Through Dell Reconnect, you can donate your Dell to a participating Goodwill, where they will refurbish and resell or recycle your computer. FreeGeek.com is a nonprofit that accepts almost all technology with an emphasis on reuse.
Concrete can be repurposed to create paving stones or small garden walls, so sustainably minded landscapers and homeowners may be willing to take old concrete off your hands. Also, check with local businesses that sell topsoil, gravel and other similar materials. They often accept old concrete, but may charge a small fee.
Cooking Oil
Visit www.vegoilrecycle.com to find a location near you that will recycle your vegetable oil for use in the renewable energy industry.
Cookware – Pots and Pans
You can often find your cookware a new home through Craigslist, or secondhand stores like Goodwill and Salvation Army. When you purchase any Calphalon Unison nonstick cookware, they will recycle your old cookware. Any brand or condition is acceptable, and the company pays for shipping.
The Crayon Recycle Program accepts unwanted, rejected, broken crayons and recycles them into fresh, new crayons! The program has drop-off bins nationally.
Crocs, Inc. and Soles4Souls have developed a program, which provides the opportunity to recycle your lightly worn Crocs shoes, and gives them a “second life.” Visit crocscares.com to find a drop-off location.

Call your electric company to see whether it offers rebates for recycled dehumidifiers and window units. Some retailers offer appliance disposal services when you purchase a new model. Contact your local department of public works and ask about safe disposal practices in your area, which may require a visit to a hazardous waste disposal facility.
Mail in your used denim to the Blue Jeans Go Green recycling program, where they will recycle it into denim insulation for civic buildings and new homes in communities that need it most.
See Appliances.
Contact your local solid waste district to see if it offers a bulky collection service and whether it will take construction materials. Your local Habitat for Humanity ReStore may be able to accept used drywall.
Egg Shells
Check to see if you have a food waste collection scheme in your area. Eggshells can also be included in your home composting bin. If you have a garden, crush and put them directly in the soil for added nutrients!
Electronic Waste
Best Buy and other retailers have trade-in options, where you can get rid of your old equipment in exchange for gift cards. Visit the EPA website for information on local electronic recycling options.
Empty Cleaning Products
Since many cleaning product bottles are made of plastic #1 or #2, they can be recycled with similar plastics. The remnants of most household cleaners can safely be poured down the drain.
Engine Coolant
Check with your city, they may hold an annual or semiannual household waste-recycling event. A number of service stations and auto parts stores also accept waste fluids for recycling.
Engine Oil
Retailers such as AutoZone and O’Reilly Auto Parts will accept used oil and oil filters. You can also call Environmental Services at 858-694-7000 to find other private businesses that will recycle it properly.
Envelopes – Goldenrod
Due to hard-to-remove “beater dye,” goldenrod office envelopes are not recyclable. If possible, use white, light-colored or recycled envelopes instead.
Envelopes – Padded
If the envelope and the padding are made of the same material, place it in the proper recyclable bin. This includes paper envelopes made with paper cushioning, or plastic envelopes made with plastic Bubble Wrap® cushioning.
Envelopes – Tyvek®
DuPont manages a nationwide recycling program that collects used and printed Tyvek® envelopes for recycling into park benches and playground equipment. Visit their website for details.
Envelopes With Plastic Windows
These can be recycled like regular paper. Since the plastic windows are filtered out during the recycling process, it is not necessary to tear them out first.
Metal frames can be recycled with other scrap metal, but first consider donating them to someone in need. Both plastic and metal-framed glasses can be taken to LensCrafters or Target Optical, who will send them to onesight.org. Alternatively, you can send them to neweyesfortheneedy.com, an organization that also accepts sunglasses in good condition.

Fabric and Textile
Many animal and homeless shelters accept machine-washable blankets and pillows. Donate Stuff allows you to donate fabric and textiles by mail. They make it easy by providing pre-paid UPS bags and even home pickup in certain areas.
File Folders
Once you separate the metal hangers from the paper, both components can be recycled.
Film Canisters
Check with your local recycling center to find out which plastics they accept. The gray lids are made of plastic #4 and black bases are #2. You can also check with photo labs in your neighborhood; many accept empty film canisters.
Fire Extinguishers
Contact your local fire department to find out if your empty extinguisher can be refilled or exchanged for one that is ready for use.
Floppy Disk, Zip Disks and 3.5″ Disks
Floppy disks and zip disks can be recycled by sending them to floppydisc.com. Media mail is your best option, but if you send more than 200 disks, they will reimburse the shipping costs.
Fluorescent Bulbs
Bring them to any Home Depot or IKEA, or purchase mail-back containers from recycleabulb.com to recycle from home.
Food Processors
If the food processor is still functioning, your best option is to donate it to Goodwill. Otherwise, check with your city to see if they offer special collection days for broken machines and appliances.
Food Waste
Composting food waste at home is a great way of keeping it out of the garbage, and the compost makes a good fertilizer for gardens. If the food is safe to eat and has not expired, take it to a food bank or food rescue organization. You can also check with your city to find out if there is a local food waste recycling collection service.
Formal Wear
Visit operationfairydust.org or catherinescloset.org to donate your formal wear, and provide a prom dress for a girl who cannot afford to buy one.
Contact your city’s recycling program, and ask how they handle Freon® recycling. You may be able to leave your window air conditioner or refrigerator at the curb for them to pickup and dispose of.
You may want to consider upcycling large furniture items to give them new life. Many charity organizations like Salvation Army will take old furniture off your hands; some will even pick it up. Some cities offer curbside recycling for furniture, so check to see if that is an option.

Gaming Consoles
Visit the e-Stewards website to find a recycler.
Garden Hose
The ends can be snipped off and recycled in some cities; call your local recycling center to find out. You can also reuse them in a variety of ways. One way is to protect outside electric cords.
Your local auto store or hardware store may have a recycling program for gasoline, fuel and oil. Otherwise, contact your local government waste agency and to speak with someone about where to drop off used gasoline.
Gift Cards
Mail in PVC plastic gift cards, including identification and credit cards, to Earthworks System for recycling. Gift cards from companies like Chipotle, LL Bean and Wal-Mart are biodegradable corn-based cards that will naturally decompose in a compost pile.
Bottle glass is one of the easiest items to recycle; simply place in your curbside collections bin.
Glass – Bottles
Rinse and dry bottles, remove the lids, and take them to a local bottle collection center or leave them curbside. Metal tops can usually be recycled, too.
Glass – Windows
Window glass and bottle glass have different melting temperatures, so they need to be recycled separately. You can also search the Building Materials Reuse Association online list and donate them to a building material reuse company.
Glue Containers
All bottles that are marked with a #1 or #2 recycling symbol are recyclable with similar plastics. You can also send them to TerraCycle through the Elmer’s Glue Crew Brigade program for glue sticks, bottles and caps.
Golf Balls
Bring golf balls to any Dixon Golf retail location or mail them in for recycling. If you want to make a profit, local driving ranges sometimes purchase used balls, or you can sell them in bulk at OnlyGolfBalls.com.
Grass Clippings
Collected clippings can be used as mulch or added to your compost pile. You may want to consider using a mulching lawn mower, which reduces the size of clippings and spreads them back on the grass as a soil conditioner.
Greeting Cards
St. Jude’s Ranch for Children recycles your used greeting cards and creates new holiday and all-occasion greeting cards.
Grey Water
The easiest way to recycle greywater is to collect water in a dishpan as you hand wash dishes, and then use it to water your flowers, plants and trees. A landscape-direct system diverts greywater from the drain hose of your washing machine and sends it out to your plants through 1-inch tubing. This type of system does not even require you to alter existing plumbing.

Hangers – Plastic
These are best donated; thrift stores are usually happy to receive extra hangers.
Hangers – Wire
These can be recycled as scrap metal, or returned to your dry cleaner. Hanger manufacturers can reform even bent hangers.
Hard Drives
Best Buy and Staples accepts hard drives and items containing hard drives for recycling. You can also donate it to the Data Rescue Center.
HDPE Plastic
Most supermarkets and grocery stores have recycling bins assigned to collect plastic bags. Your curbside recycling programs may also accept HDPE plastic bags. Be sure to weigh them down so they don’t blow away before collection.
Hearing Aids
The Starkey Hearing Foundation recycles any make or model of hearing aids. Lions Clubs also accept hearing aids for reuse. Visit their website for mailing labels, or to find a collection center.
Holiday Cards
St. Jude’s Ranch for Children recycles your used greeting cards and creates new holiday and all-occasion greeting cards.
Holiday Lights
HolidayLEDS.com will take old Christmas lights for recycling, and will even send a coupon good for 15 percent off a future purchase. Home Depot also offers a recycling program for Christmas lighting.
Household Hazardous Waste
Find out if your community has a year-round collection system for household hazardous waste, or designated days throughout the year.

Jam Jars
Jam jars, sans their metal lids, can be rinsed and recycled with bottle glass.
Jar Lids
Recycle metal lids with other metals.
Remove the lid and recycle with other glass containers.
Gold, silver and platinum can be recycled for cash. Antique stores or consignment jewelry stores may be interested in your gemstones. You can donate jewelry to www.new-eyes.org, which helps to support their U.S. eyeglass voucher program. Thrift stores accept even low-value and costume jewelry, which often sells well.
Juice Boxes
Check the Carton Council Web page to see if your local recycling program will collect juice boxes. Juice bags, like Capri Suns, cannot be recycled through cities, but Terracycle can turn them into purses.
Try a junk-hauling service, like 1800gotjunk.com that recycles many items.
Junk Mail
Junk mail can be recycled with other paper, but your best bet is to cut down on how much you receive. Register at DMAchoice.org to remove your name from catalogs, magazines and other mail offers. You can also use the PaperKarma app to snap a picture of a piece of junk mail and become unsubscribed from the mailing list that generated it.

If you’re in the military or law enforcement, you can send your Kevlar to Brent Industries. Civilians can contact Harmony Recycling online to recycle Kevlar.
Functioning keyboards can be sold on Craigslist. If you would prefer to donate, see if there is a World Computer Exchange near you. It will be delivered to a developing country in need of technology. Locally, you can donate your equipment to Goodwill, where it will be refurbished or recycled.
Keys can be recycled at most local recycling centers or sold as scrap metal.
Kitchen Cabinets
Nonprofit organizations and churches can often put used cabinets to good use. Habitat for Humanity might also have local projects in need of cabinets. If you are having new cabinets installed, ask your contractor if he is interested in taking your old ones to resell.
Kitchen Utensils
Since kitchen utensils are commonly made of steel, an iron-chromium alloy, they can be recycled as scrap metal.
Goodwill, thrift stores, or nonprofit organizations are good options for donating used knives. Otherwise, the metal can be recycled as scrap steel.

Leather Accessories
Leather clothes, bags or shoes in gently used condition can be donated. You can donate used leather shoes to www.soles4souls.org. If you are crafty, the material can be reused in a variety of ways around the home.
You might be able to sell your Legos to a collector on eBay. Since plastic #7 can be difficult to recycle, consider donating them to a local school, child care center or nonprofit organization.
License Plates
In most states, you surrender your license plate when you receive new plates. If your state does not require the old plates to be turned in, aluminum license plates can be added to your curbside bin or recycled with scrap metal.
Light Bulbs
Most cities do not accept traditional incandescent light bulbs and should be thrown away. Try switching to low energy light bulbs, which are collected at stores like Home Depot.
You can mix the ends of your lipsticks together for a fresh new color. A handful of smart, savvy makeup manufacturers have take-back programs that recycle containers for you, and even offer deals in return. Also, see Makeup.
Lotion Bottles
Check the plastic number to be sure, but most bottles can easily be recycled in your curbside pickup bin.

Since magazines are made of paper, they are 100 percent recyclable and are accepted by most recycling centers and pickup programs.
Some manufacturers offer sweet deals as incentives to recycle. For instance, MAC wearers receive a free lipstick from the company in return for six empty containers. Origins stores and department store counters will recycle containers from any brand of used cosmetics for you. So will Aveda and Kiehl’s, among others.
Manila Folders
These used folders can be recycled with paper (if there are metal parts, be sure to remove them first). You can also relabel or turn it inside out to reuse it.
Not all cities accept mattresses for recycling, so check the regulations in your area. The Salvation Army and St. Vincent de Paul accept and either re-sell or recycle mattresses; you may even be able to schedule a pickup.
Check with your pharmacist. They can guide you on how to properly dispose of your unused medications, even over-the-counter kinds. Also, see Prescriptions.
Utilize a household hazardous waste facility or designated community pickup/drop-off days to properly dispose of and recycle mercury products.
Metals like aluminum cans can often be recycled through curbside collection programs. Other metals may need to be taken to a drop-off center for recycling or proper disposal.
See Appliances.
Milk Cartons
Some communities will take the cartons, while others may not. Find out if cartons are recyclable in your community through the Carton Council Web page. You can also upcycle them into birdhouses, storage boxes and other kid-friendly crafts.
Milk Jugs
Plastic milk jugs can be reused in the home and garden. They are made from HDPE, and can be recycled with curbside pickup, or at a collection center. Be sure to rinse first.
Check with your local recycling facility. They may be able to recycle mirrors, even if they are broken. Mirrors in usable condition can be donated to secondhand stores.
MP3 Players
An old iPod can fetch you 10 percent off a new one at any Apple store. Target also accepts MP3 players in their recycling collection bins.

Newspaper can be recycled with paper through curbside recycling programs.
Nike’s Reuse-a-Shoe program accepts old sneakers of any brand for recycling. Visit their website at nikereuseashoe.com to find a drop-off location near you.
The paper portion of most notebooks can be recycled with your regular mixed paper or office paper recycling. If you have used vegetable or soy-based inks to write on it, you can also compost the notebook. Call your local recycling facility to find out if the cardboard and paper can remain bound together, or if they need to be separated.
Notebooks – Spiralbound
Smaller non-paper items like staples and spiraling are sorted out by machinery during recycling, so you can recycle these with paper. If the cover is plastic, remove it first.
Nylon is a “thermoplastic” and can be recycled. No Nonsense offers a pantyhose and tights recycling program that accepts all brands. Follow the shipping instructions on their website.

Packing Peanuts
Styrofoam peanuts are not easily recycled, but stores like UPS and Mail Boxes Etc. accept them. Visit loosefillpackaging.com to find a center in your state.
You may be able to recycle dried Latex paint curbside, but oil-based paint is considered household hazardous waste. Check with your county to see if they have a Reuse Room where you can bring unused household items like paint. You can the also use the PaintCare.org site locator to search for a nearby drop-off site.
Paint Cans
Steel paint cans are recyclable, but not every community accepts them, so check with your local recycling or HHW center. The paint can must be empty and all paint contents dried prior to recycling.
Most paper products can be placed in a curbside recycling bin. Paper products should be clean and free of food waste, oil or dirt.
Paper Shopping Bags
Grocery stores often have drop-off bins for plastic bags. Paper bags can be recycled with other paper products.
Pens and Markers
Consider donating to organizations like Pencils for Kids, or ship to Terracycle through their Writing Instruments Brigade.
Phone Books
Check with your city, because some will take them. If not, the Yellow Pages website can tell you where to recycle them. To remove your name from lists to receive phone books, visit www.donttrashthephonebook.org.
Pizza Boxes
Rip out any areas soiled by food residue like cheese or grease and recycle the rest as corrugated cardboard.
Plastic – Generic
Contact your city’s recycling program to find out which plastics they recycle. Some municipalities accept all types of plastic for recycling, while others only take containers with certain numbers stamped on their bottoms.
Plastic #1
If your community recycling program accepts plastics, chances are they are the ones with the numbers 1 and 2 on the bottom. The easiest and most common plastics to recycle are made of polyethylene terephthalate (PETE) and are assigned the number 1.
Plastic #2
Number 2 is reserved for high-density polyethylene (HDPE) plastics, and is usually found in heavier containers such as milk jugs. Like plastic number 1, it is widely accepted at recycling centers.
Plastic #3
Plastics marked number 3 are made of Vinyl or PVC, and can be difficult to recycle. They are accepted by some plastic lumber makers and recycled into decks or paneling. Also, see Vinyl.
Plastic #4
Plastics marked number 4 are made of LDPE (low density polyethylene) and are found in squeezable bottles and plastic grocery bags. While LDPE is not often recycled through curbside programs, some cities do accept it. Plastic shopping bags can be returned to designated bins at many stores for recycling.
Plastic #5
Number 5 plastics are made of polypropylene, and can be recycled through some curbside programs. You can also recycle them through Preserve’s Gimme 5 program, which accepts all types of clean #5 plastics. Drop them off in the “Gimme 5” container available at select Whole Foods, or visit preserveproducts.com/recycling for instructions on how to mail them in.
Plastic #6 (Styrofoam)
Plastic number 6, or polystyrene, is often difficult to recycle. Some plastic #6 products, such as cups, CD and DVD cases, are easier. The EPS Industry Alliance offers a mail-in program for recycling; visit www.epspackaging.org for details.
Plastic #7
Made of mixed plastic, number 7 plastics have traditionally not been recycled, though some curbside programs now take them. Confirm with your municipality to find out whether they do.
Plastic Bags
Plastic shopping bags can be returned to many grocery stores for recycling.
Plastic Bottles
Plastic #1 and #2 are the most commonly used forms of plastic in bottled water containers. Check the marked number to determine whether or not they can be collected for recycling in your area.
Plastic Packing Pillows – “Fill Air”
Mail deflated packing pillows marked “Fill-Air” to Ameri-Pak at Sealed Air Recycle Center, 477 South Woods Drive, Fountain Inn SC 29644.
Plastic Toys
If your plastic toys are in good shape, consider finding the toy a new home. Organizations like Stuffed Animals For Emergencies collect toys for children in crisis situations. Domestic Metals and Plastics accepts plastic toys of all types for recycling.
Plastic Utensils
Clean, save and reuse. Disposable cutlery is recyclable if your curbside provider accepts plastic #6, so confirm with them. A local art teacher or art supply store may accept donations for creative projects.
Post-its can be recycled with paper. You don’t need to worry about the sticky side, it gets sorted out during the recycling process.
Prescription Drugs
Many communities have drug take-back programs for proper disposal of unused drugs. The Starfish Project collects certain unused medications and pays for FedEx shipping. Most pill bottles are made of #5 plastic, so these can be recycled, too.
Printer Cartridges – Ink and Toner
Some manufacturers include envelopes with pre-paid postage in their packaging to make sending back used cartridges easy. Office supply stores like Staples offer drop-off cartridge recycling, and even give you back a $2 deposit.
HP has various recycling options for used equipment, including free drop-off options. Staples will also accept old office technology, of any brand and any condition, for recycling.
Propane Tanks
Contact the local AmeriGas office nearest you to safely dispose of your 20 lb. propane tanks at no charge. You can also exchange or recycle through the Blue Rhino Company. Many stores, including Dixieline, Home Depot and Kmart, accept refillable propane cylinders.

Q-tips® cotton swabs are biodegradable when composted. The sleeve and tray pack is also recyclable once the window is removed.
While glass quartz is not the same as other glass products, it is recyclable. Contact your local recycling center to see if they accept glass quartz.
Most shelters for both humans and animals will take them, especially if they’re machine washable.
Donate Stuff accepts fabric by mail. The material can be in any condition, since it can be broken down into fibers and reused. Also, see T-shirts.
See Appliances.
Roof Shingles
Find a recycler at shinglerecycling.org. You can also use their website to learn about current specifications for each state.
Contact a business that manufactures rubber mulch, like Rubber Recycle, to find out where you can recycle rubber products, since most cities do not pick up rubber left with curbside recycling.
Rubber Bands
Donate Rubber Bands to a Local School, whose teachers are sure to appreciate them. Store them in the refrigerator to keep them in a like-new state.
Rubber Tires
Add a listing to Recycler’s World to trade or exchange used tires. You may be able to return surplus tires to either a tire retailer or a local recycling facility that accepts tires.
Rugs (Wool Or Cotton)
Wool or cotton rugs can be recycled in your garden by using them for mulch. Or visit CARE for an up-to-date map and listing on where you can recycle your rug.

Giveshoes.org accepts donations of lightly worn shoes in all sizes. Dress shoes can be donated to the Cinderella Project, a nonprofit that provides prom gowns and accessories to girls in need.
Shoes – Keen
Contact the company at info@keenfootwear.com or (866) 676-KEEN.
Shoes – Running Shoes and Sneakers
Donate them to needy athletes around the world through oneworldrunning.com. Also, see Nikes.
Shoes – Toms
For every pair of TOMS shoes that you purchase, a pair will be donated to a person in need. When you’re ready to recycle, contact the company at (800) 975-8667 or donate to GreenSneakers.org.
Shower Curtains
Because they are made of PVC, they are not usually able to be recycled, but they can be repurposed. Old shower curtains make great paint drop cloths or tarp coverings over firewood.
Shredded Paper
Shredded paper has less fiber value, so be sure to check with your local recycling service to see if they will accept it. If you have used non-toxic inks, you can put it in your compost pile. Shredded paper also makes great packing material!
Six-Pack Rings
Six-pack rings can be recycled in programs that accept plastic #4 (low-density polyethylene resin). You might also consider getting a group collection together and participating in the Hi-Cone Ring Leader Recycling Program.
Many cellphone providers and Amazon offer trade-in services. You can also repurpose it as an external hard drive, donate it to Cell Phones for Soldiers, or send it to the CTIA for refurbishing.
Smoke Detectors
Some states conduct an annual round up of ionization smoke alarms. Several manufacturers accept used smoke alarms. Contact individual suppliers for information. Curie Environmental Services offers smoke alarm recycling.
Reuse slivers of soap in creative ways such as making liquid soap, or donate your pieces to Clean The World, a nonprofit organization that combats preventable disease in developing countries
Soap Dispensers
Many bathroom bottles, including soap dispensers, are marked with resin code 2 or 4, which makes them easily recyclable. Check the number on the dispenser to be sure.
Use your mismatched socks as a dust rag, drink cozy or dog toy. Send your worn-out socks to Emi-G Knitting, Attention: Zkano Recycles Program at 1715 Airport Road, Ft Payne, AL 35968 to have them recycled.
Synthetic sponges are not recyclable, but can be repurposed. Try placing them at the bottom of a potted plant to make a homemade self-watering pot. Sea sponges and natural sponges are biodegradable and can be composted. Natural sponges also last a lot longer!
Sports Gear and Equipment
Trade used sporting goods in at Play It Again Sports or make a difference by donating it to an organization like Sportsgift.org or Iloveschools.com. Skis can be recycled through skichair.com, which manufacturers recycled sports furniture.
Sell it as scrap metal, or visit the Steel Recycling Institute for recycling resources.
See Appliances.
Styrofoam is notoriously hard to recycle, but some cities do accept it. If you are not able to recycle through your city, visit epspackaging.org to find a recycling drop-off location, or mail them in according to the instructions on the site.

There are many ways to restyle your old t-shirts for continued use. T-shirts that are made of 100 percent natural cotton are biodegradable and can be put in your compost pile. The company Unifi has a textile take-back program, which they use to create their recycled Repreve® fiber. Contact them for more details.
Tablets, Kindles and iPads
Companies like Verizon, Target and Best Buy offer trade-in and recycling opportunities for gift cards. You can also donate it to HopeLine from Verizon, and help support victims and survivors of domestic violence.
Takeout Containers
If they are not soiled with grease, takeout containers in boxes (like Chinese food) can be recycled with cardboard. Soiled cardboard can be composted. For plastic containers, check with your city to see what they accept.
Tech Gadgets
Visit www.greenergadgets.org to search certified eCycling locations in your area. You can also donate your tech gadgets to recycleforbreastcancer.org, where it will benefit breast cancer charities.
Tetra Pak
Visit recyclecartons.com to check if your community can recycle aseptic cartons. At the very least, you can remove the plastic top and throw it in with your plastic recycling.
See Books.
Three-Ring Binders
Poly binders can be recycled once they are disassembled. Pop out the metal spine and separate the plastic from the cardboard inside, and recycle each component individually. The American Thermoplastic Company offers a recycling program for vinyl binders in good condition.
Tin Cans
If you have a curbside recycling program, tin and steel cans are usually accepted.
Tinfoil (Aluminum)
Aluminum foil can most often be placed in the recycling bin with aluminum cans.
Used tires can be taken to a local recycling facility or tire retailer.
Terracycle accepts Colgate toothbrushes and toothpaste tubes through their mail-back Oral Care Brigade. You can also get ahead of the game by using a Recycline Preserve toothbrush, which is made of recycled Stonyfield Yogurt cups. When you are ready to replace it, these toothbrushes can be recycled with #5 plastics, or sent back to Recycline.
Toothpaste Tubes
Aluminum toothpaste tubes can be recycled. Plastic tubes can be mailed to Terracycle through the Colgate Oral Care Brigade.
Separate your recycling from your garbage before collection. However, before throwing items out, consider whether or not your trash might be someone else’s treasure.
Total Awards & Promotions offers a mail-in trophy recycling program that benefits nonprofits. Gently used trophies can be shipped to Total Awards & Promotions, 6686 Odana Road Madison, WI 53719. You can also call your local recycling facility to see what can be recycled in your area.
If you’re having a new set delivered, haul-away of the old one is often free. Best Buy will remove and recycle a set when it delivers a new one. You can also bring old ones to Office Depot to be recycled. Sony televisions can be taken to a drop-off center listed at sony.com/recycle. Some towns sponsor collection days for TVs and other electronics. To find out if one is scheduled in your area, visit www.ecyclingcentral.com.

Once you remove the fabric and handle from a metal umbrella, the skeleton can be recycled with scrap metal. Plastic umbrellas are not recyclable, but can be donated if they are still in good condition.
Used Plastic Wrap
Unfortunately, used Saran Wrap and other plastic wrap are not recyclable.
Many manufacturers, retailers and recyclers offer programs for free electronics recycling via local drop-off or mail-in.
VHS Video Tapes
You can mail your VHS tapes to Alternative Community Training, which provides services to individuals with disabilities. Visit their website at actservices.org for shipping details.
Vinyl containers or rigid blister packaging can be identified by the “3” symbol. To find a vinyl recycling company near you, search the directory at vinylinfo.org.
Vinyl Banners
Ship them to Gorilla Sacks, which will repurpose retired signs or banners made from vinyl.
Vinyl Records
If they’re in good condition, you may be able to sell albums through companies like Hard to Find Records or your local music store. The cardboard sleeve can go in the recycling bin with paper items.
Vinyl Siding
You may want to inquire at your local landfill or dump area for vinyl recycling facilities. You can also search the database of recycling facilities on the Vinyl Institute website.

Water Bottles
Check with your city’s curbside or drop off recycling program to see which plastics they accept.
Water Filters
You can mail Brita filters (as well as pitchers and bottles) to TerraCycle. TerraFlo also has a recycling program in place. If your filter is made of #5 plastic, you can open the filter, remove the sandy charcoal, and recycle the cartridge at Whole Foods.
Visit lifenets.org/wheelchair to donate wheelchairs to others in need.
Wine Bottles
Rinse each bottle well before putting it in the recycling bin for glass. If you are taking it to a local recycling center, you may want to separate the colored glass out, since it fetches a higher price.
Wine Corks
By supporting ReCORK’s recycling program, you will be giving new life to perfectly good natural cork. Visit recork.org to find a drop-off location or recycling partner.
Copper is the most recycled wire material. Uncovered wiring can often be placed with your curbside recycling. You can take it to electronic stores like Office Depot or Staples, or donate both plastic-coated and bare wiring to the Boy Scouts.
There are more than 500 wood-recycling centers across the country. If there is not a location near you, call your local materials reuse outlet or Habitat for Humanity ReStore.

B.W. Recycling, Inc. is a nationwide X-ray recycling company that includes a free pickup and cash back for your X-ray films. If you have a small quantity of x-rays, try a community group like the Boy Scouts.
Xbox 360
Find Microsoft-sponsored recycling opportunities near you or receive a mailing label to send in your Xbox hardware for recycling at microsoft.com. Also, see Gaming Consoles.
Yard Waste
Some municipalities have curbside pickup for yard waste. Contact your city for collection and packaging directions. If possible, leave yard trimmings where they fall or pile them in a compost heap. They will decompose naturally.
Yarn can be carefully unraveled from a knitted sweater, and reused for any yarn project. It can be sold on eBay, or given to any knitting aficionado. Libraries often host knitting clubs, so they may be a good place to check.
Yoga Mats
RecycleYourMat.com accepts yoga mats for recycling.
Yogurt Cups
Since yogurt cups are not always recyclable, check with your city to see if they are accepted.
Contact your local scrap metal recycling service, or add your buy or sell inquiries into the Scrap Zinc Recycling Exchange on recycle.net.
Ziploc Bags
As long as they are clean and dry, used Ziploc® bags can go in the same bins as plastic shopping bags at your local grocery store. To learn more about recycling plastic bags, visit www.plasticfilmrecycling.org.
Donate your used zippers to a craft group. Places that recycle metal may be willing to take zippers if you cut off the fabric before you drop them off.

It’s Easy Being Green

Living green isn’t hard when you have the proper resources. Keep this page handy and you’ll be surprised at how much you can recycle.

Do you have any tips for hard-to-recycle items? Share your ideas in the comments below.