If you’ve ever thought “what can I recycle,” many people know the basics. Paper, plastic, metals, and glass are all obvious recyclables and the most common in many households. However, there are many uncommon things to recycle that you may not think about. If you’re looking to lower your carbon footprint and maintain a healthier planet, here’s a list of recyclable items.
1. Compact Fluorescent Bulbs
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Some of the most perplexing things you can recycle are fluorescent bulbs. Fluorescent tube lighting is generally regarded as waste, and there’s no way to save it for another use. However, compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs) are different. Many hardware stores have drop-off points that allow you to recycle CFLs, even though they contain mercury. In addition, they’re one of the most efficient bulbs on the market, providing a two-pronged attack to lower energy usage and reduce waste at the same time.
2. CDs, DVDs, and Gaming Discs
Other things that can be recycled are CDs, DVDs, and gaming discs. Rather than pitch the ones you don’t want, these items are recyclable, and many companies use the various components of the discs to make other products. Most of the plastic from these items becomes usable in the automotive and building materials industries. Gaming discs are also interesting things to recycle, and their components are normally used in the electronics industry.
If you still want the CD or DVD but it’s scratched, you can send it to a third-party vendor to repair the scratches, making the disc as good as new. It costs a few bucks to repair each one, but then again, it’s cheaper than buying new ones.
Before you destroy the evidence of your hidden love for Bette Midler, N’Sync, or “White Chicks,” remember that CDs and DVDs are just a few unusual things you can recycle.
3. Motor Oil
Although most people take their car to the shop for an oil change, many other thrifty people opt to change their own motor oil. However, you might not know that you can recycle this oil rather than throwing it in the trash. When it goes into the garbage, it can contaminate the water table, causing harm to humans, animals, and plants.
When you change your oil, let it fill an oil pan. When it’s all out, use a funnel to put it into a sealed container. From there, make sure to contact your city or town to see how to dispose of the oil properly. Most municipalities have specific ways to get rid of oil, and adhering to them keeps you out of trouble. In the meantime, you can use some storage space in your home to house the oil until you find what needs to be done.
Eyeglasses are yet another weird thing to recycle. Despite their small size, there are several components that are easily repurposed. Usually, people don’t think of recycling their eyeglasses because they have a specific prescription, but the lenses are easily ground to fit another person’s prescription. Plastic and metal frames as well as nose protectors are also used in repurposed pairs of glasses for underprivileged individuals. If you want to upgrade to a new style or pair, many optometrists offer eyeglasses recycling or can point you to an establishment or charity that takes used pairs.
5. Dental Toiletries
Toothbrushes are one of the most commonly used things in every household. Most people use a toothbrush at least two times a day, yet few know that it’s one of the weird things to recycle. Toothbrushes are almost always made of No. 5 plastic, and companies such as Preserve use old plastic food containers to manufacture new toothbrushes. You can even send your old toothbrushes directly to the company, and although you have to pay for shipping, they’ll give you a $6 voucher for future purchases on their website.
In addition to toothbrushes, dental floss containers and toothpaste tubes also fall under the category of what can be recycled. Electronic toothbrushes are also reusable, but they contain batteries that have hazardous materials. Because of the lithium in these batteries, you have to dispose of them at specific drop-off locations.
6. Foam Packaging
If you’ve shipped fragile options or moved items from your home to a self storage unit, foam packaging is an absolute necessity. It protects breakable items from destruction in transit and during the loading and unloading process. However, few people ever think they’re recyclable because it’s a relatively new technology. Packing peanuts, foam bricks, and other foam components are usually accepted at pack and ship places like UPS and FedEx locations. So, the next time you’re done moving things from storage units, remember not to throw the foam in the trash.
With so many unusual things to recycle, it’s important to refer to websites or contact your local recycle center to see what you can keep out of the landfill. With a little forethought and these simple recycling tips, you can make the planet a bit better for future generations and feel good doing it at the same time.