7 Things You Didn’t Know You Could Recycle (And How)

Many Americans know the importance of recycling. Bright blue recycling bins filled with glass, paper and plastic line the streets in many neighborhoods across the country. But did you know that Americans only recycle about 30 percent of their waste when 75 percent of it is recyclable?

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There is actually a large number of materials and products that can be recycled beyond the well known staples. Some items may even surprise you! In an effort to increase recycling and reduce landfill waste, make sure you’re familiar with the following commonly overlooked recyclables.

1. Ink And Toner

Ink and toner are difficult to dispose of and can pile up fast. Fortunately, you can take your old printer cartridges to your nearest big box or office supply store to be recycled properly.

Dropping them off is easier than refilling the cartridges yourself. Plus, refilling kits often leave you with a new pile of plastic to get rid of. A lot of times participating retailers will actually pay you $2 to $5 for bringing them in to be recycled.

2. Tennis Shoes

Most old clothing is donated rather than recycled, and this is certainly an option for your old tennis shoes. But what should you do about a pair too worn out to pass on? You can recycle them!

Programs like Nike’s “Reuse A Shoe” turns the soles of used shoes into running tracks and playground equipment. Those old kicks may even end up becoming a new pair of shoes. Most Nike stores will accept donations, or you can mail them to the “Reuse A Shoe” program directly.

3. Motor Oil

Any good gearhead should know that you can recycle old motor oil . The next time you do an oil change, bring your used oil to a quick lube, service station or repair shop. They will send off the old oil to be refined and reused, free of charge.

4. Glasses

Your old glasses can find a new home with someone who needs them. Have you ever seen something like a mailbox with the Lions Club logo on it? That’s a recycling bin for eyeglasses.

Simply drop off your glasses at one of these bins or mail them to the Lions Club headquarters. They will make sure your glasses end up with someone who could use a new pair but can’t afford them.

5. Cigarette Butts

The stub of a cigarette may seem too insignificant to recycle, but they all add up over weeks and months. TerraCycle actually separates cigarette butts into their various parts for recycling.

Most of the material is turned into industrial products like plastic pallets, while the tobacco is composted. Spare the ground around you from unsightly cigarette butts by signing up for TerraCycle’s program.

6. Instrument Strings

Musicians, take note: TerraCycle will also recycle the strings from all musical instruments. They will even accept the clippings from instrument strings. This saves a significant amount of metal and plastic from ending up in the trash and landfills.

All donations are separated into their metal and plastic components. The metal is turned into various alloys and the nylon is turned into industrial plastic.

7. Carpet

Pin ItPulling up old carpet creates an unbelievable amount of waste. Instead of taking those bundles out to the curb for garbage collection, find a Carpet America Recovery Efforts (CARE) collection site near you. CARE’s mission is to reduce landfill waste by finding ways to reuse old carpeting. Let them help you make your home renovations a little more earth-friendly.

Don’t Underestimate The Power Of Recycling The next time you wonder whether something can be recycled or not, keep in mind the answer may surprise you.

If the item in question doesn’t look like it belongs in the typical blue recycling bin, that doesn’t mean it’s not recyclable. By being aware of less common recyclables and willing to research your options, you can make a positive impact on the environment. Future generations will thank you.

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