Get rid of clutter and reduce waste by recycling more than paper, plastic, bottles and cans! Here are 13 things you didn’t know you can recycle, with thanks to our sponsors at waste recycling company GD Environmental.
NOTE: Most of the companies listed below either operate collection centers or offer mailing labels you can download from their websites. In some cases, they’ll pay the postage. If they prefer a quantity of items, ask your friends, family and neighbors to contribute their items and box them up together.
1) Your bra. You may already drop off your old bras to the local thrift store, but why not donate them to a company that will actually get them to women and girls in dire straits? That’s what the Bra Recyclers do. They send cleaned and repaired lingerie to women who suffer from domestic violence, human trafficking and natural disasters. Get more information on their website here.
2) Your pantyhose. NoNonsense recycles pantyhose, tights, and nylon knee-high stockings. Why? “The same Nylon/Spandex blends that make legs look so firm and smooth are also the same materials that, when placed in a landfill, will take 30-40 years to decompose,” they say. Pantyhose is made predominantly from Nylon, which is the first invented synthetic fiber ever created that is a non-biodegradable material. NoNonsense says that it’s important to “eplore alternative solutions, beyond simply throwing our old stockings in the trash.” NoNonsense accepts all brands, not just theirs. You can download their mailing label here.
3) Your MAC make-up containers. You can receive a free lipstick for every 6 empty make-up containers you return to a MAC store. The “Back to MAC” program forwards the returned packaging to waste management centres across the globe for recycling and reuse through energy recovery.
4) Your running shoes. Established in the early 1990s, Nike’s “Reuse-a-Shoe” program collects old, worn-out athletic shoes for recycling and transforms them into Nike Grind, a material used to create athletic and playground surfaces and more. Since launching the program, more than 28 million pairs of shoes have been collected and recycled. RecycledRunners.com operates an online recycling and donation directory to help people find local and international shoe recycling programs, as well.
5) Your Crocs. If you’ve fallen out of love with your Crocs, give them a second chance, and take them to your local Croc shop. As part of their “Soles 4 Souls” campaign, they’ll spruce them up and ship them to underprivileged countries for those who don’t have the luxury of owning a pair of shoes.
6) Your Kindle. Go to the website of Amazon’s certified recycler for instructions: Amazon Take Back Program. Once there, enter your name and mailing address, which will be used to generate a prepaid UPS shipping label you can print at home or work. Follow the packaging guidelines and drop your Amazon device off at the nearest UPS pickup site. Easy peasy!
Need some facts on the importance of recycling? Don’t miss “Why Recycling is Worth It.”
7) Yoga mats. Most yoga mats are made from PVC, or polyvinyl chloride, which means they contain chemicals like phthalates, lead and cadmium that make them difficult to recycle. Because of the nature of PVC, it will not biodegrade, either. And if you burn it, it will release dioxin, another highly toxic compound. Still, if your yoga mat is worn out, there are all kinds of good ways to still put it to use. Donate it to a homeless shelter or emergency shelter to provide extra padding for people in need. Donate it to an animal shelter, where it can help pad a crate. Cut out small squares to put under the feet of furniture to prevent slipping. Cut in half and use in your own garden as a knee pad. Or, make a seat-sized water-proof pad that you can take to your kids’ soccer games. You get the idea!
8) Throwaway food containers. TerraCycle collects hard-to-recycle packaging waste, like Nespresso coffee capsules, Solo red plastic cups, toothbrushes, and more. There are some collection programs in Whole Foods and similar stores, but you can also download a shipping label and mail your goods directly to Terracycle.
Want to increase plastic bottle recycling? Put a deposit on it! Here’s how.
9) CDs and DVDs. They seem as hard as metal, but they’re actually a plastic that can’t be recycled in most community recycling programs. That’s why the CD Recycling Center collects them, shreds them, captures the useful elements they contain, and turns them back into products like automotive industry parts, office equipment, alarm boxes and panels, street lights and electrical cable insulation.
10) Trophies. Is your house full of plastic bowling trophies from your kids’ various athletic pursuits? Mine is! Or, it was, until I realized I could send them to a recycling center like Lambawards. They either create matching sets of trophies or break them down into parts. They also accept old plaques, sculptures, and medals.
11) Your Patagonia clothes and gear. If you own a Patagonia product that’s well beyond repair, you can return it to the company so they can recycle it into something new, or repurpose what can’t be recycled. Drop it off at your nearest Patagonia retail store or mail it in, getting a mailing label here.
12) Your mattress. About 90% of a mattress can be recycled, including the wood frame, cotton covering, metal springs and foam padding. Organizations like the Salvation Army and Purple Heart may pick them up if you put them on your curb. If you’re getting a new mattress, see if the company you’re buying from will recycle your old mattress when they deliver the new one.
13) Greeting cards. Recycle these yourself at home. Most cards are only written on the right side of the card, below the printed message. You can cut the card in half and use the back half of the printed side for a gift tag, post card, thank you card, or shredded packing material.
You can also simplify your recycling process completely by putting your goods on freecycle.org. Let someone who needs what you have come and get it!
Smaller SMEs like Wales’ Leading Waste Management Company, GD Environmental, play a vital role in helping larger companies achieve their green missions by operating an environmentally friendly waste management company which recycles 96% of waste and diverts 100% of waste from landfill to recycling. If you’re based in Wales, and looking to improve the sustainable performance of your business call GD Environmental today on 01633 277755 or visit www.gd-environmental.co.uk