strange things you can recycle

Unusual Recycling: 20 Surprising Items You Can Recycle

Did you know that there are strange things you can recycle? These things are actually lurking in your home that you never knew you could recycle. From crayons to shingles, prescription drugs to wine corks, sports equipment to toothbrushes, there are recycling possibilities for these items and more.

By recycling these objects, you can help reduce waste, conserve resources, and protect the environment. So, don’t just toss them in the trash – let’s explore the world of recycling and discover how these peculiar items can find a new life in the circular economy.

Key Takeaways

  • Recycling a wide range of items, such as crayons, shingles, prescription drugs, wine corks, sports equipment, toothbrushes, CDs & DVDs, fluorescent light bulbs, holiday lights, toilets, computers & phones, sneakers, videos, and ink/toner cartridges, can help reduce waste and promote sustainability.
  • Proper disposal of these items is crucial for the environment, as many of them contain hazardous materials that can harm the planet if not handled correctly.
  • Recycling these items supports the circular economy by repurposing materials and conserving resources.
  • Many organizations and programs exist that facilitate the recycling of these items, making it easier for individuals to participate in environmentally-friendly practices.


The first strange things you can recycle is crayons.

Did you know that over half a million pounds of crayons are thrown away every year? But you can donate them to the Crayon Initiative to reduce waste and support art programs.

Innovative recycling methods for crayons have emerged as a solution to the environmental impact of crayon waste. Instead of ending up in landfills where they never biodegrade, crayons can be melted down and remanufactured by the Crayon Initiative.

This not only reduces waste but also provides recycled crayons for art programs at children’s hospitals. Additionally, there are creative uses for recycled crayons, such as making new crayons in unique shapes or colors.


The second strange things you can recycle is shingles.

Shingles can be recycled because they’re made from asphalt. Recycling shingles not only has sustainability benefits but also has a positive impact on road construction.

When shingles are recycled, they are processed and turned into materials that can be used for paving streets and highways. This recycling process helps reduce waste and promotes sustainability by repurposing a material that would otherwise end up in landfills.

In addition, using recycled shingles in road construction reduces the need for new asphalt, conserving natural resources and reducing the carbon footprint associated with producing new materials.

Prescription Drugs

The next strange things you can recycle is prescription drugs.

Prescription drugs can be safely disposed of through alternatives to landfill disposal, such as participating in National Prescription Drug Take Back Day. These disposing methods are crucial for reducing the environmental impact of unused medications.

By properly disposing of prescription drugs, you not only protect the environment but also prevent potential misuse or accidental ingestion by others. The Drug Enforcement Administration hosts National Prescription Drug Take Back Day multiple times a year, providing collection centers where you can safely drop off your unused medications.

This program ensures that the drugs are disposed of in an environmentally friendly manner, reducing the risk of contamination to our water supply and soil. Responsible disposal of prescription drugs is an important step towards a more sustainable future.

Wine Corks

When it comes to recycling, you’ll be surprised to learn that wine corks can be recycled instead of being thrown away. Companies like Recork are dedicated to collecting and recycling wine corks, giving them a second life.

Recycling wine corks not only reduces waste, but it also promotes sustainability and supports the circular economy. One alternative use for recycled wine corks is DIY crafts. They can be transformed into coasters, bulletin boards, or even used as plant markers in your garden.

Sports Equipment

Old sports equipment can be sold or donated for reuse, which helps reduce waste and promotes sustainability.

When you no longer need your old sports equipment, you have several options for donating it. One popular option is Play It Again Sports, a store that buys and sells used sporting equipment. They accept a wide range of items, including baseball gloves, golf clubs, and hockey gear.

Another option is to donate your old yoga mats to Sanuk, a company that repurposes them into comfortable flip-flops.

If you prefer to recycle your sports equipment, look for recycling programs in your area. These programs ensure that the materials are properly recycled and can be used to create new products.


Now that you know how to recycle sports equipment, let’s talk about something you might not have considered recycling before – toothbrushes. Yes, toothbrushes have a significant environmental impact due to their plastic composition and long decomposition time. But there are recycling programs available that can help reduce waste and promote sustainable oral care.

Here are three key points to emphasize the importance of recycling toothbrushes:

  1. Environmental Impact: Toothbrushes take centuries to decompose, contributing to the growing problem of plastic waste in landfills and oceans. By recycling toothbrushes, we can reduce plastic waste and minimize our impact on the environment.
  2. Recycling Programs: Terracycle and Colgate have partnered to create recycling programs specifically for toothbrushes, toothpaste tubes, and floss. These programs allow you to properly dispose of your oral care products and ensure they are recycled into new materials.
  3. Sustainable Oral Care: By choosing recyclable toothbrushes and participating in recycling programs, you can actively support sustainable oral care practices. This not only helps protect the environment but also encourages the development of more eco-friendly alternatives in the oral care industry.

CDs and DVDs

If you have any old CDs or DVDs lying around, don’t throw them away – they can be recycled instead.

Recycling CDs and DVDs not only helps reduce waste but also has a positive environmental impact. The recycling process for these discs involves creative repurposing and resource conservation.

When you recycle your CDs and DVDs, they can be transformed into valuable materials for the automotive and building industries. This not only prevents them from ending up in landfills but also promotes sustainability by reducing the need for raw materials.

By choosing to recycle your discs, you are contributing to the circular economy and playing your part in protecting the environment.

Fluorescent Light Bulbs

Throwing away fluorescent light bulbs can release mercury into the air, so it’s important to recycle them instead. Recycling options for fluorescent light bulbs are widely available and can help prevent environmental hazards.

Here are three reasons why recycling fluorescent light bulbs is crucial:

  1. Environmental Protection: Recycling fluorescent light bulbs ensures that harmful substances like mercury are properly contained and do not pollute the air or water. This helps protect the environment and the health of living organisms.
  2. Resource Conservation: Recycling fluorescent light bulbs allows for the recovery of valuable materials such as glass, metal, and phosphor powder. These materials can then be reused in the manufacturing of new products, reducing the need for extracting and processing raw materials.
  3. Energy Efficiency: Recycling fluorescent light bulbs promotes energy efficiency by reducing the demand for new bulb production. By recycling, valuable resources and energy are conserved, contributing to a more sustainable future.

Choose to recycle your fluorescent light bulbs to make a positive impact on the environment and contribute to a greener world.

Holiday Lights

When it comes to holiday lights, recycling them instead of throwing them away is a sustainable choice that helps reduce waste and support a greener environment. Not only does recycling holiday lights benefit the planet, but it also comes with eco-friendly options and recycling discounts.

By recycling your old holiday lights, you can contribute to the circular economy and promote sustainability. Many companies, such as Holiday LEDS, offer recycling programs that allow you to properly dispose of your broken or unwanted lights.

Plus, some of these programs even provide discounts for purchasing new, energy-efficient lights. So, instead of adding to the landfill, consider recycling your holiday lights and join the movement towards a more environmentally friendly holiday season.

Eco-friendly optionsBenefits of recyclingRecycling discounts
Proper disposal of electronic wasteReduces waste and supports sustainabilityDiscounts for purchasing new lights


To properly dispose of your old toilet and promote sustainability, consider recycling it through various governmental programs that may even offer toilet replacement options. Recycling toilets not only reduces waste but also has significant environmental benefits.

Here are three key points to emphasize the importance of toilet recycling:

  1. Toilet replacement programs: Many governmental programs provide opportunities to replace your old toilet with a more water-efficient model. This not only helps conserve water but also reduces your utility bills.
  2. Toilet recycling options: Recycling facilities can break down the components of your old toilet, such as porcelain and metal, and repurpose them for other uses. This reduces the need for raw materials and cuts down on energy consumption.
  3. Environmental benefits of recycling toilets: Recycling toilets helps conserve resources, reduces landfill waste, and decreases the carbon footprint associated with manufacturing new toilets. By participating in toilet recycling, you are actively contributing to a more sustainable future.

Computers and Phones

Recycling computers and phones reduces electronic waste and promotes sustainability. By recycling tech, you can contribute to the reusing and reducing of electronic waste.

Electronic waste, also known as e-waste, is a growing concern due to the harmful materials it contains and the environmental impact it poses. Proper disposal and recycling of computers and phones are essential e-waste solutions.

When you recycle your old gadgets, you help ensure that valuable materials such as metals and plastics can be reused in the manufacturing of new products. This not only reduces the demand for raw materials but also minimizes the amount of e-waste that ends up in landfills.


Did you know that millions of pairs of sneakers are thrown away annually? With the rise of fast fashion and constantly changing trends, sneakers have become a disposable item for many people.

However, there are ways to reduce waste and promote sustainability when it comes to sneakers. Here are three important points to consider:

  1. Sneaker recycling programs: Several organizations have established sneaker recycling programs to divert sneakers from landfills. These programs collect used sneakers and either donate them to those in need or recycle them into new products.
  2. Sustainable sneaker materials: Many brands are now using sustainable materials, such as recycled plastics, organic cotton, and natural rubber, to make sneakers. These materials help reduce the environmental impact of sneaker production and encourage a more circular economy.
  3. Sneaker upcycling ideas: Instead of throwing away old sneakers, consider upcycling them into new and unique creations. You can turn them into planters, keychains, or even artwork. Get creative and give your old sneakers a new lease on life.


Did you know that old VHS tapes and computer-related waste can be recycled? Recycling videos not only reduces waste but also has a positive environmental impact. These items contain valuable materials that can be recovered and reused, ultimately conserving resources.

To recycle old videos and computer waste, you can utilize recycling methods provided by organizations like GreenDisk. They accept these items and ensure that they are properly recycled to minimize their impact on the environment. Recycling facilities such as GreenDisk have the necessary equipment and expertise to handle electronic waste safely and responsibly.

Ink/Toner Cartridges

When it comes to ink/toner cartridges, have you considered the impact of properly disposing them and how it can reduce waste and promote sustainability? Recycling programs for ink/toner cartridges have a significant environmental impact and offer numerous recycling benefits.

Here are three reasons why recycling ink/toner cartridges is important:

  1. Environmental impact: Ink/toner cartridges contain harmful materials that can seep into the soil and water if not disposed of properly. By recycling them, you prevent these toxins from polluting the environment and damaging ecosystems.
  2. Recycling benefits: Recycling ink/toner cartridges conserves valuable resources such as plastic, metal, and ink. It also reduces the need for new cartridge production, thereby lowering energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.
  3. Recycling programs: Many manufacturers and office supply stores offer recycling programs for ink/toner cartridges. These programs provide convenient drop-off locations and ensure that the cartridges are recycled in an environmentally responsible manner.

Foam Packaging

Have you ever considered the impact of recycling foam packaging and how it can reduce waste and promote sustainability?

Foam packaging, such as takeout containers and coffee cups, can actually be recycled. Many people are unaware of this option and end up throwing these items in the trash, contributing to landfill waste.

However, there are foam packaging recycling options available. Some recycling centers accept foam packaging, while others have drop-off locations specifically for foam recycling. By recycling foam packaging, you not only reduce waste, but also promote sustainability by giving these materials a second life.

Additionally, there are innovative uses for recycled foam packaging. It can be turned into new foam products, used for insulation, or even transformed into building materials.

Related Post: Eco Friendly Food Packaging: Green is the New Black.

Plastic Bags

Now that you know about recycling foam packaging, let’s talk about another commonly used item that can be recycled: plastic bags. Plastic bags are one of the biggest contributors to plastic waste in the environment. However, there are ways to recycle them and reduce their impact on the planet.

Here are three important things to know about plastic bag recycling:

  1. Many grocery stores and retail locations have designated recycling bins specifically for plastic bags. By bringing your plastic bags back to these locations, you can ensure that they are properly recycled and kept out of landfills.
  2. Some cities and communities offer curbside recycling programs for plastic bags. Check with your local waste management agency to see if this service is available in your area.
  3. Consider using eco-friendly packaging alternatives, such as reusable cloth bags or biodegradable bags made from materials like cornstarch. By making this small change, you can significantly reduce the amount of plastic waste being generated.

Glass Bottles

items you can recycle

Glass bottles can be recycled into new glass products, reducing the need for raw materials and promoting sustainability. Recycling glass bottles offers numerous benefits, such as reducing waste and conserving natural resources.

One of the major challenges in glass bottle recycling is the contamination of glass with other materials, such as plastic or metal caps. To address this issue, it is important to properly sort and separate glass bottles before recycling.

Additionally, innovative uses for recycled glass bottles have been developed, including creating glass countertops, tiles, and even jewelry.

The environmental impact of glass bottle production and disposal is significant, as it requires energy and resources to manufacture new bottles and can contribute to landfill waste. By recycling glass bottles, we can contribute to a more sustainable future and reduce our environmental footprint.


Don’t throw away your old clothing – there are recycling programs that can repurpose them into new items and reduce textile waste. Recycling your clothes not only helps the environment but also allows you to participate in the growing trend of upcycled fashion.

Here are three reasons why you should consider recycling your old clothing:

  1. Upcycled fashion: By repurposing your old clothes, you can transform them into trendy new pieces. Designers and brands are increasingly using innovative techniques to give new life to old fabrics, creating unique and sustainable fashion options.
  2. Sustainable textile recycling: Recycling your clothing contributes to finding innovative ways to reuse fabric. From turning old t-shirts into new yarns to using scraps for insulation material, sustainable textile recycling helps reduce waste and promote a circular economy.
  3. Secondhand fashion: Shopping thrift or secondhand not only helps reduce textile waste but also has environmental and social benefits. By opting for secondhand clothing, you can extend the lifespan of garments, reduce demand for new production, and support local businesses and charities.


Carpet can be recycled through various programs, reducing waste and promoting sustainability. There are several carpet recycling methods that help divert used carpet from landfills and give it a new life.

One method is mechanical recycling, where the carpet is shredded into small pieces and then processed into new products. Another method is chemical recycling, where the carpet is broken down into its chemical components and used to produce new materials.

Additionally, carpet can be repurposed and reused in creative ways. For example, recycled carpet can be used as insulation, soundproofing material, or even made into new carpet.

The benefits of carpet recycling are significant, including reducing the demand for raw materials, conserving energy and water, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. By recycling carpet, you are contributing to a more sustainable and environmentally-friendly future.

Carpet Recycling MethodsBenefits of Carpet Recycling
Mechanical RecyclingReduces demand for raw materials
Chemical RecyclingConserves energy and water
Repurposing and ReusingReduces greenhouse gas emissions
Creative Uses for Recycled Carpet
Soundproofing Material
New Carpet


The last strange things you can recycle is batteries.

Batteries can be recycled to prevent environmental harm and promote sustainability. Recycling batteries is important because they contain various toxic materials, such as lead, mercury, and cadmium, which can contaminate soil and water if not properly disposed of.

Here are three key points about battery recycling:

  1. Recycling methods: There are different recycling methods for different types of batteries. For example, lead-acid batteries, commonly used in vehicles, can be recycled by removing the lead and plastic components. On the other hand, rechargeable batteries, like lithium-ion batteries found in smartphones, can be recycled by extracting valuable metals like lithium and cobalt.
  2. Environmental impact: By recycling batteries, we can reduce the need for new raw materials and minimize the energy required for manufacturing. This helps to conserve natural resources and reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with battery production.
  3. Battery disposal options: If recycling options are not available in your area, it is important to dispose of batteries properly. Many communities offer battery drop-off centers or collection events where you can safely dispose of batteries. Additionally, some retailers and manufacturers have take-back programs to ensure proper battery disposal.

Related Post: The Ultimate Guide to Battery Reconditioning: Resurrecting Dead Batteries.


Finally, you’ve discovered a treasure trove of recyclable items that you never knew could find new life. From the humble crayon to the sturdy shingle, these strange objects can be transformed into something meaningful instead of ending up in a wasteland.

By recycling prescription drugs, wine corks, and sports equipment, you’re not only reducing landfill waste but also protecting our environment. So, next time you’re about to toss out those old CDs or that worn-out carpet, remember the power of recycling and join the movement towards a more sustainable future.

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