Go Figure: 15 Things You Didn’t Know You Could Recycle

The importance of recycling is undeniable. In honor of America Recycles Day, we’ve found 15 surprising things you can recycle every day.

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The importance of recycling is undeniable. That beautiful field you pass by on your way to work? Soon it might be covered in trash. Or that gorgeous waterfront you pass by on your way to work? One day it might be overflowing with pollution if we don’t make a change, and fast. According to the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC), “Recycling 75% of the nation’s waste will create nearly 1.5 million jobs by 2030, while significantly reducing pollution, saving water and energy, and building economically strong and healthy communities.” Seems like a no brainer. And yet, people still don’t know how many things you can recycle.

For just one second think about your garbage can. Hear us out. Now be honest and think about how many plastic bottles are in that bin. Hopefully the answer is zero, since you should be recycling anything plastic, not tossing it away. But did you know that there are many other items in your trash that you could also recycle? In honor of America Recycles Day on November 15, we’re here to tell you the 15 things you can recycle but probably aren’t. Spoiler alert: those old, sad-looking bras that don’t fit anymore? They’re on the list. Happy recycling!

1. Soap Remnants

Soaps for recycling

When you go to a hotel and you use the soap they provide, what do you think happens to the leftovers? Soap can actually be recycled thanks to a non-profit organization called Clean the World. Their mission is to collect discarded soap products, sanitize and recycle them, then distribute those products to impoverished people in need of hygienic help.

2. Pet Hair

You know that pesky pet hair you spend hours vacuuming off your couch? It can be reused! It’s a little gross, yes, but recycled pet hair and fur can be recycled and used to help clean up oil spills and keep waterways clean. Matter of Trust.org accepts fur donations to create oil-absorbing mats for oil spill cleanup and environmental protection. You’ll never look at your shedding pet the same way again.

3. Corks

Corks for recycling

When you look in your recycling bin, do you ever think, Man, I drink a lot of wine? It’s okay. We’re not here to judge, and we’ve been there. But do you know what’s not okay? Tossing your corks in the trash. Thanks to ReCORK, corks are collected, recycled and reused for other consumer products like footwear, furniture, yoga blocks and more.

4. Yoga Mats

Instead of tossing your old yoga mat in the trash you can repurpose it. Ideas include turning it into a bulletin board, a non-slip mat for the trunk of your car, padding to put under your rug, using it as a bench cushion at your next football game…the possibilities go on. That yoga mat deserves a better home than a landfill!

5. String Lights


You probably never thought Christmas lights would be one of the things you can recycle. Sending your old lights to be recycled at HolidayLEDs.com and receive a coupon for 15% off anything on their site. Everybody wins!

6. Hearing Aids

The Hearing Aid Donation Center takes your old hearing aids, regardless of age or condition, and refurbishes them to help hearing impaired people in need of assistance.

7. Trophies

Trophy for recycling

Your kids were soccer superstars when they were five and they loaded up on trophies when people got awards just for showing up. You’ve been hoarding those trophies ever since, simply for nostalgia. But now it’s time to say goodbye to those statues and make room for new memories. Don’t just toss them to the curb. Trophy Recycler pays it forward by transforming your old memories into new victories.

8. Makeup

We’re embarrassed to tell you that we just found a lipstick from 2005 in our cosmetic drawer. Ick. Fact: cosmetics have a shelf life. First you need to know when to toss which products, and then you need to be smart about what you do with them. Throwing makeup in the garbage = not smart. Most cosmetics are packaged in plastic, which means they can be recycled. And some makeup companies actually offer free samples in return for recycled packaging.

9. Batteries


You know those old batteries you typically toss in the trash? They can, and should be, recycled and now it’s never been easier. Send old batteries and cell phones to Call2Recycle where they use the metal and chemical byproducts to create new products while safely disposing of the remaining waste. We go through a lot of batteries in our house and now at least we don’t have to feel guilty about it!

10. Cassettes & CDs/DVDs

If you are too young to have ever played a cassette then, first of all, we hate you. Secondly, this applies to CDs and DVDs as well. These days almost anything is available online, making that old CD collection almost as obsolete as tapes. Don’t just dump them, recycle your technotrash with Green Disk. Everything they take in is completely refurbished or recycled.

11. Six Pack Rings

Can for recycling

You know those plastic rings that hold together your six-pack of soda? They’re also things that can be recycled. The Ringleader Leader Program gets schools involved with collecting and recycling six-pack rings so they can reborn as brand new photodegradable six-pack rings.

12. Pantyhose

No Nonsense has found a way to give your old pantyhose life after your legs. By sending in your old hose (any brand is accepted) they will recycle them and reuse the materials to make everything from running tracks to park benches.

13. Video Games


You went through a gaming phase, which has come and gone, and now you don’t know what to do with your old games and consoles. Been there. Donate them to Games for Soldiers, which takes your new or gently used video games and distributes them to our troops.

14. Bras

Let’s be real, sometimes our bras get overused, and sometimes they just don’t fit anymore. Like when you have kids and they suck the life out of your once-perky C-cups. Or something like that. Anyway, you have bras that you don’t need anymore. Where should they go? The Bra Recyclers have a mission to reshape our environment by reducing waste in landfills and helping women and girls around the world by giving them your unneeded bras.

15. Bicycles


Your kids get older and outgrow their bikes, it happens to the best of us. But what do you do with their old rides? Look into local organizations that are seeking bike donations or even bicycle parts. They will take your old bikes that are creating clutter in your garage and bring them to those in need, ranging from youth programs to community programs.

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