How to Recycle Anything

Packing Peanuts

Packing Peanuts

Okay, you know how to recycle Plastics, Metal, Glass, Paper, and Cardboard. But what about everything else? Just about every darn thing can be recycled.

Continue reading for the full list or use the links below to jump to the section you are looking for:

How to Recycle Large Appliances and Metal

Before you dump your non-working or old refrigerator, first try to give it away. Many people are willing and able to refurbish an old appliance. Post your freebie on, craigslist, or any community website.

If nobody wants to refurbish your appliance, try a scrap metal facility. Scrap metal facilities are basically huge metal recycling plants. If you can bring the appliance yourself, they will pay you for your trouble. If you’d rather, they will come pick it up for free.

Other large metal items, such as old bicylces, exercise equipment, aluminum siding, flagpoles, and copper pipes, are all worth money at the scrap metal yard. Don’t throw them in the trash! Get the number of a scrap metal dealer. He or she will gladly come pick up any of your heavy metal items.

How to Recycle Televisions and Computers

For your own protection, when recycling computers, use a disk-cleaning utility that overwrites all the sectors of your hard drives, making your data unrecoverable. Try WipeDrive or Cybercide.

Televisions, computers, and monitors contain hazardous materials and cannot be thrown into the trash.

See if you can give away your televisions and computers before you trash them. Computers With Causes is an organization that upgrades your old computer and gives them to needy schools and communities.

If you cannot give your computer away (if it is beyond repair), check with your local trash collector about hazardous waste facilities that accept televisions and computers.

How to Recycle Food and Yard Waste

If you do not have a compost pile yet, start one. Even someone with a tiny yard can recyle food and yard waste this way. See How to Start a Compost Pile for steps on how to start one.

If you live in an apartment, walk down to the local community garden and ask about donating your food scraps.

How to Recycle Furniture, Clothing, and Household Goods

If you have furniture, clothing, and household goods that are still usable, contact any local charity store. They will often come to your door and take away anything you no longer want. They usually do not accept broken appliances, however. These you might donate to an appliance repair shop.

Many recycling locations also include drop boxes where you can deposit bagged clothes and shoes.

Consider donating old clothing to a theater or drama club to be used as costumes.

How to Recycle Compact Flourescent Bulbs (CFL’s)

CFL Lightbulb

CFL Lightbulb


Compact Flourescent Bulbs cannot be thrown in the trash, due to the fact that they contain mercury. Most large hardware stores, such as Lowe’s and Home Depot, have recycling bins specifically for CFL lightbulbs.

How to Recycle Cell Phones, Cameras, and Gaming Systems

Check your local library or school. Many local community programs recycle cell phones as fundraisers.

Many retailers, such as Best Buy and Target, will now buy back your old electronics when you purchase a new one.

How to Recycle Batteries

Cut down on your battery use by investing in rechargable batteries. Rechargables are getting better every year, so if you haven’t tried them in a while, give them another chance. They can be charged and reused hundreds of times, then recycled.

Try a “crank” flashlight. With a few simple turns of the wrist, you will have enough battery power to find your way to the fuse box or breaker panel. And no fumbling in the dark for batteries.

If you must purchase regular batteries, collect them in a bucket until you have enough to drive them to the battery recycling facility. If it’s a long drive, call your friends or neighbors and organize a yearly community battery run.

How to Recycle Rubber Tires

Check with your local community or trash hauler. Most communities have a free tire collection day. Some tire retailers will accept or even buy your old tires.

How to Recycle Building Waste and Paint

This is some of the hardest material to get rid of, but your best bet is to try to give it away. Many craftsmen and carpenters will pick up old wood for free, bent nails and all. Drywall scraps can also be donated. Try, craigslist or your local Habitat for Humanity to donate usable building materials and paint.

How to Recycle Styrofoam

It is difficult to find styrofoam recycling, but more facilities are springing up every year.

Many grocery stores now have styrofoam recycling bins. Check your store to see if they have one. If not, request one.

Styrofoam packing peanuts can be recycled at almost any package mailing center, such as the UPS Store. Many local stores which do a lot of shipping will also accept clean packing peanuts.

How to Recycle Plastic Bags

First of all, always carry large totes or cloth bags in your car so you won’t need to accumulate large stores of plastic bags. Most grocery stores will credit you 5-10 cents for every tote you bring.

Collect all plastic bags, including fruit and vegetable plastic bags, separate from the rest of your recycling. Most grocery stores have large collection boxes where you may deposit them.

Visit 10 Easy Uses for Plastic Grocery Bags for ideas on how to reuse those bags you do have.

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