What springs to mind when you hear the word “recycling”? It probably makes you think of soda cans, newspapers and water bottles just to name a few. But it doesn't have to - in fact, there are a ton of other items that are recyclable that are often just thrown away.
The USA sends a whopping 121 million tons of trash to the landfill each year (that’s 55% of our aggregate municipal solid waste!) This undoubtedly calls for us to start recognizing the everyday items we can recycle - we’ve picked 10 surprising household items that we’re sure will be lying around your home just waiting to be recycled.
1. Wine corks
The USA consumes approximately 850 million gallons of wine each year (don’t worry - we’re not judging) which makes all those tiny wine corks really start to add up. Wine corks can be at the forefront of various arty projects such as stamping and coaster-making but if you’re not feeling particularly crafty don’t toss them away! Corks can be collected, re-cycled and re-used to make other consumer products such as footwear and furniture, check out ReCork who can do just that.
If you're done hoarding your trophies, plaques and medals for nostalgia purposes and can bare to part with them, make a new victory today and donate them to dedicated organizations, such as Awards Mall. Your trophies are refurbished and then re-gifted to local communities and non-profit organizations who can use them for their own events and competitions.
3. Tights & stockings
Give your tights and stockings life after legs! These hosiery items are usually constructed from nylon which unfortunately is not environmentally friendly and can take around 30 to 40 years to decompose if they are placed in a landfill. Check out No Nonsense, a company who can turn your pantyhose into "running tracks, park benches, vehicle insulation, playground equipment and toys".
Millions of keys each year become obsolete and are then lost or thrown away. If you have some old keys lying around the house, check out Key For Hope, a foundation that "makes a direct contribution by raising money through key drives as well as direct key donations". The non-profit organization uses the money raised to purchase food to direct support food pantries and also contributes to other organizations to help the impoverished.
Did you know that the USA throws out more than 15 million bicycles a year? As transport and development go hand in hand – a bicycle can provide the opportunity for social, employment and educational developments in third world countries. So if you have any old or unused bicycles lying around, donate them to dedicated bicycle charities such as Re-Cycle who can donate it to youth programs, communities and developing countries.
With 120,000 pounds of crayons produced each day in the USA – it comes as a surprise that our landfills aren’t surprisingly colorful! Organizations such as the National Crayon Recycle Program can recycle your unwanted or broken crayons and spruce them up into brand new ones. They’ve already diverted a huge 105,000 pounds of crayons from the landfill.
Incredibly, 4 million pairs of glasses go into the landfill each year in North America alone! Although you cannot currently toss these in your household recycling cart, many organizations exist such as Lions Club International, who will clean and repair your glasses and distribute them to those in need in the developing world. Dig out your old specs and help someone today.
8. Empty/used cosmetic containers
If you're a cosmetic fiend, you will recognize how easy it is to go through a whole face of products. But don’t forget, plastic is a common material in cosmetics' primary packaging and often retailers offer their own recycling scheme. Take a look at Aveda’s full circle recycling program - they take your empty containers, caps, make up brushes and sponges and recycle them responsibly, removing the need for landfill disposal.
9. Tennis balls
Not sure what to do with the tennis balls your furry friends have lovingly destroyed? Whatever you do - don’t toss them! Yearly, 125 million tennis balls are manufactured in the USA alone with the majority ending up in landfill. Project Green Ball can take your used and broken tennis balls and transform them to create ground surfaces and tennis courts.
It's shocking to think 400 million children across the world don’t have access to one of life’s basic necessities; a pair of shoes. Don’t just toss your old sneakers away, donate them to a charity who can distribute them to those in need. Take a look at Soles4Souls, they’ve distributed over 26 million shoes since 2006 to help fight poverty across 127 countries - remember, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.
Do you know of any other surprising things that can be recycled? We want to know!