Surprising things you can recycle

Updated: Sep 24, 2020

A couple months ago, I made a video outlining things that you CANNOT recycle in your curbside pickup or that cannot be recycled as a whole. I wanted to make a sister video and let you know there are some surprising things that you actually can recycle either in your curbside pickup or via special programs.

Keep in mind that most of these CANNOT be recycled in curbside pickup. But, a lot of these items in this video CAN still be recycled, you just have to find out where. Sometimes your cities or regions will accept them, you might just have to call ahead. Or you can ship a lot of odds and ends to terra cycle and other organizations. I will leave links to all these unique recycling places down below so you can recycle more and throw away less. Though, of course, the best thing you can do is reduce your consumption when possible, but if you can’t, see what more you can recycle instead of throwing away.

Happy recycling! Let’s jump right in!


  1. Empty bleach bottles (curbside)

  2. Juice pouches

  3. Solo cups here or here

  4. ZIpper bags can be recycled here or some centers will take them

  5. Bioplastics (can only be composted, but check here to find one near you)

  6. Foam packing

  7. Toothbrushes and razors and other similar plastics can be recycled here or here

  8. Flexible plastics like grocery bags

  9. K-cups and other coffee capsules can be recycled at terracycle or Nespresso


10. Envelopes and boxes with the little plastic window can be recycled in your curbside pick-up as long as the window is removed

11. Greeting cards

12. Cigarette Butts can be recycled here or here

13. Instead of recycling cardboard boxes, try to give them new life first! You can even donate them to U-Haul


14. Tin foil that is clean can be recycled in your curbside

15. Metal lids from things like a can of beans can be recycled in your curbside as long as it's clean

16. Aluminum tubes like my Davids Natural Toothpaste can be recycled in your curbside when cleaned

17. Keys can be recycled at Key For Hope

18. CDs can be recycled here


19. Cell phones

20. Batteries

21. Apple actually has a take-back program for their products

22. String lights can be recycled here or here

23. Hearing Aids

24. Compact fluorescent light bulbs

25. Misc e-waste

26. Sex toys

27. Misc appliances

28. Ink or toner cartridges can be recycled by Staples, Best Buy, or Recycle Place

Shoes, Clothes, and Accessories

29. Running Shoes can be recycled at One World Running or Nike

30. Bras

31. Glasses

32. Backpacks

33. Tights and stockings

34. General clothing can be donated or recycled here (though recycling should be a last resort for clothing!)

35. Rubber boots (like rain boots)

36. Clothing hangers

37. Denim


38. Crayons

39. VHS/cassettes

40. Inhalers can be taken to participating pharmacies

41. Corks can be recycled at participating Whole Foods, Recork, or Your Sole

42. Cosmetics can be recycled at Lush, Mac, Origins, or Kiehls

43. Prescriptions cannot be recycled, but you can take them to participating pharmacies to be sure they are disposed of correctly. You can use this link to check pharmacies near you.

44. Mattresses

45. Toilets and other porcelain

46. Artificial Christmas Trees can be here, here, or here

47. Diapers

48. Empty makeup containers can be recycled at Mac, Aveda, or via the EPA's website

49. Chewing gum

50. Bicycles can be recycled here or here

51. Carpeting

52. Crocs has a take back program for their shoes

53. Motor oil

54. Yoga mats

55. Shingles

56. Coffee grounds can actually be recycled!

57. Cooking oil is another unique one

58. Office supplies like pens and staplers

59. House paint

60. Mascara wands can be repurposed instead for wildlife rehabilitation

Recycling is a last resort, though

You should not just jump to one of these websites automatically because you can done with an item. If you bicycle or mattress or iPhone is still in good shape, donate or sell it first. Allow it to have new life before being recycled. Don't get me wrong, recycling weird objects like these is great, but recycling should always be a last resort (well, besides the trash).

If you do donate or sell your items on this list, be sure to share this resource with the person you are giving that item to so that they can dispose of it properly once the item has no more use. Once the item is no longer able to function as it should, that is when it should be recycled!

More Resources

Thank you so much for reading along, I hope that this was helpful to you! If you are interested in learning more about how to properly recycle, here are some more of my resources:

  1. Things you cannot recycle in your curbside pickup (video only for now)

  2. Where does our plastic waste go/how to properly recycle plastic (video and written post)

  3. Is glass really sustainable/how to properly recycle glass (video and written post)

  4. What happens to our metal recycling/how to properly recycle metal (video and written post)

  5. How is paper recycled/how to properly recycle paper (