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10 Things You Didn't Know You Could Recycle

Man recycling

When most people think about recycling, they picture empty cardboard boxes and plastic water bottles. But there are so many other old items hanging around your house that you can also recycle. Many companies will even pay you to bring these recyclable items in, simply because they are hard to come by and, well, there is no Planet B. Keep reading to learn about some of the surprising things that are actually recyclable and next time, think twice before you simply toss something in the trash.


Gardening Tools

Rusty gardening tools

According to the eco-friendly experts at Earth911, anything that's made of at least 50 percent metal is worth recycling. So, if you have any old, rusty tools lying around your garage that you don't need anymore, then you can bring these to any nearby scrap metal drop-off site—perhaps even for money!


Hair Styling Tools

A hair dryer sitting on the counter

Earth911 also notes that "curling irons, hairdryers, and other similar hair appliances can be recycled for their scrap metal rather than thrown away." Though these tools can't be put in your curbside recycling bin with everything else—they contain toxic chemicals like lead and cadmium that require special care—they tend to be accepted anywhere scrap metal is collected.



An old laptop on a table

Seeing as they are electronics that contain toxic chemicals like mercury and lead, laptops should never be disposed of in the garbage. Rather, these electronics are recyclable items that are easy to do away with responsibility at your local Staples.

If your computer still works, then you can use the company's tech trade-in program to get rid of your laptop and make money in the process; if it's no longer functional, then Staples has a free electronics recycling program that you can take advantage of to ensure that your computer is discarded properly.


Smartphones and Tablets

Broken tablet with a cracked screen

The same recycling rules that apply to laptops also apply to old smartphones and tablets. Whether your unwanted phones and tablets are in working condition or no longer turn on, you can head on over to Staples and get rid of them the right (and eco-friendly) way.


Ink Cartridges

Printer Ink Cartridges {Costco Shopping Secrets}

If you buy your ink or toner at Staples, then you can recycle it there as well. The company will actually pay you $2 for each used cartridge you bring in if you're a Staples Rewards member, making this both a profitable and eco-friendly venture.


Fluorescent Light Bulbs

Broken light bulb on the ground

The next time you accidentally break a compact fluorescent light, or a CFL, make sure that you dispose of it properly by recycling it. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), not only does recycling these bulbs ensure that the mercury they contain doesn't get released into the environment, but it also allows for the other materials they're made of—like glass and metal—to be reused.


Space Heaters

space heater weird old household objects

Do you have an old metal space heater sitting around that you no longer want or need? Well, the Chittenden Solid Waste District in Vermont notes that you can bring it to a scrap metal center to be recycled. Just make sure that you drain the heater of any oils first and bring those to a hazardous waste facility.



An old knife on a cutting board

Make sure that you're never haphazardly throwing your old knives in the trash. Even knives that are too dull to be useful in the kitchen are still sharp enough to accidentally stab someone when disposed of improperly. Not only that, but many metal recycling facilities accept kitchen items made of aluminum, tin, stainless steel, and silver, so it's likely that there is a facility near you that will take your knives and upcycle them into something new. Check out this handy guide from Recyclebank to figure out the proper way to recycle your knives.



bike chained to metal window grate, things you shouldn't store in your basement

Bicycles are yet another surprisingly recyclable item. In most areas, a quick Google search will pull up plenty of non-profit organizations that are more than happy to take your old bike off your hands—even if it doesn't work.

The recycling center in Coon Rapids, Minnesota, for instance, notes on their website that "all bicycles are accepted in all conditions." And over in Nebraska, Re-Cycle Bike Shop similarly accepts bikes "in any condition."


Pots and Pans

Old pan sitting on a burner on the stove

So long as they are made of metal, any of your old pots and pans can be recycled, notes the Natural Resources Defense Council. However, you can't leave this cookware outside with the rest of your household recycling. As the kitchenware outlet Pots & Pans explains, you have to bring any old pieces you wish to recycle to a scrap metal facility where they can be taken care of properly.

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