trash talk

10 unusual household items you can recycle: How to do it and where

Bikes, car seats, toothbrushes — you may be shocked to learn what else makes the list.

Old bicycle pile.

Spring cleaning makes us question if we really need to hold onto all the random junk we have around the house. But before you bust out the garbage bags, consider whether your no-longer-useful household items can by recycled instead.

10. Car seats

This one may seem strange, but considering the heavy plastic, textiles, and metal that go into car seats, it only makes sense that (at least some parts) can and should be recycled.

  • How to recycle car seats:

Various states have recycling programs where you can drop off car seats to be recycled.

Walmart has also partnered with the company TerraCycle to hold car seat recycling events; Target has also hosted its own events. Both companies say they plan to continue.

The carseat manufacturer Clek has its own recycling program.

  • Where to recycle car seats:

You can drop off your car seat at a local donation point, but the website Recycle Your Car Seat reports that there are still very few of these in the US and Canada.

  • Is there a cost to recycle car seats?

May vary by location.

9. Toothbrushes

Even sad, discarded toothbrushes can get a new life.


Before it becomes trash, consider which toothbrush you purchase. You can look for one made with materials that are recycled, or renewable (like bamboo). But even if you get a standard plastic toothbrush, these can be recycled, too.

  • How to recycle toothbrushes:

You can mail toothbrushes to TerraCycle, thanks to a partnership with Colgate. But the company asks for at least 5 pounds' worth (that's about 100 toothbrushes, reports Recycle Nation) per shipment, so you will need to save up your old brushes first.

Your dentist may also have their own toothbrush collection program, so it's worth asking next time you are in.

  • Where to recycle toothbrushes:

Your dentist's office or a local drop-off point are your best bets — or mail them in to TerraCycle with free shipping.

  • Is there a cost to recycle toothbrushes?


8. Pots and pans

If it is made of metal, then most cookware can be recycled. But your regular curbside pickup may not take these items.

Recycle pots and pans as scrap metal — but remove nonstick material first.

  • How to recycle pots and pans:

Recycle these along with other scrap metal, which is collected locally. Importantly, you need to first remove nonstick coating, reports the website Pots and Pans.

So you might need to dig around and find a recycler that can do that for you.

  • Where to recycle pots and pans:

The website Earth911 has a search function for all sorts of different materials. Look up scrap metal to see where you can bring pots and pans locally, or whether your local garbage pickup will take these items. (Mine does, it turns out.)

  • Is there a cost to recycle pots and pans?

Some drop-off and pickup programs are free, but depending on where you live, there may be charges (or taxes).

7. Sneakers

When your running shoes have completed their last mile, they can find another life as rubber track, turf fields, playground materials, and other athletic equipment.

  • How to recycle sneakers:

Drop them off at a location run by Soles 4 Souls, or a participating Nike store.

  • Where to recycle sneakers:

Both organization websites (linked above) have a tool to help you locate the closest drop-off point to you. You can also mail your shoes to Soles 4 Souls with free shipping.

  • Is there a cost to recycle sneakers?


6. Clothing (and other textiles)

Donating or selling clothes are great ways to get rid of stuff you no longer wear. But items too well-loved to be worn still have use, too.

  • How to recycle clothing:

You can deposit old clothes and fabrics at a drop-off box or center near you.

  • Where to recycle clothing:

The American Textile Recycling Service has drop-off bins nationwide. You can contact them to find the one closest to your home.

Check local recycling programs and farmers' markets, too. Some of them have a regular drop-off station.

You can also mail clothes and fabrics to TerraCycle, for a price.

  • Is there a cost to recycle clothing?

Drop-off is free, but TerraCycle has a fee based on the size of the box of clothes you send in.

5. Eyeglasses

After they go out of style, or your prescription changes, bring your glasses to be recycled.

  • How to recycle glasses:

Bring used glasses to eyeglass stores or charities that accept them.

  • Where to recycle glasses:

You can bring old glasses to Goodwill or the Salvation Army, as well as glasses stores, like Lenscrafters, Pearle Vision, Sears, and BJ's, reports Pocket Sense.

  • Is there a cost to recycle glasses?


4. Shaving razors

You can not put your old razors in the recycling bin, but these disposable items are made with dense materials that can be broken down and reused.

  • How to recycle razors:

The company TerraCycle partnered with Gillette to start a recycling program.

  • Where to recycle razors:

You can drop used razors at a point near you (TerraCycle has a map of locations), or ship them to TerraCycle.

  • Is there a cost to recycle razors?

Yes, you have to pay for shipping if you mail in the razors to TerraCycle.

3. CDs and DVDs

In the age of music and movie streaming, your aging CD and DVD collection is doing little more than sitting there, gathering dust and nostalgia.

When you are ready to clear them out, you can recycle them.

  • How to recycle CDs:

The CD Recycling Center of America takes your old CDs and DVDs, shreds them, and turns them into polycarbonate resin to make new stuff.

  • Where to recycle CDs:

You can mail old discs to the CD Recycling Center with free shipping (their website has a label you can print).

  • Is there a cost to recycle CDs?

No cost, but the CD Recycling Center asks people to make a small donation

2. Wine corks

After you pop (and drain) that bottle, you can recycle the glass easily enough. But the cork can go somewhere other than the trash can, too.

First, a suggestion: There are tons of ways to upcycle corks around your home (Last Bottle has some sweet ideas). Of course, the wine will likely keep flowing after you have made all the cheese-knife handles and tiny planters you need.

Google "wine cork DIY." You'll be amazed at what people have come up with.


Here's how to recycle the rest:

  • How to recycle wine corks:

Synthetic wine corks — and screw caps, if you are classy — can be recycled along with your usual household pickup, according to the website Wine Spectator.

For natural, old-school cork, however, you need to find a drop-off point, or mail them in.

  • Where to recycle wine corks:

The website ReCork has a tool that lets you search by zip code for a drop-off location near you.

If you prefer not to make the trek, you can also mail corks to Cork Club

  • Is there a cost to recycle wine corks?


1. Bicycles

If you're getting a new set of wheels, don't let the old one go to waste — or worse, rust.

  • How to recycle bicycles:

Bike shops often have recycling programs that either use your old parts, or refurbish your bike.

If your bike is still rideable, you can bring it to a local charity and give it a second life with someone who needs it.

  • Where to recycle bicycles:

You may need to look at the local level here, searching your own area for drop-off points. There aren't a ton of national options.

If you live in the Washington, DC area, New York, and Illinois, the organization Bikes for the World has drop-off points.

  • Is there a cost to recycle bicycles?

The price of being green may vary based on where you live.

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