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Natural Awakenings North Central New Jersey

Top 10 Things We Didn’t Know We Can Recycle

Apr 01, 2021 11:08AM ● By Gina Saks

Recycling goes beyond newspapers and plastic bottles—there are many municipal recycling programs and eco-conscious businesses that can recycle just about any household item. Check out these 10 things one may not have known can be recycled. 

  • CDs. The mighty CD had its day, but the vast majority of new cars and electronic devices do not even have CD-playing capability. Fortunately, they are recyclable. Mail them to a company like GreenDisk.com so they can be melted down and reused in the building and automotive industries.
  • Cellphones. The average person uses their cell phone for only two to three years. When upgrading, instead of throwing the old phone away, users can do a trade-in program with their mobile carrier, sell to secondhand stores like GadgetGone.com or drop them off at their local Staples or Best Buy for recycling. 
  • Refrigerators. There are a lot of materials in a refrigerator that can be salvaged. Local waste management companies may have a program for large appliance recycling or find a local scrap-metal yard that will happily accept old fridges. If the appliance still works, donate it to the Salvation Army. 
  • Wine Corks. If not using wine corks for a home decor project, consumers can recycle their corks at a Cork Forest Conservation Alliance dropbox (located in some Whole Foods Market locations) or mail them for free to ReCORK.com. 
  • Crayons. Believe it or not, all those cracked, unwanted crayons have a future. CrazyCrayons.com has a recycling program that melts down old crayons and recycles them into new ones. 
  • Yoga Mats. Unfortunately, many budget yoga mats are made from PVCs, a very difficult plastic to recycle. However, some recycling facilities or hazardous material centers will accept them (sometimes for a small fee), so call to find out the options. Also, gently used mats can be donated to local community centers.  
  • Old Towels. All those old towels, 
  • even the ripped ones, can provide much needed comfort to rescue animals at local shelters. 
  • Eyeglasses. For those extra eyeglasses one no longer uses or needs, like from changing an eyesight prescription, there are nonprofits like Lion’s Club, OneSight.org and VSPGlobal.com that will recycle them by matching one’s prescription to low-income individuals. 
  • Sneakers. Old athletic shoes can be recycled through Terracycle.com or Nike’s Reuse-a-Shoe program, which recycles shoes into actual running surfaces like tracks and courts.
  • Diapers. Yup, even used diapers can be recycled thanks to a company called Knowaste that recycles them into sanitized paper pulp and plastic components. 

While these items can’t be thrown right into the recycle bin, there are quick and easy steps one can take to keep them and many more out of the landfills to be recycled or reused.

Gina Saka is a freelance writer for Natural Awakenings magazine editions around the country. To connect, email her at [email protected]

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