Start Recycling Now! Here are 10 Household Items You Can Easily Recycle


With the buzzing streets and hectic schedules we all live on today, we often look past the things we have and where they go. This fast-paced consumerist lifestyle remains nonchalant to a big problem we now face. We often forget that after using something, there are leftovers. And most of these leftovers are not easily decomposing, they are harming our environment.

After consuming things, where does our trash go?

According to the study made by World Bank, an average American throws away around 2.5 kg of trash every day. In 2011, US produced 624,700 metric tons of waste, leading the world’s highest waste producer next to China (520,548 MT) and Brazil (149,096 MT).

If all these garbage has to be dumped in a football field size landfill in one go, the site would be 100 mi. deep. It all boils down to one thing –we have a lot of trash.

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reported that 65% of the waste comes from households, while 35% comes from schools and commercial locations such as hospitals and businesses. With such a large amount of trash produced, the environment is on a crisis.

But can we do to at least alleviate this problem?

So far, the US has been advocating for reusing, repurposing and recycling among different areas. According to EPA, recycling reduces 49.7 million metric ton emissions. It is like getting 39.4 million passenger cars off the road each year.

There are also different groups that advocate for Zero Waste, and even some cities aim for this too. Tokyo is a highly dense city in Japan, as much as it has a very high population, it produces lower waste than New York. In fact, they have efficient waste disposal system, so effective that in their train stations, you can give PET bottles in exchange for a train ticket.

The environment needs any help it can get, and everyone is highly encouraged to participate. Even in our own households, we can still help Mother Nature. If a woman from Melbourne reduced her waste drastically that she can fit her trash for two years in a mason jar, we can help too.

Here are 10 things in our household that we can easily recycle:

10. Disposable Cups

disposable cups

Households have a set of these for celebrations and house parties. For an office worker, this has to be one of their “most used things” lists. Disposable cups are usually made of Styrofoam that does not decompose even after 500 years. Paper cups used mostly on coffee orders are not even recycled that much. In fact, in the UK, only one out of 400 paper coffee cups are recycled.

What you can do

You can make these styrocups a small pot in your garden, where you can grow small seedlings and you can decorate it as a vase too. Instead of having paper cups on your coffee, or buying disposable cups, you can bring a tumbler instead.

9. Crayons

Every school year, a student uses a new set of crayons. There are those remains of the old and broken crayons. Crayola has a campaign called Color Cycle, you send them the old ones so they can recycle them again. But you can make these crayons into an emergency light too.


What you can do

You can make crayons into candles. Just prepare wicks, and melt the crayons of the same colors into a plastic mold and put it in the oven until the wax melts. After it melts, you can put the wicks and let it dry after.

8. Pens

PensBillions of pens are produced yearly all over the world. The French pen manufacturer BIC alone sells 8.76 billion stationary items every year. However, pens are not usually accepted on municipal recycling communities.

What you can do

Papermate pens are usually getting their pens as a form of the charity program. For pens returned, they donate a part of this in the charity. In Canada, you can drop off old pens at Staple Stores. Some universities have this advocacy too. Yale University, University of Pennsylvania and the University of Califonia-Davis, along with large businesses, run their own recycling program. You can also donate your pens to an artist so he can transform pens into majestic art.

7. Razors and Tooth brushes

Each year, two billion disposable razors are thrown away, according to EPA. It is neither cost efficient nor safe to manually pick these razors and razor blades on landfills. Toothbrushes are not easy to recycle either. These are made out of hard plastic and nylon fibers that do not biodegrade. They produce toxins when incinerated and take up a lot of precious fossil fuel too.

RAZORs and toothbrushes

What you can do

You can invest in a straight up razor or you can buy a disposable one and store it in a “razor bank” or old soup can after use. Some companies like Preserve makes razors out of recycled #5 plastic through their program Gimme 5. You can drop off your razors on their recycle bin at Whole Foods. If you do not want to throw away many razors, you need to apply baby oil to prevent rusting.

Toothbrush recycling programs are ongoing from manufacturers like Colgate and from Preserve. Colgate partnered with TerraCycle that collects the used the toothbrushes they produced, while Preserve collects them too and recycles them into new handy items.

6. PET bottles

There are 60 million plastic bottles are created every day. However, PET bottles are one of the most common recycled items. You can sell it to the local junk shop or repurpose it as a beautiful ornament. In 2013, the US had a recycling rate of 31.2% for PET packaging, according to the National Association for PET Container Resources and Association of Postconsumer Plastic Recyclers.

In Japan, PET bottles can be exchanged for a train ticket, while PET bottles are used to build houses in other parts of Asia.

What you can do

There are various things you can do with PET. You can transform it into gorgeous accessories; make a decoration, a vase, piggy bank, gardening pots and more. You can also drop them off on recycling centers in your community. You can also use them to make an instant lamp (With just bleach and water) and water purifier (Iodine solution and water).

5. Ink/Toner cartridges

Most of the ink and toner cartridge are recyclable and/or refillable. However, there are still 350 million of those sent to landfills.

toner ink

What you can do

You have two options: either refill or recycle them. You can easily refill empty cartridges to ink refilling stations or you can refill the ink and toners yourself. Just read about how you can do it on a manual and you’re good to go.

If you don’t want to refill the cartridge, you can turn it over the nearest recycling stations in your area. There are also those who buy empty cartridges, so you can exchange them for a small fortune too.

4. Clothing

clothingTextile products are mostly biodegradable but its decomposing rate is too slow. Those old clothes, too unfashionable or just plainly old or damaged, are usually thrown away. An average American throws away 70 lbs. of clothes. That is roughly 191 T-shirts! This waste charges people almost $1.1 billion dollars since the landfill dumping is $100 per ton. You can do a lot of things on your old clothes other than throwing them away.

What you can do

You can donate your old clothes to charity organizations that aid disaster victims, or you can turn them into more fashionable items and decorations in your house. For example, jeans that don’t fit you anymore can be transformed into a string bag. You can repurpose your old shirt as a crop top. You can even use some worn out clothes as rags, too.

Several clothing companies also have recycling policies like H&M that allows shoppers to donate bags of clothing in exchange for a 15% discount on their desired item. North Face and Puma also accept worn out clothes. Levi’s, Gap, and Patagonia offer recycling events too.

Local government in states like Arizona, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Washington implemented textile pickups too.

3. Batteries


Batteries come in handy to power some of the household things like alarm clocks, battery-powered radio, flashlights and the like. However, after this dry cell ran out of power, we often throw them in the trash. And we should stop that now, especially in California since they implemented a law that makes trashing batteries illegal. There are other states that have laws on proper disposal of batteries too.

What you can do

There are tons of local facilities that collect the used dry cells. Materials of single-use and alkaline batteries are recyclable, but the harm of mercury (which is inside the battery) may harm people and the environment when leaked on landfills. You can collect your dry cell in a container and mail them to the local facility near you, so you can dispose of the batteries properly.

2. Electronics

ELECTROnicsWe may love our gadgets, but these powerful devices would eventually reach their limit and they become electronic waste. United Nations reported in 2014 that 41.8 million tons of these waste were discarded, but only around 10-40 percent were properly tossed out. However, components of electronics are usually recycled, and disposal of these items are usually at a local facility near you.

What you can do

You should bring your electronic waste on recyclers near you. An organization called Call2Recycle collects cell phones and rechargeable batteries all over the US. You can also check if your local government hosts collection days via TIA E-Cycling Central. You can also donate your gadgets to charity organizations like Dell Reconnect,, and World Computer Exchange.

1. Aluminum Cans

Aluminum CansAluminum cans are also one of the most common items inside the household. Your grocery can be a source of income too. Aluminum cans are recycled in many ways. Selling these cans to the local facility not only helps the environment but gives you a fortune too.

What you can do

You can help collect these cans, by putting them in a separate sack. When the sack is full, you can sell them in recycling office near you. Some states like California and Michigan, the rate is set by laws at $0.10 per can. What a good way to earn money!

A Few Final Words

Who says helping the environment has to be grandiose? Recycling does not have to be tedious and time-consuming. Even from our households, we can help to restore the environment. With everyday items recycled, you can jumpstart your eco-friendly life. Not only we can cut down our costs, but also of the dangers we inflict onto nature.

22 thoughts on “Start Recycling Now! Here are 10 Household Items You Can Easily Recycle”

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