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50 Unusual Things We can Recycle or Reuse from A-Z

written by: Atula Gupta•edited by: Laurie Patsalides•updated: 11/26/2012

Most of us know the benefits of recycling and repurposing items. But when it comes to odd items like the toothbrush, it seems easier to just throw them away. Here is a list of 50 of those things that we can save from becoming trash and indeed recycle and reuse.

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    50 Things that can be Recycled and Reused from A-Z

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    fish tank by dlkinney 

    1. Aquarium – A dusty, old fish tank can be cleaned and shined to be converted into an herb garden. All you have to do is to spread a layer of gravel and add potting soil. Then transfer herbs into the transparent new home.

    2. Aerosol Cans – Although these cans have received much negative publicity, you can still recycle them by removing the cap, ensuring the bottle is empty and peeling the label off. The canister can now go to the recycling center with other metal cans.

    3. Aluminium Sidings – The vintage sidings of insulated or non-insulated kinds can both be recycled very easily.

    4. Aprons– Turn up the bottom of an apron and stitch pockets. You can wear this around your waist during garage sales to keep coins and bills separated.

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    5. Batteries –You can send your used rechargeable or non-rechargeable batteries to a convenient location near you from where they are recycled.

    6. Blue Jeans– Try donating them to NGOs, women shelters or children homes. You can also use the worn out jeans to make a hand bag by cutting the legs and stitching the openings.

    7. Baking Pan– If your baking pan is not being given away to the recycling company for melting and re-using the aluminum or steel, you can still use it by cutting one side of the baking pan, drill holes to the opposite side and bolting it to an old broomstick. This can be used as a handy dust pan.

    8. Belt– Cut an old thrown away belt to the correct length and punch new holes into it. Then add a metal ring for the Dog ID and you are ready to take your pet dog out for a walk.

    9. Bottle Caps– These can be given to the recycling centers or made into a very handy device for removing fish scales. Take a 3-4 inch block of wood and nail the bottle caps with the fluted side up. Run up and down a fish to get rid of scales.

    10. Bio Plastics- These can be composted but not in the same bin as your natural waste like the vegetable peel. Bio-plastics can be given to the municipal composters for composting.

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    11. CDS and DVDS – There are electronic recycling and data destruction companies that take CDs and DVDs for recycling purposes. Better still, you can list your movie DVDs on some sites that then help you barter your DVD for another one.

    crayons by John-Morgan 12. Crayons – Used crayons can spend eternity in a land fill and therefore a better option is to use them for DIY home projects like melting them with paraffin to make colorful candles or send them to a recycling program where these are melted and made into new crayons.

    13. Comb– Old combs may be very useful in your tool box. Hold a small nail in place by placing it between the teeth of an old comb and then hammer.

    14. Credit Cards– These plastic things may lie in the landfill forever. Instead, try making music with the old cards by cutting a triangular shape from the corner and use it to play your guitar.

    15. Cardboard Boxes – Boxes are always needed by nonprofit organizations and women’s shelter. Try finding one near your locality and donate. You can also put up a notice in your area for anyone relocating and in need of boxes.

    16. Compact Fluorescent Bulbs – The mercury present inside the bulb is hazardous and therefore care is needed to recycle these bulbs safely through the town’s hazardous waste program. If not, make sure to seal the bulb in a tight plastic wrap before putting in the garbage.

    17. Car Battery – Any car parts shop will be happy to take it.

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    18. Door – Wood of any kind is always recyclable. But you can do projects at home too to convert the old door into a study table, or hinge two or three old doors together for a folding screen.

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    19. Eyeglasses – A local eye care shop may be in need of old eyeglasses, where the lenses are reground and made into new eye wear.

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    20. Foam Peanuts –If you have the non-recyclable plastic kind, give them to business like a packing and shipping company which accepts the used foam peanuts.

    21. Fabric Scraps – Use leftover fabrics to decorate, jars, jar lids of homemade preserves or other goodies. These can be stitched to dress up Christmas time liquor bottles or even cut into squares to make pretty and assorted party napkins.

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    22. Greeting CardsOld greeting cards can be turned into postcards with the back removed. These can also be donated to organizations that cut it and redesign it to a new card.

    23. Garden Hose– Slit a section of an old hose and slip it on the blade of an axe or a saw to protect and prevent injuries.

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    25. Household toxics – Household fluids like herbicides, solvents, cleaners, etc. can be accumulated and given to recycling agencies that have household toxic drop off days.

    26. Hangers – Hangers can easily be twisted and turned into many shapes to speed drying boots or other footwear. They can also be given to the local drycleaner for re-use.

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    26. Ink/Toner Cartridges – Bought by some companies and websites for recycling, re-filling or re-building.

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    27. Jars – Unbroken glass jars can be donated to local shelters for use. Glass is very easy to recycle, as it can be melted and made into a brand new item so give away all you can to recycle centers.

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    28. Keys – Old keys can be recycled and reused to make weights for fishing lines with their predrilled holes.

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    29. Leaves – Dry leaves can be recycled too, in the compost bin. Have one installed in your backyard or near the kitchen sink to throwaway the household natural waste too like vegetable peels. Saves on buying fertilizers for the garden, when the compost is ready.

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    30. Motor Oil - It is not OK to dump motor oil into the storm drains even if it is just a very small amount. Instead, give the oil to quick lube shop or an auto store in your locality.

    31. Mattresses – These can be sold off in a yard sale, sent over to shelters or sold on some websites.

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    32. Nail Polish – Old used nail polish with just a bit left can be used as a seal for sealing envelopes as it does not need warming and seals as well as wax. Also try decorating mugs and marking them with the nail paint.

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    33. Phone Books – These are recyclable too like everything else and can be given to the town’s local phone book pickup.

    34. Phones – Many phone manufacturers are willing to take your old phone and refurbish it or re-use the parts for a new phone. You can also donate them to organizations that give them to domestic violence victims.

    35. Pizza Box – The boxes are recyclable but only if they are not greased and carrying leftover of the pizza you had.

    36. Printer – A dealer may trade your old printer for credit for a new one and recycle it and its parts.

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    37. Road Maps – Local libraries may be willing to take road maps for public use. You can also make the most eye-catching paper for covering boxes, trunks and small wall by cutting and pasting them.

    38. Refrigerators – Old refrigerators can be given to their manufacturing companies or to recycling centers, but do make sure that the chemical called CFC or Freon is drained out and recycled first as it is harmful to the environment.

    39. Roof Shingles – These are being recycled to form part of the roads we walk on. Try locating a dedicated office established in your state for that purpose.

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    40. Sports Equipment – Any kind of sports equipment may be sold or given to outlets that specifically deal with second-hand sports goods. Find one in your area.

    41. Shower Curtains – They can be re-used as an apron or a drop cloth.

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    trophie by Rick212 42. Trophies – It might be particularly difficult to part with these but if you must, there are companies interested in taking these trophies and make them into new art or new awards.

    43. Tennis Shoes – Sports good manufacturing companies are more than happy to take your old tennis shoes and turn them into playground and athletic flooring.

    44. Toothbrush – Yes, these can be recycled too if you buy a recycled one initially made from recycled yogurt cups. When you donate the used brush, it is recycled again into plastic lumber. The regular old ones can be reused for cleaning between bath tiles and around faucets.

    45. Tools – These can be sold on a site like eBay or Craig list or bartered with friends.

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    46. VHS Tapes – Some Non-profit organizations are providing work to disabled people by collecting your old tapes and erasing them for re-using the good ones and recycling the old, cleaned plastic tapes.

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    47. Wok Lid– The shiny aluminum lid of a Chinese wok makes a contemporary shade for a hanging lamp. All you have to do is drill a hole in the centre and rig up one of the hanging lamp socket sets found easily in a hardware store.

    48. Wearable and Non-wearable Clothes – You may have been handing out your wearable old clothes to Goodwill outlets or other organizations, but what you can also do with your non-wearable or torn clothes is to donate them to animal shelters who are always looking for clean rugs, and pet bedding.

    49. Washing Machines – If it is time to buy a new energy efficient washing machine, just check with the dealer who may be willing to take the old one as a replacement and recycle it.

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    50. Ziplocs – Used Ziploc bags can be recycled at stores offering a plastic bag recycling program (they cannot be placed in your recycling bin with other recyclable).

References

  • http://www.womansday.com/Articles/Shelter/Organizing-Cleaning/How-to-Recycle-Unusual-Household-Items.html
  • http://www.explainthatstuff.com/recycling.html
  • Flickr photos by dlkinney, John-Morgan, Rick212
  • Reader's Digest Practical Problem Solver, 1991