When it comes to saving the Earth, it might seem like little changes in your life won’t make a difference. But I assure you, no matter the change, every step in the right direction is a step. For me, this means that I have been trying to recycle more, and not even just in the general sense. I’ve been really trying to be present and notices everything I am throwing away, and what I can actually recycle, reuse or donate instead. Why send something to a landfill if it has some life left? Here’s my guide on how to recycle everything you own – and if you can’t, how you can make a positive change instead.
Let’s start with the obvious. I challenge you to never throw any of your clothes away. Unless extremely damaged and absolutely unusable, you should never throw your clothes away. Instead, donate them. Beyond the obvious, if you have a piece of clothing that is ripped, use it to create something else. Oftentimes, you can DIY your old raggedy items into something else, like a scrunchie, a headband, a bandana, a sash, a belt, a purse or wallet, or even just a rag to use around the house and to clean with. There are very few times where good, still usable fabric should be thrown away!
You might be reading this and thinking, well what am I supposed to do with my underwear? You can’t (or at least shouldn’t) donate your used underwear, and you certainly can’t DIY it into something else. Well… Parade has an answer. Parade is partnering with Terracycle to create an underwear recycling program! This is the first of its kind in the nation! Basically, you can send in new or used (but washed) underwear (bottoms only) in to be recycled! It’s free, it’s easy and it helps you keep your undies out of the landfill! Once they receive your undies they are shredded down into textile shoddy and recycled into materials that “are used for acoustic insulation, bedding, carpet padding, furniture, and automotive underlayment.” Crazy and awesome, right? For now, this program is for bottoms only but maybe one day they’ll accept bras.
Depending on where you live, you might be able to put your glass in with your regular recycling, while you might not be allowed to. Check your city ordinances here to find out! If you can’t, you can locate your nearest glass recycling bin and drop it off whenever you’re ready! My apartment recycling doesn’t offer recycling of any kind (crazy, right?) so we got out of our way to the nearby recycling site to do so.
I recently got a puppy, and I did not realize how wasteful I would become. Obviously, you can’t recycle your dog’s poo. But, one thing you can do is to purchase biodegradable dog bags, so that way, they can disappear over time. Some of these options are actually also compostable, so if you compost, you can double dip!
When thinking about the things I just chuck out without thought, batteries were at the top of my list. Thankfully, HomeDepot is partnering with Call2Recycle, a nonprofit battery recycling program, so you can easily dispose of your batteries. Just drop them off at the designated bin at your local store. Something I would also recommend is buying rechargeable batteries so that you can keep them going for so much longer. For my camera, I’ve recently purchased rechargeable AA batteries so I don’t have to replace them as frequently as I used to.
Another weird object I never know what to do with is printer cartridges. I don’t want to just throw them out, but are they recyclable? Well, you can drop them off at any Staples or Office Depot near you! Sometimes, they’ll even often you an in-store credit as a reward!
Have some old expired makeup? First of all, we have an easy way for you to keep track of when your makeup expires. But, we also have a whole article about how to recycle your makeup properly! Basically, most makeup tubes and glass containers can be recycled through another Terracycle program, and most of the time, you can drop it off at your local Target!
Coffee Kcups/Coffee filter
If you’re a coffee fiend, there’s a good chance you either use coffee filters or K cups on the daily. K-cups can be recycled, but you’ll have to take them apart to do so. Don’t throw an entire K-cup in the recycling, but instead, pull the pieces apart to make it recycle-friendly. For coffee filters, you can’t recycle them, especially after use. Though, most coffee filters are compostable! Other than that, I recently purchased a reusable coffee filter that fits in most Mr. Coffee machines. All you have to do is clean it out after use! This is the one I have and I absolutely love it.
Plastic bags can’t be recycled at home. Instead, you’ll have to drop them off at your grocery store. This is relatively simple because you’ll have to go back to the grocery store at some point. But, if you want to avoid this problem entirely, use reusable shopping bags! Check out our zero-waste lifestyle article for reusable shopping bag and reusable produce bag recommendations.
Does anybody else hate styrofoam? I absolutely loathe it and wish it didn’t exist. Check if styrofoam is accepted in your curbside recycling here, or find a local drop-off location. Hate it as much as I do? Sign this petition and learn more about why it absolutely sucks.
Do you have any other burning questions about how to recycle plastic and other random items? Let us know and we’ll write another!