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Common Items You Didn’t Know You Could Recycle

As the New Year begins, you may find among your list of resolutions the pledge to create less waste and recycle more. According to the EPA, American consumers created 250 million tons of waste in 2010 alone; astonishingly, more than one-third of that waste was material that could have been recycled or composted. The following five items are commonly considered trash destined for landfills, but they are absolutely recyclable.

Cell phones

At the rate that technology is moving, Americans are swapping out their cellphones for newer and smarter models at a quicker turnaround than ever. If you have old Nokias and flip-phones from years past lying around, you can put them to good use by donating them to any number of organizations. For example, Cell Phones for Soldiers provides active-duty military members and veterans with a cost-free means of communication. The organization has provided 216 million minutes and recycled nearly 12 million cell phones since 2004. Verizon Wireless’ HopeLine program collects phones and equipment for recycling and uses the money raised from selling refurbished phones to contribute to victims of domestic violence.

Used oil

If you change the oil in your lawnmower or motorcycle with regularity, or if you own a deep fryer that requires new cooking oil every so often, then you know well that you have to go out of your way to dispose of it properly. The American Petroleum Institute suggests visiting to see if there are any motor oil or cooking oil recycling facilities in your area. Two gallons of used oil alone is said to provide electricity enough to power an average household for nearly 24 hours. The website can also provide information on facilities that specialize in recycling batteries and electronics.


There is a lot that can be done with even the smelliest pair of old sneakers. For example, Nike operates a Reuse-A-Shoe program that repurposes old shoes for the creation of Nike Grind, a material which is used in the creation of tracks and gym floors. Another recycling program, One World Running, collects shoes that are still serviceable and provides them to runners in third-world countries. Old shoes can also find new purpose through donations to The Salvation Army, Goodwill or your nearest homeless shelter.

Water filters

Water filters ensure the cleanest drinking water imaginable, and many companies have taken steps to see that the filters used in their pitchers and faucets are not contributing to landfills. Once a filter is exhausted, simply give it three days to dry out, wrap it in a plastic grocery bag and drop it off at the nearest Gimme 5 location to your home. In 2014, Gimme 5 collected a total of 254 pounds of #5 plastic, or the equivalent of 1.3 million used water filters.

To make 2016 a greener year, be sure to research what you can and cannot recycle before you take out the garbage. You might just be surprised to see all the things that have greater utility than simply going to a landfill.

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