Shocking Things You Didn’t Know You Could Recycle

There’s one super-easy way to do the right thing and give back: recycle. Making waste into new materials and items is genius. Not only does it help lower greenhouse gas emissions, it prevents waste and stops exhausting new, raw materials. Ultimately, recycling reduces water pollution from landfills, air pollution from incinerating waste, and energy use. In addition, recycling creates jobs, protects wildlife, and helps slow global warming. There’s really no reason not to do it.

If you don’t recycle, please start. And if you do, please keep it up. Regardless of which camp you fall into, keep reading to find out the some really odd things you might not even know are recyclable.

1. Prosthetic limbs

Prosthetic leg

You can recycle prosthetic limbs. | ImagePixel/iStock/Getty Images

Perhaps the strangest thing you didn’t know you could recycle is a prosthetic limb. You can’t legally reuse a prosthetic limb  in the U.S., according to the Amputee Coalition of America, but you can recycle yours and provide a landmine victim in a third-world nation with one. Visit the Amputee Coalition of America website to find a list of those who accept prosthetic limb donations, and help someone in need.

Next: Dead pets turned onto glycerin?

2. Deceased pets

dog leash

Most pet owners don’t know about this unconventional option. | ImageDB/ iStock/ Getty Images Plus

According to the Guardian, you can actually recycle your dead pet. In Germany.

Because German pet owners are not permitted to bury their deceased fur babies in public, a rendering plant near Neustadt an der Weinstrasse is set up to accept them. The plant recycles the animal fat into glycerin, a common ingredient manufacturers use in things such as soap and lip balm.

Next: Color me surprised

3. Crayons

Stacked Pile of Crayons

You don’t have to throw away used-up crayons. | iStock.com/PhotoMelon

Let’s face it: When you get down to a nub of crayon you have to give it up. That’s totally fine, but don’t just throw it away. Instead, save all those pieces and recycle them. The folks at Crazy Crayons will take those broken and rejected crayons and … wait for it … make new crayons with them.

Next: Just breathe

4. Inhalers

Inhaler

You can recycle that inhaler when you’re done with it. | Martin Barraud/ OJO Images/ Getty Images

Inhalers help you breathe easier, so why not give back and help the earth breathe better? The GlaxoSmith Kline “Complete the Cycle” program will recycle those inhalers — all you have to do it take your used ones to a participating pharmacy and you can rest assured the company will break them down into plastic and aluminum products.

Next: Don’t be a boob, recycle this

5. Bras

Two smiling women choosing underwear

You can recycle used bras. | iStock.com/JackF

Yes, you read that right. You can recycle your old bras and really help someone in need through the Bosom Buddies Program. Visit the Bra Recyclers website to find out how you can donate your used bras, which will go to women in third-world countries and local shelters.

Next: Drug disposal

6. Prescription Drugs

Prescription bottles at Publix

You can recycle your old prescription drugs. | Joe Raedle/Getty Images

If you have some old prescriptions, don’t flush them down the toilet — they’ll just go into the water and pollute it or leak into a landfill. Instead, do your community a favor and use a drug take-back program to ensure they get disposed of correctly. The U.S. Department of Justice Drug Enforcement Agency actually hosts a National Prescription Drug Take Back Day — visit the website to find out the details.

Next: Juicy trash

7. Juice pouches

Boy having a snack of watermelon and juice

Don’t throw that juice pouch away. | Nancy Hixson/ Hemera / Getty Images Plus

You can’t throw the juice pouches in the recycle bin because they are typically made from a combination of a plastic polymer and aluminum. You can, however, visit the TerraCycle website and find out how to ship your pouches there for free — if you do, the company will turn them into totes, pencil cases, and purses you’ll find at Target and Walgreens. TerraCycle will also  give you points for your donations, which you can use for donations to your favorite charities or to buy its products.

Next: Listen up

8. Hearing aids

Woman puts on a hearing aid

You can recycle your old hearing aid. | robertprzybysz/ iStock/ Getty Images Plus

Don’t toss your old hearing aid — even if your dog chewed it up. Send it to the Starkey Hearing Foundation and provide someone in need with the gift of audio. You can donate your old hearing aid no matter what model it is or how long you’ve had it. A bonus: Your donation is tax deductible.

Next: Backpacks are for the birds.

9. Backpacks

Don’t throw away your old backpack. | iStock.com

This one is pretty cool: The American Birding Association in Colorado will give your old backpack to one of its scientists to use to track neotropical birds throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, according to Eco-Cycle. You can also recycle your backpack at Green Guru Gear, which will come and pick up large-quantity donations. Tell your friends and do something cool with those old backpacks.

Next: Key recycling tips

10. Keys

hand opening a door with keys

You can recycle your old keys. | danny4stockphoto/iStock/Getty Images

The Key for Hope Foundation collects and recycles old, broken, and unwanted keys to feed the hungry — there couldn’t be a much better way to get rid of your old keys. The nonprofit organization raises money by collecting donations and by hosting key drives, then  weighing and selling the keys at scrap metal recycling centers.

Next: Hold your nose

11. Dirty diapers

diaper bag stuffed with supplies to take care of a baby

You can recycle dirty diapers. | iStock.com

According to Recyclebank, you can actually recycle soiled diapers. The company works with brands and communities to reward people for making their neighborhoods cleaner and greener. In the UK, you can recycle diapers and other absorbent hygiene items at Knowaste, which turns them into a wide range of products, including flood defenses, benches, and railways. sleepers.

Next: Tennis anyone?

12. Tennis balls

No need to throw away those old tennis balls. | iStock.com

When they lose their bounce, recycle your old tennis balls at Rebounces. According to the website, it will “offer free tennis ball recycling for anyone in the ‘lower 48 states’ that packs a box with 200 or more tennis balls.” The company uses its Green Tennis Machine to repressurize the balls and get them back on the court.

Next: Gather your false teeth

13. Dentures

Woman smiling with dentures

Recycle your old dentures. | IPGGutenbergUKLtd/ iStock/ Getty Images Plus

The Japan Denture Recycling Association is a nonprofit organization that helps children by collecting dentures and mining the gold and silver from inside them. The proceeds go to UNICEF, and so far, the company has raised more than $250,000.

Next: ABC gum

14. Chewed gum

woman putting pink chewing gum into her mouth.

Throwing that gum away might not be the only option. | iStock.com/nyul

Don’t swallow that “already been chewed” gum — or throw it out. England’s Southampton Airport collects recycled gum and uses it to make a variety of items, such as tires and toys. If you’ve ever gotten a chewed piece of gum on your shoe or felt one under a tabletop in a restaurant, you probably wish the U.S. had recycling bins for the stuff, too.

Next: Get rid of those uber-annoying styrofoam peanuts.

15. Packing peanuts

You can recycle packing peanuts. | iStock.com

According to Earth911, packing peanuts are recyclable. Unfortunately, most curbside recycling programs won’t take them. That said, there are mail-back programs available for all those annoying peanuts — unless you decide to keep them and use them to ship your own stuff. Check out where you can drop your peanuts off on the EPS Industry Alliance website. Many UPS stores accept them, too, so try the one nearest you.

Read more: 7 Recycled Materials That Help You Go Green in the Kitchen

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