18 Strange Things You Never Knew You Could Recycle

Updated: Nov. 24, 2023

Don't throw out that clutter quite yet! Make sure to check if those items can be reused with this list before dumping it in the trash.

broken crayonsChaikom/Shutterstock

Maybe you try to live out “reduce, reuse, recycle” in your household, but you may have some of your signals crossed when it comes to figuring out what actually can be recycled or reused again. For example, that takeout pizza box? Not recyclable. But that used baby diaper certainly is!

Although there are quite a few items that can’t actually recycle, you may be surprised to find out which household items can be used again. So the next time you start decluttering, you’ll want to keep this list handy.


They may be small, but those crayons are clogging up our landfills at a rapid rate. Every year over half a million pounds of crayons are thrown away. Since crayons never biodegrade, that waxy sludge becomes quite a problem within our landfills. Instead, send those crayons over to the Crayon Initiative. They melt down the crayon and remanufacture them, sending them off to art programs at children’s hospitals across the United States.


Since shingles are made from asphalt, they can easily be recycled and used for paving streets and highways. ShingleRecycling.org can help you find a local shingle recycler.

Prescription drugs

Although the common way to deal with leftover prescription drugs is to throw them away, there are other ways you can safely dispose of them without filling landfills. The Drug Enforcement Administration actually hosts a National Prescription Drug Take Back Day multiple times a year. Simply find a collection center near you and give back what you didn’t use. However, some drugs could actually be harmful for others. If the directions say to flush the remaining drugs, you should do that.

Wine corks

You can easily recycle that wine bottle, but what about the cork? Yes, you can compost corks, but why not send it over to a company (like Recork) using those corks to make recycled products?

Sports equipment

No longer need those old tennis balls, baseball gloves, or even that yoga mat? Play It Again Sports will buy your old sporting equipment to be sold for others to use as well. You can also donate your old yoga mats to Sanuk, who will use them to make comfortable flip-flops.


Did you know that every single toothbrush you’ve ever used still exists on this earth? It takes centuries for a piece of plastic to fully decompose, and toothbrushes are no exception. Instead, you can recycle your toothbrushes through Terracycle. They are partnering with Colgate to recycle all oral care products including toothpaste tubes and floss, which also comes in plastic.

CDs & DVDs

Have a lot of unused discs floating around the house at the moment? You could probably sell them, or find a drop off connected to the CD Recycling Center of America. The discs will then be used to create materials for automotive and building industries.

Fluorescent light bulbs

When you throw away a fluorescent light bulb, it can easily break as it is hauled to the landfill—releasing mercury into the air. Instead, Earth911 offers recycling spots where you can properly dispose of them.

Holiday lights

Have you ever plugged in those old holiday lights, only to find that half of the strand isn’t even working? Don’t throw them away! Send them off to Holiday LEDS where they will recycle the products within the lights. Plus if you recycle your lights, they will give you a discount to buy new lights!


That’s right! Numerous governmental programs will offer solutions for recycling your old toilets. Some even offer toilet replacement programs!

Computers & phones

These tech pieces are full of recyclable materials that can easily be reused in another product. Computers and phones can either be reused for other purposes, or go through a mechanical shredding for those usable metals.


Did you know that 300,000,000 pairs of shoes are thrown out every year? Don’t throw them in landfill—give them to someone who really needs them through Wearable Collections. Request a bin and host a drive!


Along with collecting old VHS tapes, GreenDisk will take any of your old computer-related waste as well.

Ink/toner cartridges

Over 350 million ink cartridges are sent to landfills every single year. That’s a lot of waste that could easily be avoided. Instead, try buying a printer cartridge refill kit or simply find a drop off center for recycling these types of products.

Foam packaging

Between takeout containers and coffee cups, foam tends to be a staple in daily life. You can set up foam recycling at your home, as well as local schools or buildings, but signing up through Home for Foam.


That’s right—one particular company focuses on recycling all of those used diapers. Since diapers are made with plastic, Knowaste separates the waste from the plastic so it can be reused in another capacity.

Beauty products

Along with offering ways to recycle your oral products, Terracycle offers recycling for products involving skin care, hair care, and cosmetic packaging.


Why throw away those glasses when someone in need could be using them? Donate your glasses to the Lions Club where a pair of eyeglasses are recycled and reused.

Still confused about how to recycle at home? Here are a few things you didn’t know about recycling that will help!