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15 Items You Didn’t Think You Could Recycle

Before you toss something into the trash, check to see if you can recycle it. Chances are you can with a little digging around to find the right place.

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The Bra Recyclers have started a recycling campaign where bras can be sent in for reuse. Bras must be wearable and washed prior to being sent. The Bar Recyclers donate surplus bras to nonprofits who need them. Bras that aren't useable get sent to businesses that can repurpose them, like one that sells the wire. Other businesses can recycle the fabric for carpets or textiles. Bet you didn't know these 14 other items can be recycled as well.
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That hair you find in the drain still isn’t good for anything other than headaches but salons have found there’s value in recycling hair. Hair is needed for wigs for patients, cleaning up oil, mats to grow plants and provide bedding material. Green Circle Salons repurposes hair salon waste.
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Packing PeanutsFamily Handyman

Packing Peanuts

Packing peanuts aren’t going to go into your curbside pickup container but places like UPS and other shipping retailers will accept packing peanuts for recycling. Recycle packing peanuts at home in your garden needs.
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BatteriesFamily Handyman


Contact your local solid waste center for recycling household batteries. For portable rechargeable batteries and old cell phones, contact the Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corp. ( The RBRC Web site lists drop-off sites for recycling the batteries commonly found in cordless power tools, laptop computers and digital cameras. Learn more about battery recycling at home.
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Brita Water Filters

Brita makes recycling old products fairly simple. You can send in old Brita equipment to TerraCycle. Just print off a free shipping label from the Brita website. Find the best water filter for your home.
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Nylons need to be cleaned before getting recycled because it melts at a lower temperature. That lower temperature means bacteria can survive. Timbuk2 will send you a coupon if you choose to recycle your bag from them. Just send your bag to them and once they get a pallet full of bags, they send them to TerraCycle for recycling. Bureo takes old nylon fishing nets and makes them into skateboards and sunglasses. Use those nylons to clean around the house.
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MattressesFamily Handyman


California, Connecticut and Rhode Island have enacted mattress recycling laws. Mattresses are cut open, layers separated and materials organized. Foam, fiber and other material gets compressed while metal is sent to scrap recyclers. Up to 80 percent of a used mattress can be recycled, according to the Mattress Recycling Council. Try these tips for moving furniture like a mattress.
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BackpacksFamily Handyman


The collected waste is separated into metals, fibers, and plastics. Metals are melted for recycling. The fibers (such as paper or wood based products) are recycled or composted. The plastics get molded into new recycled plastic products.  
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Bring keys to recycling centers and place them in the metal recycling bin. If you’ve got plastic around your key or have an old remote, you can still recycle it. Remote Recycle offers cash for key FOBS or remotes. Several charities also run key donation programs that they ended up recycling. Got a twisted key, learn how to fix a bent key.
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Hearing Aids

The Starkey Hearing Foundation runs a hearing aid recycling program to help internationally. The recycled hearing aids get distributed in foreign countries to help others. Starkey asks that people place a hearing aid in a secure package and send it in.
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The Complete the Cycle recycling program is available in pharmacies across the country. Pharmacies have collection boxes set up for people to donate. The donated inhalers aren’t remade into new inhalers but the material gets reused. Find out where you can donate.
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Tyvek envelopes

DuPont created a take back program for tear-resistant Tyvek envelopes but they can’t go in the recycling bin at home. Contact DuPont at at 1-800-44-Tyvek® or 1-800-448-8983 for more information. Find the right place for those envelopes and more with home office storage solutions. Photo: Courtesy of The Office Dealer
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ShoesFamily Handyman


Nike started a shoe recycling program years back and has drop-off locations at its stores. The old shoes get transformed into a material that the company calls, Nike Grind, which then gets used to create playground surfaces. Find a place for those shoes with a shoe cubby at home.
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Apple Productsolegator/Shutterstock

Apple Products

Recently upgrade your iPhone? Apple will take that old one, thank you very much. Apple products that still operate can be resold and those that no longer function can be sent into the Apple Recycling Program. If you product qualifies, you could get a gift card from Apple for recycling it. Turn your home into a smart home with cool apps.
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Cosmetics Packaging

Cosmetics Packaging

TerraCycle and Garnier have a partnership where Garnier products are recycled and users reap points with TerraCycle. A point is equal to a penny and shipments over 10 pounds are worth two points. Plastic bottles must be emptied and dry prior to shipping. Once collected the bottles get made into plastic pellets for new materials. Items such as shampoo and conditioner caps, hair gel tubes, hair spray triggers, lip balm tubes, soap dispensers, mascara tubes, powder cases and eyeliner pencils can be recycled. Find out about the best soaps to use to reduce soap scum.