SYS-CON MEDIA Authors: Yeshim Deniz, Elizabeth White, Pat Romanski, Liz McMillan, Courtney Abud

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Did you Know You Can Recycle These 5 Things?

5 Common Household Items That Are Unexpectedly Recyclable

It seems like everyone wants to be as green as possible, and recycling is a huge part of that. But what about those odd items we have in our homes that seem like they’re destined for the dump once they stop working? Or when they no longer serve a purpose?

You may be surprised to learn that plenty of household items you never thought were recyclable actually are. Check out these five unlikely items:

1. Your well-worn running shoes – recycled into farms

You’ve heard of newspaper drives, but have you ever heard of a running shoe drive? The More Foundation Group is a non-profit organization that collects running shoes from individuals all over the world. The shoes are then sold to vendors in poor countries – vendors who are creating jobs that help to improve the quality of life in their local cities. The money collected from the shoe sales goes to support training and tools for their local farmers.

These shoe sales help to create an entire farming system for families to run their own businesses, starting with building the proper infrastructure like a nursery, a well, a water pump, and five months of in-depth training on composting, seed germination, propagation, and other agriculture techniques.

Recycling shoes in this way means they don’t pile up in the landfills. They actually get recycled to other human beings who need them and will use them. And the greater benefit is to the rural communities as a whole. With an 80 percent survival rate for the farms that are created, this project is a huge success.

2. Your old junk car – recycled into art

Hopefully, your car isn’t sitting up on blocks in your front yard, but even if it is, it’s definitely recyclable. While it’s obvious that cars can be recycled for parts and even scrap metal when they’ve been picked clean, you may not have realized that artists are finding ways to recycle car parts.

Hubcaps are a particularly wonderful car part for artists to recycle. They’re naturally easy to hang on the wall, making them a prime material for painting and decorating. Other artists are taking it even further by creating phenomenal art pieces out of tires, lug nuts, and even fluids. One chef made a barbecue grill from the front end of a VW Beetle.

3. Toilets and porcelain sinks

Have you ever wondered what exactly happened to that old toilet you tossed at the dump all those years ago? Well, it may have been crushed and mixed into a composite material used to make sidewalks or roads. Somebody, somewhere, could be walking on your former throne.

4. Holiday string lights


Those holiday string lights can be a mess. And if one bulb burns out, the whole string won’t turn on. How long does it take you to find that one burned out holiday light bulb? Does it seem like you’re playing a holiday version of “Where’s Waldo?” If so, you might be one of the countless people who opt to toss out their holiday lights and just get a new set when they can’t find the culprit that shut down the whole operation.

Home Depot says that’s not the only answer. In 2014, they launched a yearly holiday light recycling program where you can bring in your old lights and get a coupon to use toward the purchase of energy efficient LED lights. Of course, they want you to recycle your lights even if they’re working because LED lights use less energy.

They’re not the only company recycling these lights. Plenty of other local organizations will collect these lights and offer deals on LED lights right around the holiday season.

5. Used baby diapers

You may want to think twice before purchasing that pack of recycled paper. Somehow, someone has figured out how to recycle used, disposable baby diapers and make paper.

The US alone goes through over 24 million diapers per year, which adds over 3 million tons of waste to landfills. This is a major environmental concern, not just from the amount of waste going into the landfills, but because disposable diapers are responsible for water contamination as well.

So one Canadian company, Knowaste, has found a way to reuse about 90 percent of a diaper’s plastic material, and is making things like plastic tubing, roof tiles, and even recycled paper.

Who knew this was even a possibility?

Think twice before tossing your items in the landfill


Before you toss your unwanted items into the landfill, do a quick search online to see if someone might be recycling those specific items for a good cause. If everyone does his or her part to recycle and reuse as much as possible, it will lead to a much brighter future for the next generation.

More Stories By Larry Alton

Larry Alton is an independent business consultant specializing in social media trends, business, and entrepreneurship. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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