How many times a day do you visit the trashcan to throw something away? Five? Ten? Twenty times a day? Did you ever stop to think if all those trips are really necessary? What is trash, anyway? The majority of the time, it’s just something that’s no longer of use to us, but does that really make it garbage? What if you didn’t have to throw everything away that was of no use to you any longer? What if you recycled it, instead?

Today, recycling is so much more than the old standards of glass, metal, paper and plastic. If you can name it, there’s most likely a way to recycle it. And with the Earth running out of landfill space at an alarming rate, the less we have to throw away, the better it is for our planet and, in turn, the better it is for us.


Here are eight common household items that you may have never known you could recycle:

Christmas Trees

We know, we know — it’s still summer and way too early to start thinking about Christmas, but keep in mind come December when you’re taking down your Christmas tree that that dead and dried out pine can be recycled. Tree recycling programs are becoming more common throughout the U.S., and old trees are being used for everything from soil erosion barriers to fish feeders. Check with your local municipality to see if a program is offered in your area, but if not, try one of these ideas to give your tree a second life.

Holiday Lights

Whether you use them on  the aforementioned Christmas tree, or as a decoration throughout your home, don’t toss strands of lights in the garbage when they no longer work. Instead, send them to HolidayLEDs and they’ll recycle their component parts. The program accepts lights year-round and as a ‘thank-you’ for donating, they’ll send you a coupon to use on their site!


If you’re replacing carpets in your home, don’t throw your old carpet to the curb once the new stuff goes in. The Carpet America Recovery Effort can help you find a local company that will accept your old carpet (and maybe even padding and hard surface flooring) for recycling. If you know the company that manufactured your carpet, you can check to see if they offer recycling programs. Many do. And, if you have rolls of new carpet laying around that you’re tired of looking at, consider donating them to your local Habitat for Humanity, or similar organization.


Wine Corks

Wine corks are a hot trend in DIY-ing, but if you’re not feeling particularly crafty, whatever you do, don’t toss them in the trash. ReCork will be happy to take them off your hands where they’ll be ground up and used to make consumer products.


If you’ve got kids, there’s a pretty good chance you have a container laying around with about a million little nubs of broken crayon bits. If your kids won’t miss them, ship them off to Crazy Crayons for recycling where they’ll be turned into new crayons.



Come on, we know you’ve got an old bowling league trophy or two collecting dust in your attic! If you can bear to part with them, several manufacturers, including Lamb Awards & Engraving and Total Awards & Promotions, Inc., will donate your old trophies, plaques and medals to charitable organizations or recycle their parts to create new awards.


After all the support they’ve given you, don’t toss your unwanted bras in the trash when you add a few new ones to your wardrobe. The Bra Recyclers will accept gently used bras and distribute them to women around the world.


Greeting Cards

St. Jude’s Ranch for Children’s card recycling program uses donated greeting and holiday cards to make new ones. The cards, which are created by children, are then sold to help support kids and families in need.

Green Monsters, what are some other items that you recycle?

Image source: clubvino/Flickr