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Beyond Paper and Plastic: Recycling Household Items

Many of us regularly do our part by putting empty bottles and unwanted paper in the recycling bin and keeping these items out of the landfill. However, many people don’t realize that they can (and should!) also recycle unwanted furniture, electronics, and other household items.

Learn more about how to keep these items in the closed loop of recycling and limit the need for the use of new, virgin materials with the e-cycling and donation programs described below:

Electronics: The Environmental Protection Agency has a fantastic e-cycling guide where you can find local, manufacturer, and retail programs that allow owners to donate their unwanted electronic waste. This guide includes links for trade-in, bring-me-back, and charity donation programs so you can find the option that works for you based on the condition of your electronics. Check out this great article for more ideas on how to decrease your electronic waste.

Ink cartridges: Thirteen printer ink cartridges are discarded every second in the United States, or roughly 375 million every year, according to Each ink cartridge requires an astounding gallon of oil to produce!

Many people don’t realize that ink cartridges are highly recyclable. Companies like Hewlett Packard have free recycling programs, while most retailers like Best Buy and Office Max have drop-off bins at participating store locations. But the best part of ink cartridge recycling is that you can get paid for it! helps you fundraise for your organization through their free mail-in program. When you sign up they send you the necessary materials to begin the process.

Furniture: Many retail companies will remove your old furniture when they deliver new products to your home, and companies like E-cycle Environmental will pick up and recycle your old furniture with a 98 percent landfill diversion guarantee.  They sort through furniture and if non-profits cannot accept items as reusable or donatable, they shred and recycle the used materials or send them to their waste-to-energy plants.

Batteries: Battery Solutions keeps acids and toxic chemicals from entering landfills and polluting ecosystems by recycles all types of batteries, from lithium AAA to hybrid automotive batteries. They have residential, corporate, and government recycling programs, allowing you to create sustainable practices in and out of your home.

Other Items: Alternatively, seek out a new home for your unwanted items that are not yet unusable and do not need recycling with services like Craigslist or The Freecycle Network!

Image Credit: Scott Teresi/Flickr