65 Things you can recycle right now
Recycling isn’t just about putting your rubbish in the right bins. It can also be about repairing things that were broken to get as much use out of them as possible, or using your old stuff to make new stuff, or donating or selling your things to make sure they get recycled and re-used instead of being thrown away.
Because it’s world recycling day, I’m here to dish the dirt on donating, upcycling, re-using, life hacking, selling and recycling 65 things you probably didn’t know could be recycled.
At the end of the article I’ve included a list of useful sites where you can give your things away for free like Freecycle. And some links to help you find local recycling centres and online selling sites.
We’ve got a lot of ground to cover, let’s dig in.
1. VHS cassettes
Remember these! If you’re holding on to them until they become valuable you may be disappointed. Most of the time these aren’t worth much unless you have a VHS that hasn’t been released on DVD.
If you’ve got VHS’s that are rare or worth a bit of money, eBay is a great place to sell them.
If they aren’t worth much and you don’t want them taking up space in your home consider donating them to a charity shop or care home. (Check that they accept them first.)
If you don’t want to sell or donate your VHS cassettes you can send them with other techno trash to Green Disk for recycling.
If you only have a few VHS cassettes you could try getting creative with these upcycle tricks from Mental Floss, I think the bird house is my favourite.
2. Packing Peanuts
As hilarious as it would be to watch your cat parading around in packing peanuts it’s not the most practical re-use of all that polystyrene.
The green peanuts tend to be eco-friendly, meaning they can be composted along with your normal food waste.
If you have white ones or any other kind of polystyrene it’s a lot more difficult to recycle. If you save up all your packing materials and they are in good condition you can likely sell them in bulk on eBay. You probably won’t make a lot of money, but it’s a great tip for the thrifty among you.
If selling bits and pieces on eBay isn’t your style, you could donate them to a moving company or give them away for free. Check out the bottom of this article for some great places to give your things away for free online.
This Old House has some practical suggestions for around the home uses of packing peanuts.
And The Maven has some great suggestions for making packing peanut sculptures.
There aren’t many uses for dead batteries. If you’ve taken batteries out of something powerful like a torch, then it’s likely there’ll be enough juice left to power something like a clock or remote control for a few weeks.
While it’s good to get as much juice out of them as possible, you don’t want to end up with loads of them in your junk drawer. (Don’t look at me like that, we’ve all got them!).
If you happen to be a secret battery collector, bite the bullet and just recycle them all. You can take them to your local recycling centre or you can find battery recycling / collection points in most supermarkets and local libraries.
Did you love peeling the paper off crayons too? However you used to enjoy crayons there comes a time when they’re just little stubs of grubby wax that aren’t really good for much.
Crayons aren’t easy to recycle in the traditional sense, but, because they’re made with wax, it’s pretty simple to melt them down and make something a bit more interesting. Hands On As We Grow have an amazing list of 35 things you can make with crayons. While it has a heavy focus on children, some of these ideas are great for grownups too.
If you’ve got lots of crayons in good condition that you don’t want anymore, try donating them to a local school, nursery or toy library.
5. Mobile phones
Mobiles are something that should not end up in landfill. They’re made of plastic and electronics that don’t break down over time, so it’s best that they are recycled no matter what condition they are in.
If your old phone still works and is in good condition consider selling it on eBay. If you aren’t a fan of eBay, or your phone isn’t in great working order, give Envirophone a try. It’s free to use the service and they pay money for your old mobile. They’ll either repair your phone and sell it on, or use your phone to repair other phones. The best part is that they recycle anything they don’t use.
If your phone is totally broken and is likely to never switch on ever again, you could donate it to one of the young children in your life – they love having their own phones to play pretend.
If you don’t want to part with your mobile at all, or if it still works relatively well, Make Use Of has this great list of 8 creative things you can do with an old mobile. While most of them are quite technical I am quite in love with their idea for turning old phones into wallets.
6. Running Shoes
Whether you are a runner or not, shoes wear out eventually. Sometimes, they just don’t fit or aren’t comfy and we feel bad throwing them away. Well it’s better for those shoes to be doing some good in the world no matter what condition they’re in.
If your shoes are worn why not get them repaired? In some cases it’s cheaper to repair shoes than to buy a new pair, and it’s far better for the environment. The big bonus of this option is that it extends the life of your favourite shoes. Most towns in the UK have a Timpson shop, they are the best place for shoe repairs, but if you search Google for shoe repairs in your area you’ll likely find a few options.
For those shoes you bought for one occasion and then never wore again because they were so painful, why not try selling them on eBay. Shoes that are in good condition and very lightly worn may make you a few pounds for your efforts.
If selling isn’t your thing, you could donate them to a charity shop. Remember they need to be in fairly good condition, the charity shop will sell your shoes on, to raise money for the charity, so make sure they’re able to sell what you donate to them.
If your shoes are totally worn and no good for repair, sale or donation, you can take them to your local textile recycling bank. Some supermarkets have recycling banks that will include one for textiles. Make sure you’re putting your shoes in the right bank, sometimes charity shops like Salvation Army will include clothes collection banks around recycling areas.
You could also donate worn out athletic shoes to Nike where they’ll be shredded and used to create playground surfaces etc.
If you’re just fed up of how your shoes look, why not give them a makeover? Insteading has some great ideas on how to spruce up old shoes.
If you’ve got asthma, hay fever, or any other respiratory problems, you’ll likely be using inhalers. When disposed of incorrectly they are really bad for the environment.
Thanks to a scheme set up in 2011 called Complete The Cycle it’s possible to recycle your old inhalers in a huge number of pharmacies across the UK. Visit the pharmacy finder to find your nearest recycling point and get some environmental kudos.
8. Brita Water Filters
At one point you couldn’t spend more than 5 minutes watching TV without seeing an advert for the Brita filter. Did you know these filters could be recycled?
They might not be able to go in your normal recycling collection, but you’ll be able to drop them off in most Argos, Robert Dyas, Homebase, Tesco, Sainsburys and Waitrose shops. The filters are collected by Brita and recycled.
If you have green fingers you could use this Craft Organic tutorial to repurpose your water filters into pretty hanging baskets.
We all indulge in a great bottle of wine from time to time, but do you find yourself collecting the corks for no apparent reason? If so here are some great ways to recycle your corks, or make them into something more memorable.
Because cork is made from the bark of a tree, it can be recycled with your normal food waste or put in a compost heap.
If you’ve got green fingers you can use corks as garden mulch. Cork holds water really well, so it’s great for this purpose.
Sometimes you’ll be holding on to your wine bottle corks because they remind you of a great event or evening. Instead of keeping them in a drawer somewhere, make a statement piece so you can enjoy them all year round. There’s a lot of things you can make from corks, One Crazy House has 21 wine cork crafts that you can try out for yourself.
Because cork is so popular in crafting, you’ll be able to sell used corks in bulk on eBay, so if you’ve got a secret collection somewhere, you could make a few bob from it. Take a look at eBay and see what other second hand corks are going for then try your luck.
Tights are a staple in every wardrobe. If you’re anything like me, you’ll keep your holey tights, just in case… of what I don’t know.
Broken and used tights can be recycled as textiles, so take them to your local recycling centre or find a clothes bank in a supermarket car park near you. Make sure you put your old tights into the recycling, not a charity collection bin. Charities won’t be able to sell your old broken tights on, so donating isn’t a good option.
If you’re looking to get rid of tights you’ve never worn, try selling them on ebay or donate them to a charity shop. For this to be an option it’s best for your tights to still be in their original packaging. If you go for the eBay option, selling tights won’t make you a millionaire, so maybe wait until you have a few other things to sell.
If you’re gutted that your favourite pair of tights has a hole, you could re-purpose them into scarves, sheer tops or hair embellishments. How you ask? DIY’s has 15 ideas on how to re-purpose tights ranging from the very practical to the immensely stylish.
11. Makeup and Toiletries Packaging
Sometimes it’s a no brainer, things like shampoo and shower gel bottles are made of plastic so can go in your normal recycling, but what about things like old eye shadows, compacts, perfume bottles and other packaging that’s made from mixed materials. Some of these ideas for recycling, re-using and selling your old makeup packaging might surprise you.
There are a number of beauty products that can be recycled through the Terracycle personal care and beauty recycling programme. Through this programme you can find a local drop off centre to take your packaging to, or you can print a free postage label to send your recycling off if you don’t have a drop off point near by.
Empty makeup containers are a great thing to keep around if you want to try your hand at making makeup. There are hundreds of tutorials on the web and the materials needed aren’t that expensive. If you want to learn more, this Pinterest page has lots of diy makeup tutorials.
If you’ve got vintage or antique makeup containers, makeup, perfume bottles or compacts, they are quite collectable, so you could sell them to Vintage Cash Cow along with any other vintage things you have.
If you’ve got a lot of empty modern plastic and metal makeup containers you could try selling these in bulk on eBay. Crafters often look for empty casings so they can make their own cosmetics. For this you’ll have to make sure they are clean and in good condition, you won’t make a fortune, but if you’re selling other things too, it all adds up.
Big bulky second hand mattresses can be a bit of a plague if you don’t know how to shift them or if you don’t have the means. Here I’ve got a few options for you no matter what your situation.
If you can drive you should be able to drop your mattress off at your local recycling centre to be recycled.
If you don’t have transport, or are unable to lift a mattress by yourself, you can arrange a collection with your local council. Sometimes there’s a small fee for the service, but it’s usually less than £20. You’ll likely be asked to leave your mattress outside for collection. If you have difficulty moving a mattress and don’t have friends or family close by to help you out, call the council before booking your collection. They may be able to arrange for a council worker to move the mattress for you.
If that sounds like too much fuss there is a company called collect your old bed who… collect your old bed! There is a small fee for using the service, but they guarantee they will recycle all the parts of your old mattress and your old bed too.
Some companies like Mattress Online will allow you to recycle your old mattress while buying a new one. This is probably the easiest option if you’re looking to replace your mattress.
If your mattress is in a usable condition you can offer it free to a good home online. The benefit of this is that you can list the mattress as collection only, meaning someone will come and pick it up. The downside is that it’s not often instant, so you could end up storing your mattress for a while until someone wants it. At the end of this article there’s a quick list of free sites you can use to give things away for free.
It may come as a surprise that you can recycle bras, but far from just recycling them, you could actually be disposing of your unloved bras to help do your bit for charity too.
New underwear or gently worn bras can be donated to Smalls For All – you’ll be doing your bit for a much greater cause. The charity sends underwear donations to disadvantaged people in Africa where underwear can be very difficult to come by. Here’s how to donate to Smalls For All.
Donate bras to help with breast cancer research. You can find a bra recycling bank in your area, or you can sign up to post your bras for free.
Bravissimo shops offer a bra recycling scheme. For every KG of bras they receive they donate 70p to Mind.
If your bra is still in good condition, but you just aren’t a fan of how it looks, have a go at redesigning it yourself. There are endless tutorials and inspirational ideas for upcycling bras on Pinterest.
If your bra is beyond all hope and it’s seen a lot of wear, you can drop it off at your local textile recycling bank for an environmentally friendly way to get rid.
14. Prescription Medicines
Medicines and pills can be returned to pharmacies for safe disposal. Next time you go to your local chemist, take all your old pills and medicines with you to be thrown away safely. It’s better for the environment and prevents any nasty accidents with taking out of date medicines.
15. Apple Products
If you have an old iPhone, iWatch or anything else Apple for that matter, you can trade it in. Apple will re-use your old tech and give you store credit towards a new device. Here’s how to trade-in your Apple gadgets.
Of course this isn’t the only option when it comes to selling your working gadgets. eBay, Facebook and Gumtree can all be great ways to sell on unused electricals. At the bottom of this article, I’ve included links to some sites where you can sell your things online.
16. Holiday Lights
Fairy lights aren’t just about christmas. There are lots of creative and inventive ways to use them to brighten up your home all year round. Coloured lights can add a dash of whimsy to any room while white lights can really class things up. Buzzfeed have found 46 different ways to use string lights for any occasion. See if you can put your working lights to use before ditching them.
If your lights are broken, they can be recycled at a household recycling centre near you, pop them in the small electricals section.
Maybe a bit of a stretch?! A car isn’t something you would just throw away immediately, but this is definitely one to keep in mind for the future. After all, cars aren’t something you want just sitting around unused. Here’s how to recycle your car…
If your car is in fairly good condition, selling it on is a great way to make sure it’s re-used. There are lots of places you can sell a car privately online, Auto-Trader is among the most popular private selling methods.
If you don’t fancy facing private selling, there are a lot of car retailers that will offer part exchanges and recycling schemes.
Some companies will buy your old car like we buy any car.com or sell your jamjar .co.uk. Typically they make it easy to sell your car and will even come and collect it from you, but do your research and get a free quote before deciding to sell.
If your car is in no fit state to be sold, do an internet search for car recyclers and you’ll find no shortage of options.
Specs are made from plastics, glass and metals, all things that can be easily recycled. If you have very modern plastic or metal framed glasses you can usually recycle them by taking them to an optician even if they are broken.
If your glasses are in good condition you could donate them to charity. Vision Aid collects old specs and recycles them to provide access to sustainable and affordable eye care services across Africa. Find a Vision Aid glasses recycling centre near you to contribute to this cause.
You can also take your useable glasses to Marie Curie charity shops where they’ll be donated to people overseas that need them.
If you have any very old glasses with gold or metal frames, you could make money from them by selling them to Vintage Cash Cow along with any other vintage clutter you have. We recycle anything we can’t pass on to collectors or use for spares and repairs.
I haven’t been able to find any good links for upcycling your glasses, so if you have a great glasses upcycling tutorial to share please drop it in the comments 🙂
19. Drink Cartons
All drink cartons can be recycled, from the tiny juice boxes to large milk and soup cartons. You can even leave the plastic straw inside or the plastic lid on top. You can recycle drink cartons in your normal household recycling – or take them to a recycling centre.
By now you’ll also be expecting some crafty ideas to go along with your recycling suggestions, I’m not one to disappoint. Red Ted Art has 25 drink carton craft suggestions ranging from simple to “I had no idea you could make something that complicated from a drink carton”.
20. Hearing Aids
Hearing aids are typically made from materials that can’t be recycled. Charities often set up collection points for hearing aids which are then collected, repaired and sent to developing countries.
You can donate your old hearing aids in doctors surgeries, hospital audiology departments, some charity shops and some Specsavers shops.
21. Backpacks and Bags
Backpacks are often made from nylon which is a type of plastic. Much like tights it’s better for the environment to recycle them because they don’t tend to break down over time. Bags on the other hand can be made from all sorts of materials. Here I’ve found some great ways to recycle your bags and backpacks.
Ever heard of make do and mend? Well Mountain Warehouse have and they’ve got some great advice on how to repair a backpack. So if you’ve got a tear or a broken zip, a quick repair could be just the ticket.
If your bags and backpacks are in good condition or only have some light wear consider selling them. eBay is a great place to sell used bags and backpacks. If you have vintage or branded handbags you can sell them to Vintage Cash Cow for free.
If you don’t want to go through the hassle of selling, you can donate your backpack or handbag to a charity shop. Remember the charity shop will sell it on to raise money for the charity, so your bags will have to be in saleable condition.
Like almost everything else on this list you can always give your bags and backpacks away for free. At the end of this article there’s a great list of websites you can use to do just that.
Or if you’re just a bit bored by how your backpack or bag looks try these easy bag style hacks from Cosmopolitan.
22. Greeting Cards
A lot of people find it hard to throw greeting cards away, they can be very sentimental items. They build up over time though and start to look more like clutter. Here are some great ways you can recycle your cards while also preserving the sentiment behind them.
Good Housekeeping also has some great tasteful ideas for re-using old greeting cards. I think the gift card luminaries are my favourite.
If you don’t want to cut your cards up for crafts, you can create a digital album of your greeting cards. Once you are done you can recycle the cards in your normal cardboard recycling. Certain embellishments like glitter, ribbons, resin trinkets and batteries for musical cards can’t be recycled so remember to remove these first.
Here’s a great tutorial from Wikihow on how to use a scanner if you’ve never used one before:
If you are a little more technical and don’t mind using Photoshop Who Arted has an excellent tutorial on using Photoshop to create a card scrapbook.
23. Wedding Dresses
How many wedding dresses end up at the back of closets never to be used again? A high percentage I’d bet.
If you have a vintage wedding dress it could be worth a bit of money. You can send your vintage wedding dress to Vintage Cash Cow who will appraise it and offer to buy it from you.
If you’re happy to part with your dress and it’s in good condition there are a few selling options open to you. Modern dresses can be sold on eBay or through dedicated wedding dress selling sites like Sell my Wedding Dress and Bridal Reloved.
If you don’t fancy selling your wedding dress but don’t have room for it you can donate it to a charity.
Wish for a wedding use donated wedding dresses to help give terminally ill patients the wedding of their dreams.
Heavenly Gowns use donated wedding dresses to make burial gowns for children who have sadly passed away.
If you don’t want to part with your dress, Home Hacks has got some great ideas for upcycling a wedding dress. That way you’ll free up some space in your wardrobe and get to enjoy the dress a lot more.
Old metal keys can be sold for their metal content, if you have old brass, iron or copper keys you can send them to Vintage Cash Cow along with any other vintage stuff you have. We collect all the scrap metals we get sent and sell them in large amounts to industrial metal traders where they are recycled.
More modern keys made from steel and aluminium can be recycled at most recycling centres that accept metal.
If you’ve got a crafty streak Wonderful DIY has 15 great key craft ideas for you.
Before you even think about recycling your computer make sure that all your personal data is removed from it. This is a really important step that you should never skip. This Life Wire article explains how to completely remove all your personal data from a computer.
Once you’ve removed all your data you can recycle your computer at any recycling centres that accept electronics.
You can also donate your old computers to charity. Weeecharity accepts computers and electronic goods. They refurbish or recycle them and make sure they are passed on to those who aren’t fortunate enough to be able to afford one.
If your computer is in bad repair you could try giving it away for free. There are plenty of people looking for broken computers to use in repairs. Before you do this it’s really important that you wipe any personal data off your machine. At the end of this article there’s a list of sites you can use to offer your things for free.
If your computer is in good working condition there’s no reason not to sell it. Again make sure it’s free of your personal data then consider selling on eBay or on a specific laptop selling site like Sell My Laptop.
There are no shortage of options when it comes to selling your old computers or laptops, so make sure you compare selling options to get the best price for your electronics.
26. Printer Cartridges
There are lots of places to recycle your old printer cartridges. Some companies will allow you to get your cartridges re-filled, though in some cases this may void the warranty on your printer, so make sure you double check before using them.
Cartridges are made of plastic and sometimes contain computer chips, so if they go to landfill they don’t decompose. Recycling them is far better for the environment.
You can exchange printer cartridges for green Tesco clubcard points via the recycling factory, you can then use your points for all sorts of rewards from Tesco Clubcard.
There are also plenty of charities that collect printer cartridges, among them British Heart Foundation, Against Breast Cancer and Recycle 4 Charity. They recycle them to raise money for their charity.
Printer cartridge recycling will either give you or a charity of your choice money for your old printer cartridges.
By now you’ll be starting to realise that there’s a craft for just about everything. You can get some great printer cartridge upcycling inspiration from Pinterest.
27. Glass Jars
You can recycle all kinds of glass jars in your kerbside recycling – don’t forget a lot of cooking sauces these days come in glass jars too. Keep your eye out for them, make sure they are clean, then pop them in the recycling bin.
If you don’t have a kerbside recycling programme near you, you can take them to your local recycling centre or to a bottle bank usually found in supermarket car parks.
There’s also a few great ways to upcycle your old jars into household storage containers among other things. Tip Hero has 28 glass jar craft projects for you to try.
28. Toilet Paper Rolls
I thought everyone knew this but apparently lots of people just pop the cardboard from inside the loo roll straight in the bin!
It’s made of cardboard and can be recycled at a recycling centre, bank or with your normal kerbside collection.
Or, if you have the patience to begin collecting them you might just be able to sell them on eBay – sounds far fetched, but Skint Dad has all the details on how to make money on eBay selling toilet rolls.
And, of course, the obligatory crafting ideas 🙂 These easy toilet paper roll crafts come to you courtesy of Red Ted Art.
29. Plastic Shopping Bags
Now that shopping bags cost 5p a go (and are bad for the environment) it’s time to recycle them. You can do this at most major supermarkets, there’s usually a collection bin for old carrier bags in the foyer. Most supermarkets have a bag for life scheme, meaning if your ‘bag for life’ is broken they’ll replace it for free and recycle the old one.
Plastic bags can also be upcycled into pom poms and such, just remember they have a bad effect on the environment, so don’t turn them into something that can’t be recycled eventually. Saved by Love Creations has over 50 ideas for upcycling plastic bags ranging from making shoes and flowers to making your own jewellery. Who knew plastic bags were so versatile?!
30. Aluminium Foil & Foil Trays
How many times have you crumpled up virtually clean foil? Or foil trays from baking or sweet tarts. They can go in your normal recycling collection – yay!
For brownie points make sure you collect foil together as one big ball, this makes it easier for the recycling plant at the other end.
By now you’ll be dying to see what can be made from tin foil, Wonderful DIY have 10 great crafting ideas for using up your old tin foil.
31. Screw Top Lids From Wine Bottles
While we’re on the subject of aluminium did you know that most metal screw top wine bottle lids are also made from aluminium – so while you’re throwing the empty bottle in the recycling, you can also add the lid.
Unfortunately I couldn’t find anything crafty to make with wine bottle lids, so if you know of a great way to upcycle them, let us all know in the comments.
32. Aerosol Cans
Again these are bad for the environment so it’s important to dispose of them in an ethical way and recycling is just the way to do that.
Make sure you observe the usual safety precautions
- Don’t damage the aerosol can in any way
- Make sure it’s empty if you are recycling it
- Don’t include the lids with your aerosols (these are usually plastic and can go in your normal recycling)
If your aerosol can is totally empty, you can put this in the normal kerbside recycling with your other steel cans (like bean tins etc).
If you need to dispose of aerosol cans that aren’t empty you’ll need to take them to your local recycling centre and dispose of them as hazardous household waste.
While you can get rid of old carpets at most household waste centres, there are some other surprising ways to use your old carpet.
Carpet Recycling UK have some of the best in depth tips for getting rid of old carpet, among them donating your carpet to an animal rescue shelter, and using it as an anti frost windscreen cover.
If you love upcycling as much as you love recycling there are lots of things you can make with old carpet. This DIY and Crafts article has 20 carpet craft ideas to get you started.
Just about everyone knows that you can sell your old CD’s via a lot of online companies these days.
If they are in good condition consider selling them on eBay, Amazon, Facebook or just about any platform. You can find links to some good selling sites at the end of this article.
If you want to help a charity you can donate CD’s to them and they’ll sell them on to raise money for their specific charity.
Some companies like Music Magpie and Ziffit will buy your CD’s in bulk with prices ranging from a few pence to a few pounds, this is a great option if your CD’s are in poor condition, you may not make much from them but these companies are able to recycle the discs in bulk where they get turned into things like car headlights.
You can make some incredibly beautiful things with old CD’s. If upcycling is your thing, or you want to have a go at making something shiny, this Bored Panda article has 21 great CD upcycling crafts for you to try.
We’ve all made clothing impulse buys (and usually regretted them). The good news is there are about a thousand different ways to rid yourself of old clothes. You can sell them, donate them and upcycle them.
Check out this great guest post from Pre-Loved Re-reloved on how to sort out your old clothes, and where to sell or donate them afterwards.
If you have mad seamstress skills check out over 100 ways to give your clothes a makeover courtesy of The Sewing Loft Blog.
If you don’t fancy the needle and thread approach, search pinterest for ‘no sew’ clothes upcycling and you’ll find a few options that don’t require any stitching prowess.
Of course if you aren’t the crafty sort, and your clothes aren’t in a good enough condition to be used again, you can recycle them as textiles at your local household waste recycling centre.
36. White Goods
Things like washing machines, tumble dryers, fridges and freezers can be recycled by selling them on if they are in good condition. If they’re in good working order, but not quite good enough to sell, consider offering them for free on Freecyle.
If you don’t want to sell or your white goods are no longer working taking them to your local household waste recycling centre, or arrange a bulky waste pick up from your local council.
If you’re buying a new appliance consider buying from a shop that offers to recycle your old item. Usually you can get the old one taken away at the same time a new one is delivered. It relieves a lot of hassle and saves you having to dance around a defunct appliance for a few days.
37. Fluorescent Light Bulbs
Did you know these could be recycled?! You can recycle fluorescent tubes, low energy light bulbs, and LEDs. Recolight offer free light bulb recycling points around the country.
In most instances you can also recycle these at your local household waste recycling centre, but there are also some collection points in local shops and supermarkets.
Unfortunately you can’t recycle the old style bulbs, only the newer energy efficient ones. Dispose of old light bulbs carefully in your normal rubbish collection.
As with (nearly) everything, there’s a craft for that! Avso have listed over 120 things you can make from old light bulbs. These range from cute to ultra chic, there’s even some wonderful green fingered ideas in there.
38. Shredded Paper
Shredded paper is just paper! So it can be recycled. In some instances you’ll be able to include shredded paper with your normal kerbside recycling scheme. Check the details of your local scheme though, as not all councils allow you to add shredded paper to your recycling bin.
If you can’t recycle it via normal means, there are a few other options open to you.
Shredded paper is good for composting, so if you have a compost heap add it in.
Pets like hamsters and guinea pigs like to use shredded paper for bedding – for maximum green brownie points give it to your pets as bedding and compost it when they are done with it.
Use it as packaging material. If the paper is shredded beyond all recognition and the information it contained wasn’t too sensitive you can use shredded paper as a packing material when sending fragile things in the post.
Or if you have a creative streak make it a part of your next craft project. Shredded paper is great for paper mache. Homesthetics have 30 great paper mache projects you can try for yourself. Or if you fancy making your own craft paper, Snappy Living has a perfect recycled paper tutorial for you.
39. Motor Oil
In most cases an oil change will be carried out by a trained mechanic who will dispose of the old engine oil for you. If you’ve got a do-it-yourself streak, or old oil cans you want to get rid of, you’ll be making a positive impact on the environment by recycling them.
Most household waste recycling centres accept motor oil, but if in doubt, use this handy postcode checker from Oil Bank Line to find your nearest oil bank.
40. Game Discs
Game discs just like CDs can get scratched up. Thankfully, just like CD’s there are loads of ways to recycle them.
Some shops will buy games back from you either for cash or store credit, this is a great option if your games are in good condition.
If you’re having a mass clear out, or your games are in terrible condition, send them somewhere like Music Magpie who can buy all your games and CD’s in one go. Games in less than great condition may only be worth few pence, but as Music Magpie buy CD’s and DVD’s in bulk they’re able to recycle any discs that are unusable.
If your games are in terrible condition and they’re no longer playable see what you can do with them craft wise. (See the CD’s Section for some great upcycle ideas).
41. Sports Equipment
It’s surprising how much we just let this stuff gather dust in our homes. Any sports equipment in good condition can be sold or donated. eBay is a great place to start selling old sports equipment, but you can also try places like Facebook and other local marketplaces. Most charity shops will accept sports equipment if you want to donate it, or why not see if your local school would find it useful?
Old balls have about a million uses, my favourite is to donate them to kennels or animal shelters where dogs will have fun playing with them.
Is there a craft for that? Probably! Take a look on pinterest for upcycle ideas that are specific to your equipment. For instance these ideas for tennis racket upcycling.
Standard disposable razors are not easy to recycle, however, there are a few brands now being sold that are advertised as recyclable razors, so keep your eye out for those to enlarge your green footprint.
For now the best you can do with disposable razors is to wrap them in something before popping them in the bin.
Electric razors can be recycled as small electronics at a local household waste recycling centre.
If you have vintage or antique razors or straight razors, you can sell them to Vintage Cash Cow along with any other vintage items.
I know you’re waiting for the craft suggestions, but I just can’t in all conscience give you razor blade crafts, I don’t think I’d ever sleep again… Don’t craft with them, just make sure you dispose of them safely, and in an environmentally friendly way if you can.
All kinds of wood can be recycled in – you guessed it – your local household waste recycling centre. (Find your nearest recycling centre using the links at the end of this article).
Wooden furniture, old pallets, spare bits of wood from your latest bird house project, they’ll take it all.
Did you know you can also use sawdust and wood chippings in compost? Don’t use sawdust and wood chippings for your pets though. Sawdust given to small pets like hamsters is usually specially treated, so the chippings from your shed floor aren’t a good call for pets.
If you can’t get to a recycling centre and you’ve got old bits of wood or wooden furniture lying about you can offer them for free on freecycle. Usually someone will come and pick them up.
If carpentry is your regular gig you’ll likely have offcuts lying around. Collect them up, a bunch of wooden offcuts sold together on eBay could make you a pretty penny.
If you’ve got a creative streak… that’s right, wood can be made into lots of different things – even from the smallest lollipop stick… Babble has 20 lollipop stick craft ideas you can get stuck into (quite literally – always be careful with glue guns!) Or get searching Pinterest to make the most from your leftover wood.
While it’s not one of the easiest things to recycle, there are ways. Due to the chemicals present in fertilizer it’s better to make sure you don’t throw this stuff in the bin.
You could try listing it for free on freecycle to see if someone will take it off your hands or donate it to a park / school or any institution that has nice gardens.
Is there a craft for that – besides growing plants and flowers I sure hope not!
If yours is in good condition and you aren’t using it anymore sell it on. That way it will keep getting plenty of use.
If you aren’t up for selling you can donate your bike to a charity or offer it for free on freecycle.
There are a few bike recycling centres in the UK, Cycling UK offers a great recycling service, at their centres you can get your bike repaired or recycled.
If you’ve got a new bike and don’t want to sell or use your old one, you could donate it to someone in need. Re-Cycle is a charity that will take your old bikes and put them to use in Africa to help those less fortunate. Find a Re-Cycle drop off point near you to help out this fantastic charity.
Here are a few creative ways to use parts of a bicycle courtesy of Recycle Nation – bet you didn’t see that coming?
46. Christmas Trees
No matter if your tree is real or artificial you can recycle it.
Real trees can be recycled at your local recycling centre, sometimes after Christmas a local authority will arrange specific or additional drop off points. Keep your eye on your local authority website around Christmas for more information on recycling real trees.
Artificial trees are harder to recycle because they’re made of mixed materials. The best thing for artificial trees is to see if someone else wants it by selling if it’s in good condition or giving it away on Freecycle.
Check out Pinterest for some crafty upcycled christmas tree ideas.
47. Cracker And Biscuit Wrappers
Have you ever had the – are they plastic recycling or not – dilemma when deciding to put biscuit wrappers in the recycling bin? Well worry no more.
You can actually recycle cracker and biscuit wrappers, but not in your normal kerbside collection. Terracycle has set up a scheme that will allow you to drop off all your cracker and biscuit wrappers at a local collection point. Or if there isn’t one near you, print a free postage label from their website and post it to them instead.
48. Reusable Sandwich Bags
The sandwich bags that seal and reseal can just be recycled with your normal recycling. That’s one I didn’t know!
For some creative uses of seal and reseal bags around the house, check out this You Tube video:
49. Tennis Balls
OK, OK, I know this is technically cheating because I talked about sports equipment earlier on! Buuut there were so many uses of tennis balls that I eventually gave it it’s own section.
If your tennis balls are in great condition, you can sell them. If selling on eBay or another private platform it’s a good idea to sell them in bulk. Unless you’ve got a rare tennis ball you won’t make much selling one at a time.
Another great way to sell your tennis balls is by using UK Tennis. They will buy used tennis balls from you in batches of 100 or 200, the prices they pay are clearly stated on their website, and they’ll arrange free postage for you too.
Earlier I suggested donating your tennis balls (and any other balls really) to a local dog shelter. Recycle Tennis Balls are a company that will help you do that for free. All you have to do is send them your tennis balls, and they’ll make sure they’re donated to the dogs that need them.
And of course, there are endless uses around the home, Green Eco Services have collected 48 ways to recycle and reuse tennis balls. These range from recycling ideas to craft ideas and everything in between – I’m still laughing at #24 “learn to juggle”!
So you may not have an old toilet lying around, but if you ever decide to replace your toilet, it can be recycled.
Local Recycling facilities will accept toilets, but you’ll need to make sure that you remove anything from the toilet that isn’t porcelain. If you don’t have the ability to transport your toilet, some councils will collect them (sometimes for a small fee). The links at the end of this article will help you find a recycling point or arrange a collection.
I don’t have any craft suggestions for this one, though I have seen old toilets used as garden planters on Pinterest, but they do just look like toilets with flowers in them…
51. Miscellaneous Clutter
It’s so hard sorting out miscellaneous stuff, like the junk drawer, but you can actually recycle huge amounts of clutter if you apply just a few rules.
Some clutter can be sold. Remove CD’s, DVD’s, games and books from your clutter pile and put them in your ‘to sell’ pile.
Vintage ornaments, jewellery and antique things can be sold to Vintage Cash Cow for free, so make sure they’re in your ‘to sell’ pile too.
Look at what’s left in your clutter pile, if any of your clutter is in good condition and would be useful to someone else, consider donating it to a charity shop or offering it for free on Freecycle.
Anything that’s left over is likely ‘rubbish’. Before dumping it in the bin look at what you can recycle. Generally things that are made from mixed materials that can’t be separated will be hard to recycle. Things like glass, paper, card and plastics are all things you can recycle with your normal recycling collection.
As we’ve already seen Pinterest is a hotbed of upcycles, DIYs and, life hacks, so don’t forget to do a search for the more creative uses of your old clutter.
52. Coffee Pods
If you’ve got one of those fancy machines that makes coffee from a little pod, don’t just throw the pods in the bin. Again Terracycle has us covered with drop off locations around the UK. They also have a programme that allows you to send your pods to them in the post for free if you don’t live close to a drop off. Find a coffee pod recycling point here.
Just when you think there’s surely not a creative way to use coffee pods you come across this List Inspired article detailing 25 genius reuses of instant coffee pods.
53. Milk Bottles
Back when I was little our milkman used to deliver milk in glass bottles. Every night my mum would wash our empty milk bottles and put them on the doorstep. Early the next morning, the milkman would take them away and replace them with full milk bottles, and so the cycle went.
In some areas of the UK it’s possible to still take advantage of a green service like this, but, it’s far more common to buy milk in plastic bottles from a supermarket.
Glass and plastic milk bottles (and their lids) can be recycled in your normal kerbside collection.
Cool DIY Ideas has listed 16 ways to reuse and recycle plastic milk bottles. So check the article out for a mixture of creative and practical life hacks.
54. Flower Pots
Orange plastic flower pots can be recycled with your normal recycling, but sometimes black plastic pots can’t be. Check with your local authority before recycling them.
Some garden centres will take plant pots back to reuse or recycle. You can also try donating them to a local allotment or offer them free to a good home on Freecycle.
If you’ve got a collection of plastic plant pots in good condition you may be able to sell them in bulk on eBay though you likely won’t make tonnes of money unless you’ve got something special.
If you just aren’t keen on having a garden full of plastic pots jazz them up with these suggestions for making your plastic pots more chic from Home Talk.
55. Amazon Boxes /Pizza Boxes / Boxes in General
Boxes are cardboard! Recycle them…
Oops, nearly forgot the obligatory hacks and upcycles! These diy cardboard box crafts come from Craftionary.
56. Coat Hangers
Wire coat hangers can usually be recycled in your kerbside collection as they are made of metal. Hangers made entirely of plastic can be recycled as plastic. But those made from plastic and metal or wood and metal can’t be easily recycled. That doesn’t mean you can throw them in the bin though!
If you’ve got a lot of coat hangers that are in good condtition you can try selling them in bulk on eBay.
If you don’t fancy the hassle of selling, you could contact your local dry cleaners, they are sometimes greatful for donations of plastic hangers. Charity shops may also be happy with a donation, but contact them to check first.
If you’ve got quite a few to get rid of, ask friends and family if they need any spare hangers, or offer them for free online.
When all else fails, it’s time to get crafty. This article from Expert Home Tips has some great crafts and hacks for coat hangers ranging from practical stuff – like unblocking drains, to creative stuff, like storing jewellery.
Books are a weakness of mine. I find it hard to part with them once I’ve read them. They just look so pretty on the bookcase! But they take up space, and if you want to buy new books, you have to part with the old ones.
Books are quite straightforward to sell. If you’ve got textbooks Amazon and eBay are a great place to start, textbooks tend to be quite expensive and some editions will sell for a lot of money. Novels are harder to sell because they are mass produced, so you likely won’t make that much money selling them.
If you decide to sell novels, you may make more money selling books as a collection than selling as singles. If you don’t fancy navigating the wilds of auction selling, there are plenty of companies that will take books off your hands in bulk. Most of these options give you a way to check how much you’ll make before selling, make sure to pay attention as you may only be offered a few pence for each of your books. There are lots of links to selling sites at the end of this article for you to explore.
If you don’t want to sell you can donate books to a school, library or charity shop. It’s always a good idea to check with the shop before donating.
Book swapping is a great way to exchange old books for new books. All you need to do is make friends with other readers and agree to swap books when you are done. I used to do this with about three friends and once a book had done the rounds we donated it to a charity shop.
You could also set up a book swap in your school, office, church or any other group you belong to. Simply put books you don’t want on a bookshelf and let others take them for free.
Books contain many adventures, but what if your book went on an adventure of its own? Similar to the book swapping option, Book Crossing encourages you to send your books out into the wild, only you’ll be able to track where they’ve been via a number of journal entries left by whoever is reading them at the time.
Finally, if you can’t bear to part with your books, make something pretty with them. Book craft projects can often be really stunning, these 35 creative book crafts from Big DIY Ideas are no exception.
58. Laundry Baskets
Those plastic laundry baskets you can get from just about anywhere are usually quite durable, but over time they get torn and worn. Because they are made of plastic they can be recycled, usually with your normal plastic collection, or taken to a recycling centre.
If they don’t have sharp edges they can be a great way to store children’s toys, towels or just about anything really. If you don’t fancy having a home full of plastic baskets here’s a great way from Red Book Mag to spruce up your laundry baskets for a classier feel.
Storage and laundry aren’t the only things you can use your plastic baskets for, check out this One Crazy House article for some profound and at times, hilarious laundry basket life hacks.
59. Watches and Pocket Watches
Are you guilty of keeping your old watches? You might not be able to throw them in your recycling bin, but you can sell and upcycle them so they don’t go to waste.
Branded watches like Omega and Rolex can be sold to Vintage Cash Cow along with any vintage watches and pocket watches, even if they’re broken. Because we repair watches and pocket watches where we can, no watch pieces go to waste.
More modern watches and unbranded watches in good working condition can be sold on eBay, though you won’t make much unless you have something special. Because modern day watches are mass produced they don’t usually have a high monetary value.
If you have a lot of modern watches in various states of repair you could try selling them in bulk on eBay where they’ll likely be bought for crafting or spares and repairs.
Watches in good condition that you don’t want to sell could be given as gifts, and broken ones (with no sharp edges or loose small pieces) can be given to older children as toys.
If you love your old watches and don’t want to part with them, try these unique watch upcycling ideas from Thrifty Fun.
You might not have thought you can recycle jewellery, but where there’s a will there’s a way. You can sell it, donate it or re-design it to make sure it never makes landfill.
Jewellery made from metal is usually worth money. Metals like gold, silver, platinum, brass and copper are all metals that can be sold as scrap. If you sell your metal jewellery as scrap it will be melted down to make new things.
Modern costume jewellery is usually made from plastics, it isn’t usually very valuable because it is mass produced. If you have a lot of it you can sell it in bulk on eBay or through other selling platforms. If you don’t fancy selling, you can donate your modern plastic jewellery to a charity shop or to a theatrical company.
Vintage or old costume jewellery made from things like bakelite, amber or semi precious stones or pearls can sometimes be valuable. Rather than donating it, send it to Vintage Cash Cow along with any other vintage clutter or metal jewellery for an easy way to sell.
If you don’t want to part with your jewellery, turn it into something else. Most jewellers will melt down old metal jewellery and help you to make something new with it. Enquire at local jewellery stores if this is something you want to try.
If you’ve got more modern or plastic jewellery there are 13 great ways to upcycle jewellery from Lifestyle.
61. Old Toys
Toys tend to hold a lot of memories, but they also take up space, they never need to end up in landfill though, here’s why.
Old toys can be sold. Very old and vintage ones can be sold to Vintage Cash Cow along with any other vintage items you have. More modern ones can be sold on eBay, though the normal principles apply. Any board games or toys that have been mass produced will be worth less money than older and more rare toys.
If you don’t fancy selling, you could donate your old toys to charity shops, local nurseries and toy libraries where they’ll be loved again.
If your toys have sentimental value and you want to keep them around, check out some of these great toy upcycling ideas from Mum’s Grapevine to bring toys back into use in your home.
62. Medals and Militaria
It’s hard to know what to do with medals and other military items. Some people don’t like the idea of selling them and others didn’t know they could. Here are the main ways to recycle your medals.
You can sell medals and other military items to Vintage Cash Cow along with any other vintage things.
If you don’t like the idea of selling, you could get in touch with a military museum and see if they’d be interested.
If you’d rather not get rid of them you can find some creative ideas for displaying medals on Pinterest.
63. Pens and Pencils
To be completely honest – I have been known to throw a dead pen or two into the bin, it’s something I’d never thought to recycle, until now.
Our friends Terracycle are back with a pen and pencil recycling scheme. The same rules apply, you can find a pen and pencil recycling location near you, or you can request a free postage label and send your pens and pencils in the post.
If you’ve got old fountain pens or propelling pencils you might be able to sell them. At Vintage Cash Cow we buy vintage fountain pens and propelling pencils along with lots of other vintage things.
There are plenty of creative uses for pens and pencils out there. Pinterest is a great place to start your search depending on what types of pens and pencils you have.
64. Old Coins and Banknotes
Lots of people have old currency stashed away. I’m talking about the stuff that’s no longer legal tender. Maybe you’ve got some coins and banknotes left over from holiday, or some old notes and coins you’ve inherited but don’t know what to do with.
Money isn’t an easy thing to recycle, banknotes have dyes and chemicals that make them ill suited to paper recycling, coins are made of metal, and while they can be recycled with metals, you could be missing out if your coins or banknotes are valuable.
You can sell any old and out of circulation currencies to Vintage Cash Cow for free, so this is a great option if you aren’t interested in keeping them.
If you’re good at origami and you’re sure your bank notes aren’t worth anything you could have some creative fun. This Buzzfeed article has some of the most amazing banknote art I’ve ever seen.
65. Old Cameras
Cameras and old camera films are usually made from a combination of plastic and metal so they are difficult to recycle.
If your camera is in good condition you can sell it on. Digital cameras in good working order sell quite well on platforms like eBay, old and vintage cameras (and their films) can be sold to Vintage Cash Cow.
If your camera isn’t in good working order you can get it recycled through Compare and Recycle. They offer cash for a wide variety of cameras from digital to point and click.
If your camera has sentimental value find a creative way to keep it around rather than letting it gather dust somewhere. Here are 10 great ideas from Crafting a Green World to get you started.
So there are 65 things you can recycle for world recycling day. Share your ideas in the comments, or check out the links below to start recycling and selling now.
Best places to give things away for free
A few times in this article I’ve suggested you can give things away for free on sites like Freecycle. Here’s a list of great free websites you can use to give your things away.
Freecycle – A community of people that give and get stuff for free
Freegle – Works the same way as Freecycle
Gumtree – Is a classified advertising website, you can list basic adverts for free
Craigslist – Is another popular classified advertising website
Facebook – Have a marketplace section where you can offer things for sale or for free
How to find local recycling centres
A few times in this article I’ve mentioned things you can recycle locally. Well you can Find a household waste recycling centre here. You can choose by those nearest to your location or by the materials you wish to recycle.
If you can’t get to a recycling centre, most councils will arrange a collection for large and bulky items for a small fee.
Sites you can sell on
There are a few selling suggestions throughout this article, here are ones I’ve mentioned more than once.
Vintage Cash Cow – An easy way to sell your old things, free, fast and easy.
eBay – A great place to sell clutter in bulk, there are usually fees and it can take a while to list things.
Music Magpie – A fast, free and easy way to sell DVD’s, Books and CD’s.
Amazon – Perfect for selling books and text books, there are fees associated and it may take a while to sell things
Ziffit – Another site that will buy CD’s DVD’s and Books, again it’s fast and free.
Facebook – has their own ‘marketplace’ section where you can list items for sale in your local area.
I hope you enjoyed this list of recycling things, want more great advice on selling? Check these out:
Or for a bit of light reading take this great article for a spin: