10 Surprising Items You Didn't Know Are Recyclable

March 5, 2019

By Lori Melton

If you’re like most people who recycle, you’re probably doing a great job sorting and recycling common items like aluminum cans, plastic and glass bottles, paper and cardboard. Any recycling effort is fantastic because it helps save energy, natural resources and reduces the amount of waste piling up in landfills.

What many people don’t realize is there are a lot of items beyond the basics that can be recycled to increase your eco-conscious effort and reduce waste even more. Check out this list of 10 surprising items you might have in your home right now that you didn’t know were recyclable.

Greeting Cards

Giving and receiving cards on special occasions is a great way to show people you care. However, once opened and read, many people throw them away.

A great alternative for used (and also new) greeting cards is to send them to St. Jude’s Ranch for Children. Cards are accepted all year long and they are recycled to make new cards as part of their program to help teens learn life and work skills.

Monies raised from new cards sold by the Nevada-based organization helps their effort in providing “a safe, nurturing home with therapeutic residential treatment services to thousands of abused and neglected children in Nevada.”


Laptops are constantly being upgraded to newer models sporting faster processors, bigger hard drives and better displays. Many people don’t even consider recycling their old laptop when buying the newest product on the market.

Per the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), recycling one million laptops saves the equivalent amount of electricity used by 3,500 U.S. households each year. Find a list of e-cycling centers in your state here.

Used Keys

If you change locks or install a digital keypad lock, you’re left with unwanted keys. Instead of tossing them out or shoving them in a drawer, you can send them to Key For Hope, a Massachusetts-based company which recycles old keys to feed the hungry.

Juice Pouches

Kids of all ages love slurping down juice pouches. The popular drink bags are not recyclable, however, due to the blended materials they are made from.

Fortunately, TerraCycle, which has become a world leader in recycling hard-to-recycle items will donate 2 cents for each Capri Sun, Honest Kids, and Kool Aid brand pouch received and one cent for all other brands. The company transforms collected pouches into purses, pencil cases, and other items sold at Walgreens and Target.

Apple Devices

If you have used or outdated Apple devices, like an iPhone, iPad and more, the company will take some of them in as credit toward a new device. Or, if a certain product is not eligible for trade-in, the company will recycle used devices for free. Check out Apple GiveBack program details here.

Hearing Aids

Giving the gift of hearing to someone is a priceless gesture. The Starkey Hearing Foundation accepts used hearing aids of all makes, models and ages and recycles them for those in need. Donations are tax deductible.

Prescription Drugs

Many people don’t realize how harmful flushing or throwing away old prescription medicine can be. Pharmaceutical waste can potentially can environmental issues if leaked into landfills. The U.S. Department of Justice Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) hosts a National Prescription Drug Take Back Day each year to provide a means of proper prescription disposal. The event occurs on April 27 in 2019. Check the site on April 1 to get a list of local drug collection locations near you.

Cosmetics Cases

Popular cosmetics brands have recycling programs for empty makeup tubes, compacts and containers. For instance, Lush offers a free Fresh Face Mask if you bring five clean black LUSH pots into a local store. Other companies like Kiehl’s and MAC offer similar recycle and reward programs.

Wine Corks

The next time you pop a cork out of a wine bottle, send it to ReCORK for creative repurposing. ReCORK is proudly North America’s largest natural wine cork recycling program. The company uses recycled cork to make eco-friendly products, including soles for multiple styles of shoes. To date, the company has collected 91 million corks across the country. Find a local cork collection center here.


It’s rather shocking that 50,000 mattresses reportedly wind up in landfills across the country each day. Thankfully, Bye Bye Mattress is looking to reduce that number via its mattress recycling program which is offered in California, Connecticut, and Rhode Island. The company separates the steel, foam, fabric, and wood in used mattresses and box springs so the materials can be made into other products including carpet pad, landscaping mulch and much more.