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10 Little-Known Items You Should Be Recycling - Quicken Loans Zing BlogDid you know that Americans generate more than 200 million tons of garbage annually? But the million-dollar question is how much of those tons could have been recycled? According to www.DoSomething.org, the average person produces four pounds of trash daily. Chances are, there’s a fair amount of room for each of us to recycle more and trash less.

Experts say that 75% of trash is recyclable, but we only recycle about 30%. To help improve this statistic, here’s a list of ten recyclable things that may surprise you:

Markers and Crayons

If your child’s drawers are overflowing with dried-out markers and broken crayons, this may be good news. Crazy Crayons, LLC has a national crayon recycling program for collecting unwanted crayons. Likewise, Crayola created the ColorCycle program so kids in the U.S. and Canada can mail their old markers in to be repurposed.


Most of us are guilty of pitching half-used paint cans after redecorating our homes. Not anymore! PaintCare accepts used paint, primer, stain, sealer, varnish and shellac for recycling. The liquids must be in their original containers and have sealed lids. PaintCare has locations across the U.S. where people can drop off unwanted paint and other similar items. You can use the company’s website to enter your city and state, and find a drop-off site. Visit www.PaintCare.org to learn about paint recycling guidelines.


Yes, I said HAIR! Human hair is a hot commodity because it can be used in the production of fertilizer and eyeglasses, and it can also be used to create dense mats used for soaking up oil. Many charities also seek hair donations; Locks of Love collects donated hair to create children’s prosthetics for those suffering from long-term medical problems.

There are over 300,000 salons in the U.S., and on average each salon produces one pound of hair each day. If salons actively recycled instead of sending hair to landfills, they would save a substantial amount of mass. Visit www.MatterOfTrust.org to donate hair to various causes, or donate to Locks of Love at www.LocksOfLove.org.

Cell Phones

Did you know that only 10% of cell phones are recycled in the U.S.? This is a disturbing fact, considering cell phones contain hazardous components and harmful metals. If you’d like to donate your phone to be refurbished and sold to people in developing countries, visit www.CollectiveGood.com. Or, you can donate your phone to a victim of domestic violence at www.DonateAPhone.com.


If you’ve recently upgraded and bought new appliances for your home, don’t put your old appliances on the curb for trash pickup! As the famous saying goes: one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Goodwill Industries will take your refrigerator, stove, microwave, washer, dryer, dishwasher and more. Donate your working appliance to Goodwill or give away your non-functioning appliances at www.Recycle-Steel.org.


This is no joke! If you have old or gently-used undergarments, then the Bra Recyclers want them! According to the company, 85% of textiles go to landfills, so they’re working to change this statistic. This Arizona-based company recycles bras, and reuses the textiles to reshape our environment and help people around the world! This company partners with various charities that accept their donations.

Prescription Drugs

Since 2010, the Drug Enforcement Administration has offered the National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day. This day is an opportunity for people to return unused prescription pills to law enforcement. It’s also an opportunity to safely keep old drugs out of landfills and the hands of children. Many pharmacies have drug take-back programs, which are used to collect unused and expired drugs at a central location. Learn more about these programs at www.TakeBackYourMeds.org.


Every home in America likely has a junk drawer with discarded keys. This may be a surprise, but your keys can be recycled at any recycling center that accepts mixed metals. Contact your local center to inquire about key recycling. Also, Keys for Kindness is a charitable organization that accepts donations to help raise money for families impacted by Multiple Sclerosis. The organization gets money for the scrap metal, steel and brass from the melted keys.


As technology evolves, so do our electronics, music and gaming collections. Remember when you had rows of VHS tapes and CDs on your bookshelf? Check with local recycling centers or electronics stores to see what items they take in.


Many people don’t know this, but any batteries that contain metal are recyclable. Most batteries contain lead acid or nickel cadmium, which are harsh on the environment. The more harmful the metal in the battery, the more likely you’ll be able to find a recycler. Battery Solutions accepts more than 15 types of batteries along with other items, such as calculators, pagers, electronics and power tools. Visit their site to learn about their 35-year history with battery recycling and to find out more about their process.

For other household things not mentioned on this list, send them back to the manufacturer and ask them to help reduce waste by communicating a recycling plan. To learn more about various types of recycling, visit www.Earth911.com.

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Where can I recycle empty prescription bottles — I remove the labels and would rather recycle than “trash” the bottles.
    thank you

    1. Hi Diane:

      Local governments often have prescription drug take back days. I would check your city or township website. If that’s not an option, the pharmacy may have some ideas on where you can take this stuff. I hope it helps!

  2. You need to update your page as Best Buy does NOT accept electronic media – at least not in Virginia. No CD’s, DVD’s, VHS, cassette tapes, etc.

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