February 24th, 2014

6 Surprising Things You Can Recycle

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Groovy Green Livin Recycle

Do you recycle?

Recycling allows us to reuse materials, which in turn conserves natural resources. It also saves water and energy, improves air and water quality, lowers pollution and greenhouse gas emissions and preserves landfill space. The national recycling rate has increased every year for the past 30 years. The current recycling rate is about 34.7%. We can certainly do better!

There are many creative ways to improve our recycling statistics. Here are a few surprising things that we can all try to recycle.

Running Shoes

Nike’s Reuse-A-Shoe Program

Nike’s Reuse-A-Shoe program takes old running shoes that would otherwise end up in a landfill and grinds them down to create a new material called Nike Grind, which is used to make high-quality sports surfaces including courts, turf fields, tracks and more. Since 1990, they’ve transformed 28 million pairs of shoes and 36,000 tons of scrap material into Nike Grind for use in more than 450,000 locations around the world. You can drop off athletic shoes of any brand for recycling at a Nike or Converse retail store (call before coming) or mail them directly to the recycling center.

One World Running

One World Running is an international program promoting an awareness of health, fitness and nutrition by providing running shoes to those in need in the United States and around the world. These are the shoes that aren’t quite ready for the landfill. Check HERE to find a drop-off location near you.

Wine Corks

If you drink a lot of wine start saving those wine corks. Recork wants your old corks to recycle. Recork is North America’s largest cork recycling initiative. They take our corks and turn them into footwear or other upcycled products while also planting new cork trees. I just typed in my zip code and found a local drop off location.


What should I do with old batteries? I’m asked this question constantly. My response: don’t throw them in the trash. Single-use batteries contain materials that are both recyclable and considered hazardous. You can drop them off at a household hazardous waste (HHW) facility in your area or participate in the many mail-in or take-back programs that are available.


OK. Time to dig through those drawers and recycle your old bras. The Bra Recyclers, an organization based in Arizona, finds your gently-used bras a second home overseas. You can drop off or mail in your gently used bras and prevent them from ending up in a landfill.


Blue Jeans Go Green is a denim recycling program that converts collected denim into housing insulation for communities in need. Blue Jeans Go Green™ has diverted more than 600 tons of waste out of landfills and generated approximately 2 million square feet of UltraTouch™ Denim Insulation to assist with building efforts in communities in need. You can contribute your old jeans by mail or at participating retailers.


Stuffed into almost ever drawer in our house are a few crayons. We also have a big bin of crayons tucked into our art supplies. There are times when I’m tempted to dump a few crayons into the trash, but there’s good news- National Crayon Recycle Program operated by Crazy Crayons, LLC. The recycling program has diverted more than 47,000 pounds of crayons from landfills by taking old crayons and turning them into new crayons. Ship your unwanted crayons directly to Crazy Crayons or find a drop-off location in your area!

What strange or surprising things have you recycled? Share your tips!

photo credit: Rafa from Brazil via photopin cc


24 Responses to “6 Surprising Things You Can Recycle”

  1. Bras!!! Very cool!
    Lindsay recently posted..We’re all a little weird…My Profile

  2. This is such a helpful post, Lori! I just recently moved to Vermont from Chicago, and I’ve found that a lot more items can be recycled here – yay!

    Meredith recently posted..Affordable #MadeinUSA Wall Art to Spruce Up Your SpaceMy Profile

  3. Hi Meredith, Congrats on your move. I’m from the Midwest originally and love Chicago!Glad to hear that recycling is simple there. I’m surprised that VT didn’t have great recycling options?!

  4. I know- isn’t that great! I have a few in the bottom of my drawer that could certainly use a new home 🙂

  5. Love Recork and didn’t know about the bras!
    Stephanie @GoodGirlGoneGreen recently posted..Dairy-Free Choco-LatteMy Profile

  6. Wine corks? Well we certainly have a few of those around here!

    FYI – REI has a shoe drop off. I always save up old shoes and bring them over there.
    Micaela @MindfulMomma recently posted..Escape with Jewelry from Faire CollectionMy Profile

  7. Thanks for the tip on the corks! I had been saving all of mine after I had read you can grind them up in the food processor and use them in your potting mix. My food processor heartily disagreed!
    Becky recently posted..ExperimentationMy Profile

  8. Putting corks in the food processor?! That’s a new one Becky. Your food processor will be very happy once you recycle all those corks 🙂

  9. Thanks for the REI tip Micaela. We have one pretty close by.

  10. I know- recycling bras is a new one for me too Stephanie!

  11. Bra recycling? That’s innovative. Thanks for the list!
    Tiffany C. recently posted..Tristin + Tyler at the Kids Food Festival! #tristinandtylerMy Profile

  12. What do you do when there are no drop-off locations for the materials to recycle? I can’t afford to pay to ship things.
    Daniel Stull recently posted..Shooting Womp Rats, Episode 24My Profile

  13. Good question Daniel. What are you looking to recycle? Another great reference is Earth911. You can type in your zip code and hopefully a close drop off location will appear.

  14. I’ve seen recycled denim insulation and it is very cool. Not so sure about the recycled bra thing…
    Anne recently posted..What about Naturally Non-Browning Apples?My Profile

  15. Yep. Bra recycling Tiffany! Who woulda thunk?

  16. Ha! I know Anne. They do require that the bras are washed before donating 🙂

  17. Great informative article – learned that you can recycle a couple of things I would previously not have considered recycling ie. Bras and Crayons

  18. Nice article. Metal recycling is big question ahead of us. Approaching metal recycler’s will help to earn extra buck as well as it help to keep our planet greener

  19. Wonderful article I knew about some of the items but not others happy to see the post. I have been green since before the real recycling push started so am always interested in where I can recycle things. 🙂

  20. Great tips!
    Green entrepreneurs in UK, Sri Lanka and India are also using animal poop to make eco-friendly paper: http://www.business-standard.com/article/beyond-business/makes-paper-from-animal-poo-113021500679_1.html

  21. […] Vegetables That You Don’t Need to Peel 6 Surprising Things You Can Recycle Green Your Kitchen in 4 Easy […]

  22. I recycle junkmail into jewelry! https://www.etsy.com/shop/LaAlicia?ref=si_shop

  23. Very cool Alicia. Thanks for sharing!

  24. Most hazardous places no longer take batteries. Some Battery Plus stores take them but call ahead.
    Anna @Green Talk recently posted..Flooring Choices: My Durability, Cost, & Environmental PerpectiveMy Profile

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About Lori

Hi! I’m Lori, a recovering attorney, writer, and mom to three boys. Join me as I uncover and share the latest info on healthy living. Learn more.

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