When people think of recycling at home, they usually consider materials like paper, plastic, and glass. It’s amazing. Really. However, many household items still end up in landfills, so their value is lost forever. We should create a more circular solution with recycling.

Before throwing anything away, we must ask ourselves, “How can I evaluate this?” If we still want to get rid of it, we should put it into suitable trash cans.

Moreover, recycling has its ecological problems. For example, now, most recycling ends up in the garbage. It’s a horrible reality. For this reason, the main idea should be to eliminate unnecessary consumption. 

Let’s shed light on recycling at home with 19 different items. 

Read more: How to create a zero-waste home in 13 super easy steps

Tips for recycling at home

Ink cartridges

More than 350 million ink and toner cartridges are disposed of yearly. Sadly, these cartridges take 450 to 1,000 years to break down naturally. This got me thinking about how to recycle them.

  • Many office supply stores offer refilling services for ink cartridges or may have cartridge recycling programs. They might even offer store credit or discounts for bringing in used ones.
  • Many manufacturers, like HP, Canon, and Epson, have take-back programs. They may even offer discounts. But, this campaign may not be available in all countries. 
  • Websites like TerraCycle offer recycling programs, sometimes in exchange for cash or charity donations.
  • Some charities collect ink cartridges to raise funds, sending them to recyclers for payment.

Before recycling:

  • There is no need to clean cartridges before recycling; just bag them to avoid ink leaks.

⚠️ Choose brands with recycling programs. Print sparingly to reduce waste. Use both papers. 


Recycling or upcycling any outfit is easier compared to other household items. However, it’s one of the most wasted belongings. Because of fast fashion, wasted clothes are now like big mountains.

  • Many charitable organizations accept clothing donations to resell or distribute to needy people. Contact these charities or drop them off in clothing bins. 
  • Selling second-hand applications is also a great option to make a side income.
  • Modify old clothing to create fashionable new ones. Use your imagination.
  • Turn old clothing into rags, quilts, or other craft projects.
  • Some municipalities or organizations have textile recycling programs.
  • Some retailers, like H&M and Zara, have textile recycling campaigns for old clothing, even if damaged.
  • Natural fabrics like cotton, silk, and wool are compostable. Make sure they’re free of synthetic components. Besides, cut them into smaller pieces before adding them to a compost pile.
  • Organize or participate in clothing swaps to exchange clothes.


TVs contain dangerous substances such as heavy metals and chemicals, so appropriately recycling electronic items is crucial. 

  • If it’s still functional, you can donate it to a school, a student, a non-profit, a local organization, or else. Reselling or giving it away on second-hand applications or Facebook Marketplace can also be an option. 
  • Many electronics retailers have recycling programs and may take your old TV for free or a small fee. 
  • Some brands may have take-back or recycling programs for their products. Visit your TV’s manufacturer’s website or contact customer service for details.
  • Many cities and municipalities have specific e-waste collection days or drop-off centers where you can bring old electronics, including TVs, for recycling. Check out your municipality’s website or email to learn details.
  • Look for recyclers certified by programs like e-Stewards, which ensure environmentally responsible recycling.

Before recycling:

  • Don’t forget to delete your details and data (for smart TVs). Perform a factory reset.
  • Remove any attached cables or accessories. You should also recycle them, but separately.
  • Always ensure you’re disposing of your TV through legitimate and environmentally friendly means.
  • Some services offer mail-in recycling programs if your location has no e-waste recycling options. While this isn’t the most carbon-efficient method, it’s better than the TV ending up in a landfill.

⚠️ If buying a new TV, consider energy-efficient, long-lasting models made by companies with environmental policies and take-back programs.


  • Consider donating furniture to charities or community centers if they’re still usable.
  • Sell old furniture on second-hand applications, Facebook Marketplace, or thrift shops.
  • Convert old furniture into new items or use parts for different projects.
  • Some municipalities have furniture banks that accept donations to assist families in need.

⚠️ Check local regulations because recycling processes vary by region.

Wine corks

  • Some wine stores or local wineries collect wine corks for recycling.
  • They’re excellent items for DIY projects, such as DIY bulletin boards, bathmats, etc. 
  • Crumble natural cork and use it as a mulch in your garden.
  • Cork, free of synthetic components, is biodegradable and compostable.

⚠️ Synthetic corks aren’t compostable. But they can sometimes be recyclable with plastics.


Emotionally, people may not be very keen on converting their books, but sometimes they have to dispose of them for various reasons. For a while, I wanted to get rid of all the belongings in my life and fit them in one suitcase. That’s why I donated my college books to the school library.

  • Consider donating to libraries, schools, charity shops, and local shelters.
  • Sell them online or to second-hand booksellers.
  • Join or organize a book swap event in your community.
  • If the book is too damaged, you can recycle it in your paper recycling. Remember, hardcovers contain non-recyclable materials, so remove them.
  • Turn books into art projects, journals, or other decorative items.
  • Use platforms like Freecycle to give away.
  • BookCrossing is a “world library on the move.” Label your book and release it for someone else to read, then track its journey.

⚠️ You should appraise some valuable, collectible, or rare books before deciding their fate.


  • Programs like The Crayon Initiative collect unwanted crayons, melt them down, and create new crayons for children in hospitals.
  • Melt down old or broken crayons to make new ones. Pour the melted wax into silicone molds to create fun shapes.
  • Use old crayons for various art projects, like melted crayon art on canvas.
  • Crayons can be used as a colorant when making homemade candles.
  • With proper research and safety precautions, you can use crayons to tint homemade lip balms due to their non-toxic nature. 
  • Biodegradable crayons are compostable.

⚠️ Before recycling or repurposing, ensure the crayons are non-toxic and safe.


  • Many dry cleaners will gladly accept any hangers in good condition.
  • Some organizations may appreciate hanger donations for clothes storage.
  • Consider taking them to a scrap metal dealer if you have a significant number.
  • Not all plastic hangers are recyclable. First, check for the plastic number.
  • Wooden hangers are excellent household items for DIY projects or crafts.
  • If broken, untreated wooden hangers can be compostable, but it’s better to break them down into smaller pieces first.


  • Charities, schools, or daycares often accept gently used toys.
  • Some hospitals accept clean, gently used toys for pediatric wards, 
  • Consider selling the toys online or on Facebook Marketplace.
  • Some toy manufacturers have return and recycle programs.
  • Local centers might accept if the toy is made of recyclable materials (like certain plastics). 
  • Use as planters or garden decorations.
  • Old toys can be transformed into art or decorations.
  • Organize or participate in community toy swap events.

⚠️ When donating or selling, the toys should be clean and work. If a toy is broken or too worn, look for ways to recycle the material or repurpose it rather than sending it to a landfill.

Pots and pans

  • Charities, community kitchens, shelters, or else may accept pots and pans in usable condition.
  • Consider selling online or on Facebook Marketplace.
  • If your pots and pans are made of metal and unusable, junkman might take scrap metal.
  • Use in the garage or garden shed for holding tools or other items.
  • Turn into art or decorative items.
  • Some kitchenware brands or stores offer trade-in programs where you can bring in old items in exchange for a discount on new purchases.
  • Some centers accept pots and pans, mainly aluminum or stainless steel.
  • Consider offering them to students for free.

⚠️ Before recycling or repurposing, ensure they’re clean. If the coating (like Teflon) is chipping or damaged, it’s better not to donate for health reasons. Instead, opt for recycling the material if possible.


Batteries contain harmful chemicals. For this reason, properly recycling batteries is crucial.

  • Many municipalities have drop-off locations or events specifically for alkaline batteries.
  • Some retailers often have collection bins for rechargeable batteries.
  • When you buy a new car battery, the retailer will often recycle the old one. Some even offer a refundable deposit when the old battery is returned.
  • Button cell batteries can be used in watches and hearing aids. And they contain harmful materials, so you should bring them to specific drop-off locations.
  • Some electronics retailers or other collection points may accept lithium-ion batteries.

⚠️ Before recycling, store used batteries in a cool, dry place, preferably in a non-metal container. 

Compact fluorescent bulbs

Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs) contain a small amount of mercury, so recycling them is crucial to prevent the mercury from entering the environment. 

  • Many large home improvement stores offer CFL recycling drop-off bins in their stores.
  • Check with your local waste management or municipality’s website for drop-off points.
  • If broken, avoid vacuuming, which can spread mercury vapor or tiny droplets. Instead, wear gloves carefully and scoop up the fragments using cardboard and tape or damp paper towels. Place fragments in a sealed bag or container, and take it to a recycling or hazardous waste facility.
  • If you can’t immediately recycle a burnt-out CFL, store it safely to prevent breakage. Use the original box or another protective container, and keep it out of reach of children and pets.

⚠️ Use LED light bulbs, which are more energy-efficient, last longer, and don’t contain mercury.

Shampoo bottles

  • Check out your shampoo bottle’s plastic number. Most are made from #1 (PET) or #2 (HDPE) plastic, which are recyclable. Click here to learn plastic numbers.
  • Consider buying shampoo in bulk using refillable containers or switching to shampoo bars.
  • If recycling isn’t an option, consider reusing shampoo bottles for DIY crafts, storage, or other purposes.
  • Some brands have return programs for their bottles or use sustainable packaging.

Before recycling:

  • Empty the bottle as much as possible. Rinse it out with water to remove any residual shampoo. Some recycling programs ask you to remove the cap because it might be made of a different type of plastic than the bottle. 

Aluminum foil

  • Aluminum foil is reusable for the same purpose or other household tasks. However, it’s unhealthy for wrapping or covering foods. 

Before recycling: 

  • Ensure the aluminum foil is free from food particles. Rinse or wipe off any residue. Dirty or greasy foil might be considered contamination in the recycling stream.
  • Small pieces of aluminum foil aren’t practical for the recycling process. They can get lost. So collect and compress small pieces into larger balls.

Plastic bags

  • Many grocery stores and retailers have collection bins near the entrance. 
  • Plastic bags can be reusable as small trash can liners for pet waste or future shopping trips.
  • Bread bags, produce bags, dry-cleaning bags, zip-top food storage bags, plastic shipping envelopes (labels removed), bubble wrap, and air pillows are recyclable.
  • Eliminate the usage of plastic bags.

Before recycling:

  • Plastic bags should be clean and dry. Remove any non-plastic materials, such as paper receipts or stickers.


Many old electronic devices have been sitting in a corner for years—it’s time to move one. Besides, computers contain harmful materials like lead, mercury, and cadmium. It’s crucial to ensure they’re recycled responsibly and not just thrown into landfills.

  • Many municipalities have electronic waste (e-waste) recycling programs
  • Some electronics retailers have free recycling programs for old computers. Some may even offer trade-in programs for store credit.
  • Many computer manufacturers, like Dell, HP, and Apple, offer take-back and recycling programs for their products. Check their websites for details.
  • If the computer is still functional but outdated, consider donating it to schools, non-profits, or community organizations.
  • Use certified e-waste recyclers to ensure environmentally responsible and safe disposal. 
  • Computer parts, like batteries or light bulbs, might have specific recycling processes. Remove and recycle these parts separately if required.

Before recycling: 

  • Erase all personal data—back up important files.

Home textiles

  • Some retailers might have take-back programs where they collect old items for recycling or repurposing.
  • If the textiles are still in good condition, consider donating them to thrift stores, shelters, or charitable organizations.
  • Turn old textiles into cleaning rags, crafts, or other DIY projects. For instance, old towels can become washable mop pads or cleaning cloths.
  • Natural fiber textiles, like cotton, silk, or wool, are compostable. Cut them into smaller pieces and place them in your compost bin. 
  • Many animal shelters welcome donations of old towels, blankets, and sheets for bedding and cleaning.
  • Some companies specialize in textile recycling, turning old textiles into rags, insulation, or even new clothing items.
  • If you’re crafty, upcycle textiles into new items like quilts, pillow covers, tote bags, or even clothing.
  • Organize or participate in garage sales, swap meets, or online marketplaces to give your textiles a new home.

Before recycling:

  • Clean and wash home textiles before donating or recycling them.


  • Lions Club has a program called “Recycle for Sight,” where they collect old eyeglasses and distribute them to people in need in developing countries.
  • Many optometrists and optical shops partner with organizations to collect and redistribute used eyeglasses.
  • If your frames are still in good shape but your prescription has changed, you can often get new lenses fitted to your old frames.
  • Some universities and schools with optometry programs might accept donated glasses for educational purposes.


Due to their mixed-material construction, umbrellas are more challenging to recycle. With a little effort, you can effectively recycle or repurpose different parts of an umbrella.

  • The fabric, often made of nylon or polyester, can be reusable. Consider turning it into a bag, a raincoat for a pet, or even a plant protective cover.
  • Metal parts of the umbrella can often be recyclable with scrap metal. Alternatively, the metal ribs can be repurposed into tools, hooks, or garden stakes.
  • Depending on its construction, the handle can be reused in DIY projects or recycled if made of recyclable plastic or wood.
  • Some umbrellas come with a plastic cover or have plastic parts. Check the type of plastic (often indicated by a number inside the recycling symbol) and see if your local recycling program accepts it.
  • Reuse the entire umbrella in creative ways. For example, they transformed into art projects, used as trellises for climbing plants or as a skirt for a costume.

Before recycling:

  • Separate the umbrella into its main components: the fabric, the metal frame, the handle, and plastic parts.