Most people know about the four major recyclable materials: paper, plastic, metal, and glass. But did you know there are so many other items you could be recycling, too? Here are five unusual things you can recycle to boost your sustainability game.
Don’t throw your outdated electronics into the dump. Instead, recycle them! Electronic recycling has two main benefits: first, the electronics can be broken down into raw components, which can then be used to create new devices; second, it prevents toxic substances—such as mercury, chromium, beryllium, and lead—from seeping into soil and water sources.
If your shoes have seen their final day, you can donate them! What you consider to be “worn out” isn’t “worn out” to everybody. Athletic shoes and dress shoes are in high demand across the world. There are even some organizations that clean and fix used shoes to give them new life. If your sneakers are truly done, you can recycle them through Nike’s Reuse-A-Shoe program, which makes play areas and sports courts out of broken-down sneaker components.
If you have children, you probably also have a giant box of broken, used, and unwanted crayons somewhere in your house. Rather than tossing them to make space, consider donating them to The National Crayon Recycle Program, which melts down old crayons to create new ones. These crayons are then given to schools, shelters, and other children-centric services across the country.
If there is anything you should absolutely recycle, batteries are it. Batteries contain toxic chemicals that are harmful to the environment. Thus, they need to be disposed of correctly. Additionally, many types of batteries can be harvested for “critical minerals” such as graphite, lithium, and antimony, all of which play an important role in the national economy.
Unused and expired medications should be recycled not only to protect the environment but also to protect people and animals. Merely tossing medications into the trash can leave them accessible to curious children, pets, and the local fauna. Those suffering from drug addiction sometimes go through dumpsters and trash bins looking for pills, even unlabeled ones. While some medications can be safely flushed, others should be given to drug take-back programs.
The little things you do today have a big impact on the environment in the long run. Make sure that your used and unwanted items get new lives and go towards good causes. Donate what you can and recycle what you can’t.