7 Things You Should be Recycling (But Probably Aren’t)

updated Apr 30, 2019
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Most of us probably keep our recycling bins near the kitchen and are pretty good about tossing things like empty cans, bottles, and cereal boxes inside. But we dispose of lots of other items around the house that we may not realize can be recycled, too. Here are some things that you can transform from trash to recycling, just by knowing you can.

Note that not all of these items can go into your curbside pickup bin. Check your local recycling guidelines and make arrangements for special drop-offs where needed.


Contact the manufacturer or retailer of your old laptops, DVD players, TVs, etc. Sometimes you can drop off your items to be recycled, sometimes you’ll have to pay a small fee, and other times they’ll even pay you to hand over the electronics you no longer need. You can also look for e-recycling events happening in your community.

Plastic Packaging

Think of the plastic packaging that your cotton balls come in, the plastic film on your pre-cut veggies or your post-pop bubble wrap. All of these can be recycled at drop-off locations for plastic bags — usually outside the grocery store.

Aerosol Cans

Many aerosol cans—including disinfectant, hairspray and shaving cream—can be recycled for their steel or aluminum, as long as they’re totally empty. Check your local curbside recycling pickup program to see if they accept aerosol cans (mine does).

Toner/Ink Cartridges

If you aren’t re-filling your cartridges and are ready to get rid of them entirely, check with your local office supply store, which may offer you rewards points or discounts in exchange for your cartridges.

Aluminum Foil

As long as it’s free of food residue, you can throw your used aluminum foil in the recycling (or better yet, reuse it).

Straws and Plastic To-Go Cups

Whether you’re at home or out and about, try to find a recycling bin for your empty Frappucino cup instead of tossing it in the trash — it adds up to a big difference. And plastic drinking straws are made of recyclable plastic, too — check to see if your curbside recycling service accepts them. Or better yet, be straw free.

Toilet Paper Rolls

These are obviously recyclable since they’re simply cardboard, but many of us toss these in the bathroom garbage can with little thought. If you’re not saving them for crafts (or organizing with them—seriously!), carry that empty roll to your recycling bin.

Lest we go overboard, thinking we can recycle allthethings, here’s a friendly reminder about things you should never recycle.

Becoming aware of the things you aren’t recycling but could be will increase the amount of things you recycle at home. To kick it up a notch, consider adding a recycling bin or two near your desk or in the bathroom.