How to Recycle Your Old Stuff

A quick guide to ditching your stuff in an environmentally friendly way

A quick guide to ditching your stuff in an environmentally friendly way

Do you have a cell phone, old desk or other household items collecting dust and taking up space? Each year, thousands of items are thrown into trash piles and landfills, creating environmental headaches for future generations. Before throwing unwanted items in the trash, let’s get creative! Recycle or reuse your old items to save them from the landfill, or sell them for extra cash. Help another family or local nonprofit organization.


Do you have old mobile phones, computers or computer parts lying around? If it’s not possible to upgrade the electronic device, look into places that offer buy-back programs or electronics recycling programs, where you can dispose of your items safely. Retailers like Best Buy, Staples and Office Depot across the country will allow you to drop off your e-waste. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) provides a list of companies with these services here. Sites like Cell for Cash and Gazelle offer buyback programs for your cell depending on the make and model.


Recycle your old furniture by giving it to someone who has a need for it. Donate your clean, good quality furniture items to non-profit organizations, such as Goodwill or the Salvation Army. Sell or donate your items to others on Craigslist, eBay, or local Facebook groups. Pass down items to family members or friends.

Construction and building supplies

Have a garage full of usable, but unneeded, building supplies? Consider donating items to your local Habitat For Humanity ReStore, or with your nearby Habitat for Humanity affiliate. The items are sold at a discounted price to help lower-income families, and the profits raised through the store help build homes.


Before pitching your old clothing, consider giving it a second home. Sell your unwanted clothing at a garage sale, or take your items to a local consignment shop. If you don’t want to sell your clothing, consider donating it to a local thrift shop, clothing bank or family in need. Or you can always cut them up and use them for cleaning rags. Have old tennis shoes? These tend to get used to the point where they cannot get used any more but, the Reuse a Shoe Program by Nike takes your old tennis shoes and recycles them into material to build new athletic playing surfaces.

Plastic bags

An alternative to plastic bags is using reusable shopping bags when you shop. If you do end up with extra bags, drop them off at retail locations that collects plastic bags for recycling. Can’t find a location near you? Check out, which shows the latest on plastic bag legislation and recycling drop off points.

Aluminum cans

Most cities have recycling programs along with your trash collection, and aluminum cans are usually accepted. However, you can go one step further and collect your aluminum pop tabs and donate them to help the Ronald McDonald House Charities Pop Tab Collection Program.

Hearing Aids

You can mail them to the StarKey Hearing Foundation, a nonprofit program that gets them to those in need. Or give them to your local Lions Clubs Hearing Aid Recycling Program. Both organizations have a similar goal of commitment to global hearing health.

Prescription Eye Glasses, Bifocals and Non-Prescription Sunglasses

You can drop off your usable eyewear at a Lions Clubs-sponsored collection box in your community. Typical locations include libraries, schools, community centers, places of worship, coffee shops, optometrist offices and other public locations where communities socialize and get together. For information specific to locations in your community, contact your local Lions club. Other drop-off locations include Lenscrafters and Goodwill stores.


Turn unwanted, used crayons into new ones by sending them to the Crayon Recycle program. Otherwise they will sit in the landfill forever. And don’t worry, you can leave the crayon wrappers on!


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