Household recycling has become easier than ever. Many towns and cities offer free recycling pickup, and even private waste management companies are implementing recycling programs.

There are a number of advantages to recycling. It helps protect the environment by reducing the amount of waste and making it easier to reuse raw materials. But, recycling is also advantageous to homeowners who don’t want to pay hefty fees for trash pickup when they can often recycle for free.

One of the more difficult aspects of household recycling is the learning curve of actually learning what is and isn’t recyclable. Homeowners might think something is recyclable because it’s made from plastic, only to find out later that it’s a specific type of plastic that can’t be recycled. On the other hand, you might be throwing some items in the garbage, filling up your bin each week when you could be recycling it instead.

In this article, we’re going to talk about some of the lesser known items you could be recycling. We’ll also cover some items you shouldn’t throw in your recycling bin, and give you tips on how to tell which is which.

Things that shouldn’t find their way into your recycling bin

It’s easy to assume that just because something looks like paper, plastic, or glass, that it can be tossed into your recycling bin. However, that isn’t always the case. Look out for these items that may not be recyclable in your area.

  • Used paper food containers. Pizza boxes are one of the biggest culprits that end up in recycling bins when they shouldn’t be. Items like paper food containers, use paper towels, and paper plates are all soiled with grease and other food residue making them ineligible for recycling.

  • Those glossy drink cartons made from unknown materials. There’s a good chance that if you can’t find a recycling logo on it somewhere it can’t be recycled. However, a growing number of cities are accepting milk cartons, so be sure to check on the rules in your area.

  • Plastic shopping bags. Those flimsy bags that you get from the supermarket? You can’t recycle those. As a result, many cities and stores are encouraging the use of reusable shopping bags. If you forget your bags at home, however, fear not: many supermarkets now accept your used plastic bags to be recirculated.

So that eliminates a lot of common household waste from being recycled. However, there are plenty of items you might not be aware of that can be tossed into the recycling bin.

Lesser known recyclable items around the house

Even if something isn’t eligible for curbside recycling doesn’t mean you should just toss it into the trash. There are many items that you can drop off or donate. Here are just a few items that are likely sitting in your house right now:

  • Old cell phones and electronics. Our gadgets are becoming obsolete at an ever-increasing rate. That means many of us have a lot of old tech junk sitting in boxes in our basements. The good news is that several stores accept free drop-offs of old electronics for reuse and recycling.

  • Mattresses and furniture. Large items like mattresses and old furniture are a pain to get rid of. They’re also likely useful to someone out there. For mattresses and box springs, try contacting retailers to see if they reuse them for materials. Furniture that is still in usable condition can be placed on Craigslist or donated to a thrift store like Goodwill or Salvation Army.

  • Oil and ink. Run out of ink in your printer? Online retailers will often pay you for your old cartridges. Also, if you recently changed your oil, drop it off at an auto parts store to be recycling into other automotive materials.

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