September 1, 2014

3 Things You Can Recycle But Probably Don’t

If you haven’t noticed, just about anything can be recycled these days. Think about what items land in your trash can (and then the landfill, of course) and whether you can find an eco-friendlier home for them. Chances are you can — as long as you know where to turn.

recycle phones

Here are three commonly tossed items and how to give them a new life:

Foam Peanuts

Foam peanuts and other plastic-based packaging and shipping materials often get tossed, because they’re not generally recycled curbside.  If you can’t reuse them yourself, many pack-and-ship stores accept and reuse used packaging materials.

Not sure if there are any such stores in your area? The Plastic Loose Fill Council has a “Peanut Hotline” (800- 828-2214) that you can call to find foam peanut drop-off sites in your area. (You can also use its online search form.) You may be able to find a home for other types of plastics using the search form on PlasticMarkets.org.

Office Supplies

Used paper clips, folders and other common office supplies often get tossed in the trash with little thought. But many of these items can be used multiple times, if someone takes the initiative to save them.

If you have employees, set up a spot where employees can leave extra used supplies and encourage other employees to check that spot first before picking up new ones. Once you do need to throw out worn or unusable supplies, most of them can be recycled.

Personal Gadgets

Manufacturers of popular smartphones will often take back your old gadgets for free and make sure they’re responsibly recycled. (Apple, for instance, will recycle used iPhones and other Apple products .)

But other companies, such as Gazelle and NextWorth, will even give you money for old smartphones, digital cameras and other devices and pay you for them. Have a mass quantities of old gadgets to toss (30 or more)? Project Kopeg will recycle them all and cut you a check. (Keep in mind that some nonprofits will also take old gadgets and give them away for a good cause. You might then be eligible for a tax deduction.)

If you have a miscellaneous array of things to get rid of and can’t find a good home, check out Freecycle.org. This site helps match you up with people in your community looking for something you no longer want. (Also don’t forget about Craigslist.)

Of course, before you give away or recycle any old technological device, make sure to thoroughly clean the hard drive. You don’t want your personal or sensitive business information getting into the wrong hands.

Recycle Photo via Shutterstock

4 Comments ▼
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Kelly Spors


Kelly Spors Kelly Spors is a former small-business and entrepreneurship reporter and blogger for The Wall Street Journal who has also written for Yahoo!, Entrepreneur, NFIB's MyBusiness magazine and The New York Times. Kelly is now a freelance editor and writer based in Minneapolis and has previously managed communications for an environmental non-profit that helps businesses find ways to be greener.

4 Reactions

  1. Great tips, but ugh, recycling can be so complicated that it’s almost a pain to save the planet.

  2. While most things CAN be recycled, the cost to find where & how often exceeds the convenience of just pitching it. I know there are many items I’d like to recycle, but I just don’t know where to take it and don’t take the time & effort to figure it out.

  3. great article Kelly! It usually takes someone within the company to make the first step in recycling these items.

  4. E-waste recycling must happen to save our world

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