By: Kara King
Unless you're talking about ex-girlfriends or '80s haircuts, you should always recycle. Sure, you may feel good about yourself because you save bottles and cans and carry a canvas tote to the Trader Joe's, but the fact remains -- there are SO MANY MORE household products that can be reused and reinvented if you'd just stop throwing them in the trash. Here are a few such everyday items.
All those "Most Improved" player awards need to get tossed at some point, right? After all, Little League was a long time ago, and your folks didn't convert your old bedroom into a yoga studio so they could store your stuff in the basement for twenty years. Many recycling programs will break down your hard-earned, math-team accolades into parts used to create new trophies, that will in turn be given to kids today for, you know, "participating."
Used motor oil
As anybody who's ever changed their car's oil knows, you're not really suppose to dump it in the woods. And while motor oil shouldn't run in an engine again, it can be completely cleaned and used as fuel and to make petroleum products. Oil-change facilities like Jiffy Lube will often take used oil off your hands.
As everyone needs a little support, bras are obviously one of the most in-demand clothing items in the world. Never toss a bra into the trash without first seeing if it's in shape for The Bra Recyclers and organizations like it that donate used bras to those who need a lift.
If you still have any of these lying around (again, in your parents basement?), you should step out of the '90s and bid them -- as you did your denim vest and assortment of scrunchies -- a fond adieu. But wait, definitely don't throw these in the garbage; VHS tapes can release harmful dioxins if/when the plastic is melted. If you really care about the air you breathe, check in with an e-waste collection program or send tapes to Green Disk, which is a "techno trash" disposal company. Alternately, you can remove the actual film and send it to a special disposal company while recycling the case as you would any other plastic item.
Back in the Christmas Vacation days of holiday decorating, one bad bulb would ruin the whole bunch. If you still have these old strands of incandescent lights, see if your local home improvement store participates in a holiday light recycling program. The Home Depot accepted them last year and even offered coupons for your tangled mess.
Brita water filters
Preserve, a company that make products from 100% recyclable materials, will recycle the plastic of old Brita filters for you. All you have to do is follow these steps. In addition, Whole Foods often has collection bins for filters in their stores.
Credit: Flickr/John Morgan
Crayons break. Sometimes crayons break in the middle of your Kindergarten masterpiece, and you're forced to finish the sky with periwinkle, ruining the Valentine you were about to give your crush and by extension your life forever... but we digress. Broken crayons of any color can actually be donated. They will then be used to create new crayons that will bring joy to love-struck youngsters everywhere.
Just because you ran over that garden hose with the lawn mower, doesn't mean that you have to tell your wife and/or throw it away. Nope, it may no longer carry water but it does have life -- check out Pinterest for a bunch of ways to reuse a garden hose. You can even make a garden-hose chandelier to impress said wife with your master DIY skills. Just remember to replace the damn hose before she tries to water the flowers.
Credit: Flickr/Liz Jones
You should definitely recycle those crocs, like really. They've lived a good life. It's okay to let them go. Just don't give them to mother nature, because unless she's a nurse, she doesn't want 'em either. And those bad boys won't decompose. Instead, send them to Soles4Souls and help out somebody in need.
Unless you're still the guy who prints out all of his ESPN Fantasy Football chat transcripts to read on the subway ride home, most of us aren't doing a lot printing these days. But if you are, Staples will actually buy back old cartridges for two dollars a pop in Staples Rewards points. Which, unfortunately, you cannot use to buy Tyrod Taylor in your waiver wire auction.
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