Recycle10 Surprising Things You can recycle


Recycling these days can be a minefield. We have all the different bins and the different rules, so it’s little wonder that sometimes we just throw anything we aren’t sure about in the bin.

When we think of recycling, we think about paper, tins and plastic. But there’s so many things we can recycle. Not all the things we don’t use have to end up in landfill. Here’s a list of 10 things you might not have realised you could recycle. Give it a go and give others and the environment a helping hand.

1. Computers

Computers and other electronics make up a lot of the waste in the UK. Gadgets are cheaper and technology advances so quickly so we replace them a lot more often. It’s important to dispose of this type of waste properly, as computers contain a lot of materials that are considered hazardous waste, such as lead. Legislation was introduced in 2007 which requires you to prove that you have disposed of electronic waste correctly. You can return electronics to the manufacturer, take them to a proper waste disposal site or, if they are still in good working order, donate them to charity.  

2. Batteries

Batteries are hazardous waste so they should always be recycled. Rechargeable batteries should be returned to the manufacturer or to a proper disposal site as they contain toxic metals. Check with your local council to see if they run a disposal scheme. Choose rechargeable batteries where possible as they can be recharged hundreds of times and so battery recyclingproduce less waste.

3. Inkjet Cartridges

Millions of people in the UK own a computer, and most of them have printers. If you consider that the average home computer user gets through 2-3 cartridges per year, plus the fact that offices will get through many more, you will realise just how many cartridges are sold in the UK. The cartridges are made of a material that can take 1000 years to degrade, so you can see that this is bad news for the environment if they end up in landfill. Recycling the cartridges properly, either by taking them to a proper disposal site or returning them to the manufacturer can help the environment, but not only that, cartridges made from recycled cartridge components are often cheaper so it’s kinder on your pocket too.

4. Mobile phones

Almost everyone has a mobile phone nowadays. Technology moves on fast though and we can upgrade frequently. This means we can be left with a drawer full of old phones. But they can be recycled. Give them to friends or family or donate them to charity if they are still in good working order. Sometimes phone manufacturers will accept old handsets back for recycling, and there are schemes where you can be paid money for your old phone. Envirofone pays you for recycling your old phone and how much money you make is dependent on the make and model.

5. Clothes

We can buy clothes quite cheaply these days, but a lot of these cheaper clothes don’t tend to last long. The quality might not be so good or fashion might change, and suddenly our wardrobes are bursting at the seams with items we don’t want. You clothes recyclingcan recycle clothes both at home and at local recycling banks. If the clothes are still wearable, donate them to a charity shop or a jumble sale. If not, you can reuse them as household cloths or fabric for cushions or quilts.

6. Shoes

If your shoes look old, worn and dirty, you can recycle them at a designated shoe recycling station, provided by most local councils. Charity shops accept shoes that are clean and in good condition.

7. Engine oil

If engine oil is not recycled properly this is bad news for the environment. A campaign was set up in Scotland and Northern Ireland, where oil is widely used to power generators for energy, to help people recycle and dispose of their oil safely. The UK has oil banks for engine oil, but not for cooking oil, thinners or chemicals.  

8. Paint

Paint can be very toxic to the environment, so it should be disposed of correctly. Paint should never be poured down a drain. If you have paint you don’t need you can give it to friends or family, especially if it’s a widely-used colour like magnolia or shades of white. There is a scheme across the UK called Community RePaint, where you can donate paint to people who can’t afford it.

9. Bicycles

If your bike is no longer in working order, it can be recycled for scrap instead of just thrown in the trash. A bike that simply needs a bit of tender loving care can either be refurbished by a second-hand bike shop or if you’re feeling handy you can do it yourself and donate it to someone in need.

10. Christmas Treestree

Many local council rubbish tips will recycle your old Christmas tree to make woodchips to cover the ground in local parks. There are a few ingenious things you can do with the materials from your Christmas tree. The needles make great pin cushion stuffing and they are a good addition to a compost heap.

So, before you throw something out, think. Can this be recycled, reused or donated? One man’s rubbish is another man’s treasure as they say!