It’s shocking how much can be recycled but isn’t. A London-based group, Wastewatch.org, found in a study that households in the UK are recycling more than 20 per cent of their rubbish on average. This figure sounds OK until you realise that over 60 per cent of what we throw away is actually recyclable material. Basic awareness and campaigns of what can actually be recycled from within our households will dramatically bump up that percentage. Recycling is easy, convenient, and more people will if they know exactly what can be taken out of the rubbish bin.

Recently, some local councils have proceeded to deliver a small black bin on to the doors of residents for food waste. Although sceptical about the smell and the hygiene of old food being stored in this way until the regular collection was provided, many have found it has quickly became an easy and hassle-free part of their clean up routine. It has made some people wonder whether anything was being thrown away that needn’t be.

And on top of the smaller, daily items, a lot of larger items also made the list of things that people may not know are recyclable. If you have just moved house, there could be a lot of items sitting about that you don’t want, but don’t know what to do with. If you’re also trying to clean out your garage or the garden shed, taking some time to know what can be recycled is a terrific way to begin the process.

Here are some larger items that can be picked up from the kerb by the local council. While every council has different regulations and allowances, most tips and recycle sites should be able to handle these.

  • Mattresses and carpets. While better-kept mattresses and carpets can be donated to charity, sometimes they’re in bad condition because they’ve been sitting in a garage or attic for too long. Instead of cluttering up a landfill, drop your mattresses and carpets at a recycling point.
  • Computers and other electronics. That’s right, computers are recyclable. More importantly, recycling computers as well as other electronics is morally imperative. The materials used in a lot of electronics are hazardous and carcinogenic. Old electronics that are put in with rubbish collection a lot of the time end up exposed in impoverished areas, and can harm adults and children who come into contact with it.
  • Clothes and shoes. While many know that clothes and shoes can be donated, not many realise that they can be recycled. For clothes that are old and torn from use, take them to your local recycling collection point instead of in your normal bin. The plastics in your trainers will otherwise sit in a landfill for, well, forever. Don’t let your old trainers clutter the ground. 
  • DIY and garden materials. Too many people just burn whatever weeds or bramble they clear, and the smell can be horrible, as well as the practice can be illegal. Some local authorities now provide special bins for kerbside collection. If not, you can drop it off at a recycling centre.

Finally, sometimes items are difficult to know exactly what recycling section to place it. So; before you start panicking whether to put your computer with the metals, plastics or another bin entirely altogether, remember you’re not alone. The people who work in tips around the country know where everything goes even if you don’t, so be sure to ask.