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Bright Ideas · Green Living · Do You Know What You Should And Shouldn’t Recycle?

Do You Know What You Should And Shouldn’t Recycle?

Make 2018 the year you step up your recycling game!

One of the drawbacks of living in a small town is that we don’t have a recycling collection program. There’s a recycling drop-off location on the other side of town, but in the hustle and bustle of everyday life, it’s easy to forget that it even exists! But one of my resolutions for the coming year is to make more of an effort to recycle what I can. To get myself started on the right foot, I thought it would be a good idea to brush up on what I should (and shouldn’t!) be sorting into my recycling bin this year.

Related: 25 Things You Can Recycle You Might Not Know About

While brushing up on recycling, I learned about a lot of different things I can recycle, both at my local recycling plant and through special dedicated programs. I also learned about a few things that I didn’t know I shouldn’t recycle. I thought I would share what I learned with you today, in hopes that it might be beneficial to you with your own recycling efforts in 2018. Recycling is an easy way that we can all work toward a less wasteful future. 🙂

DO Recycle…

Milk Cartons

In the past, recycling centers didn’t have the equipment necessary to process these waxy cartons. But that has changed in the past few years, and now many recycling centers will happily accept milk cartons, broth and soup boxes, and other waxed paper products.

Plastic Bags

Plastic bags can cause jams in standard recycling equipment, but that doesn’t mean you can’t recycle them! Just keep them in a a cupboard or drawer until you have a sizable collection, then take them to a local grocery store. Most stores now have a dedicated drop-off bin where you can recycle your plastic bags.

Water Filters

Your local recycling center might not be equipped to handle spent water filters, but many filter manufacturers have their own recycling programs. For information on recycling Brita filters, see the recycling page on their site.


I put all my used batteries into a small box when I replace them. When the box is full, I just zip over to my local Walgreens to drop them off at their battery recycling boxes! If you don’t have a Walgreens nearby, check your local drug stores to see if they offer battery recycling.


Instead of sending your old mattress off to sit in a landfill, find out if the manufacturer of your mattress offers a recycling service. Recycled mattresses can be used to make materials for clothing, foam products, and more!

Prescription Drugs

Throwing away or flushing your old, unused prescription drugs can have seriously negative effects on the environment. A more environmentally-friendly option is to take advantage of local drug take-back programs. These programs offer a place for people to drop of unused medications for safe and proper disposal. Use the search utility on the DEA website to locate a disposal location near you.

Apple Products

If you have an old iPhone or iPad taking up space in a drawer somewhere, consider returning it to Apple. You can receive Apple Store credit or gift cards for turning in qualified devices. Apple will either refurbish your old devices to be resold, or recycle it. Get more information about recycling your old Apple devices on their recycling page.

Christmas Lights

If you’ve been considering upgrading to new Christmas lights, you can send your old ones in to HolidayLEDs to be recycled. In return, you’ll receive a coupon for 15% off anything on their site, so you can get a great deal on new energy efficient lights! The program is available year-round, and you can get more information on the HolidayLEDs website.


You can take your old eyeglasses to be recycled at many major eyewear retailers, including LensCrafters, Sears Optical, and Pearle Vision.

DO NOT Recycle…


Unless your recycling center has a program for processing bricks or concrete, they generally won’t be able to accept ceramics (like mugs, plates, bowls, etc.) If your old ceramics aren’t broken, consider donating them.

Spray Bottle Parts

When it comes to spray bottles, the bottle itself is generally recyclable. However, the sprayer mechanism usually has a metal spring inside that could cause problems. Remove the sprayer from the bottle before putting it in your recycling bin, and either toss out the sprayer or keep it for future use!

Polystyrene Containers

You probably know these containers by the brand name Styrofoam. A lot of restaurants have switched over to compostable food containers, but a lot of places still use polystyrene containers. These containers are technically recyclable, but the programs that accept them are often hard to find.

Small Items

The problem with small items (even when they are recyclable materials) is that they tend to slip right through the recycling machines and end up in the landfill. In order to make sure those items get recycled, bunch them up together or place them inside other items.

Shrink Sleeves

A lot of store-bought food items have labels called “shrink sleeves” that are perfectly shaped to the bottle or carton. Shrink sleeve labels are not recyclable, so make sure to tear or cut them off your containers before you put them in your recycling bin.

Broken Glass

Glass is recyclable, but broken glass can pose a danger for the people who sort and handle glass at recycling centers. If you have broken glass, put it in a paper bag and toss it out rather than recycling it.

If you’d like even more information on what to recycle and how to do it, How2Recycle is an excellent resource!

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    Hi, I’m Jillee!

    I believe we should all love the place we call home and the life we live there. Since 2011, I’ve been dedicated to making One Good Thing by Jillee a reliable and trustworthy resource for modern homemakers navigating the everyday challenges of running a household. Join me as I share homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make life easier so you can enjoy it more!

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