The 5 Weirdest Things You Can Recycle!

Bottles in Venice
Photographer: Lacey Williams | Source: Unsplash

Recycling is the need of the hour, given the terrible condition our planet is in! Man’s greed and negligence have ensured that many non-biodegradable items end up in landfills, releasing poisonous gases into the atmosphere for years. Then, there is also the huge amount of waste that ends up in oceans killing marine animals. If the accumulation of waste continues at the current pace, a catastrophe may not be too far in the future!

Recycling helps reduce waste. It also enables the conservation of natural resources and helps to save energy and reduce pollution. If every household follows the ‘zero waste’ motto, we can save the planet from ruin and ourselves too.

Almost everything can be recycled, including the following five items you never believed could be recycled!

5 Weird Things You Didn’t Know Could Be Recycled…

1. Crayons

The lovely bokeh in the background was made by hanging strings of colorful beads behind the box of crayons.
Photographer: Sharon McCutcheon | Source: Unsplash

Crayons are a source of joy to children across the world, but they aren’t as joyful for the environment as millions of small pieces of crayons are clogging up landfills.

Most crayons are made from paraffin, a petroleum product. They are recyclable, but not biodegradable. Instead of discarding used crayon pieces, you should send them for recycling because they can be repurposed into new crayons. The recyclers collect crayon pieces, sort them colorwise, and then add more pigments to enhance the shades. They are melted and poured into moulds to make new ones.

There are also many crayon recycling programs which collect used crayons and melt them and make new crayons to be donated to children’s hospitals.

You can also try DIY projects with used crayons. There are a hundred ways to reuse seemingly used crayons. You will be happy to find a hobby both for you and your children as well as turn saviors for the environment.

2. Wine corks

I saw this basket full of wine corks while walking by a restaurant in NYC
Photographer: Elisha Terada | Source: Unsplash

You recycle wine bottles, don’t you? What do you do about the corks? You throw them into the trash bin, thinking they are useless. Hold on please! Wine corks are made from tree barks and thus are biodegradable. As per reports, around 13 billion wine corks are sold worldwide annually. Even though biodegradable, if these end up in the trash, they will add to the burden of landfills.

Do you know that wine corks are recycled and used in many different materials? Recycled wine corks are used in flooring tiles in the construction industry. Insulation materials also utilise recycled corks, and so do automotive parts. One of the innovative uses of recycled wine corks is in the manufacture of sports equipment. The wine corks are also repurposed into shoe soles!

You can contact recycling organisations that specialise in wine cork recycling. Some food markets, too, make provisions for returning wine corks. You can also use them in your compost or make DIY decorations for your home or office. You can also make many creative items out of wine corks such as key chains, lampshades, and more. Some organisations also repurpose wine corks to make recycled home appliances.

3. BrasPhotographer: Pablo Heimplatz | Source: Unsplash

If earlier, people bought new clothes only on special occasions, today people are out shopping every weekend. Have you ever thought about where the old clothes will end up? It is estimated that most people dispose of at least 30 kg of clothes annually.

You may be donating or repurposing old clothes, but what about your bras? You will be amazed to find that you need not discard used bras in the trash, because there are organisations who have found ways to reuse bras. For example, the Bra Recyclers in Arizona, US have initiated a ‘bravolution’ to prevent over-burdening of landfills with used bras and also to find them new users in women survivors of domestic violence and other crimes. The only criterion is that the bras have to be gently used and they have to be wearable.

You will also be able to find myriad DIY projects through which you can repurpose old bras. Each part of a bra can be repurposed, right from the straps to the underwires to the cups. All you need is effort, some imagination, and the will to make a difference.

4. Eyeglasses

Transparent eyeglasses lying on a laptop.
Photographer: K8 | Source: Unsplash

You must be wondering as to who else in the world would be able to use your prescription glasses. There are many! Organisations such as Lions Club International collect old eyeglasses and repurpose them to donate to people in need. Some opticians may also collect old glasses to donate to charities.

Today, eyeglasses have become style accessories with trends changing every few months. People change their glass frames to suit new trends and in the process, discarding their old glasses into the trash. It is a crime, considering there are many in the world who have vision issues but cannot afford suitable glasses.

Sunglasses are non-prescription glasses, and they could offer someone the much-needed protection from the sun.

Even broken glasses could be reused. The different parts such as the frames, the lenses and even the nose protectors, can be repurposed.

5. Toothbrushes

Photographer: Anastasiia Rozumna | Source: Unsplash

Usually, a toothbrush can be used for a month or two. Even dentists advise against using toothbrushes for more than two or three months. It means every two or three months, millions of toothbrushes are discarded into landfills. Most of the toothbrushes have plastic handles which become a menace for the environment. They remain there, causing pollution and choking life for years.

The happy news is that toothbrushes can be recycled. Companies like Colgate have also initiated recycling of toothbrushes wherein you can return used toothbrushes for them to recycle. The bristles of the brush and the handle can be used for many purposes after recycling. During recycling, the nylon and plastic parts are converted into pellets and used in items that make benches, equipment in the park, and even picnic tables.

You can also repurpose old toothbrushes yourself. For example, use them as a cleaning brush, as they are very efficient in cleaning corners, small items, and also your jewellery pieces. Now, you also get toothbrushes with replaceable heads. It means once a brush is worn out, you don’t have to toss out the entire thing outside, but just replace the head and use it again. You will thus be able to use a single plastic holder for years.

Another way to be environmentally responsible is to use biodegradable brushes such as bamboo brushes. A sensible step taken today could prove life-saving tomorrow.

Close up of a recycle garbage bin logo at Pershing Square in Los Angeles, California.
Photographer: Gary Chan | Source: Unsplash

Similarly, there are many items that you may have hitherto thought to be non-recyclable, but totally are. Talk to a recycling company and find more about recycling dos and don’ts.

Remember, every effort you take for recycling and reusing, you take another step on the path to a better and healthier tomorrow!

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