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5 Things You Should Be Recycling but Aren’t

Just about everyone knows you can recycle paper, cardboard, cans, and bottles, but there are plenty of other items with the potential for new lives. Some of them might surprise you!

1. Shoes and Sneakers

Whether your favorite “comfy” sneakers are finally worn out or your kids’ feet mysteriously grew another size overnight, you can turn old sneakers into cash for charities. Sign up with GotSneakers today to collect new and gently-used pairs to give to those in impoverished regions who don’t have access to adequate footwear.

2. Exercise Equipment

You can finally stop feeling guilty about the yoga mat you never use or the soccer ball your kids abandoned after one practice. Sports and exercise equipment in good condition can be donated to charities or put up for grabs on sites, like Freecycle. If your equipment is broken or worn, see if your local waste disposal company has a special pickup program for recyclable items.

3. Crayon Nubs

Any parent with kids who love to color has at least one container full of rounded, broken wax sticks left behind in favor of new sets. Because they don’t break down, tossing used crayons consigns them to a landfill forever. The Crayon Initiative accepts donations of all kinds of old crayons, remanufactures them and donates the new sets to kids in hospitals for use in art therapy programs.

4. Christmas Lights

When you’re putting up the tree this year, don’t toss the light strands with bad wiring or too many burned-out bulbs. Set them aside, and mail them to Christmas Light Source for recycling. You’ll get 10 percent off an order of new lights, and all the proceeds from the recycling process are used to purchase Toys for Tots donation items.

5. Used Diapers

About 20 billion disposable infant and adult diapers get carted away to landfills every year, but a few innovative companies are designing ways to separate waste from usable materials. Canadian company Knowaste is getting started with a plant in the U.K., and other efforts are underway to make onsite recycling possible in hospitals, daycares, and other facilities.

Every item you recycle instead of tossing it in the trash makes a difference in the health of the environment. Don’t stop with this list; do more research to discover other ways you can reuse, recycle and repurpose items from around your home.

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