Getting rid of things in an ethical manner is hard, to say the least, but that doesn't mean it's not worth the effort. You just have to educate yourself about what can be passed on or repurposed, then figure out how to get it into the right hands.
That said, living a greener lifestyle starts at home, and recycling declutters your house, helps others and the environment, and it’s even a lot of fun!
So, what can be recycled, and what can be donated around the house? Find answers to these questions below, along with guidance on what to do with items you no longer need or use.
The Importance of Donating and Recycling at Home
Whether regulated by law or in good conscience, corporations and governments shoulder much of the responsibility for minimizing their carbon footprint. But sustainability is still, by large, a grassroots effort.
In other words, individuals and communities must do their part to make a difference. Once you see all the things you can recycle and donate, you'll realize how much you can do, right at home.
Being Kind to the Environment
Landfills are major polluters. They produce methane, carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses that contribute to climate change. What can you do to reduce this? First, know what can be recycled, and make sure it goes in the proper receptacle to be picked up by your waste servicer.
Thinking of Those in Need
Finding household items to donate does more than lower your impact on landfills. When you give clothing, toiletries, furniture, linens and other unused belongings to a charitable organization, you can pass them on to people in need, helping them as you declutter.
Bedroom Items: What Can Be Recycled or Donated
Here's a rundown of what can be donated and recycled in your bedroom.
What should you do with old sheets, duvet covers and pillowcases? While bed linens are tricky to recycle, you might be able to find a place to donate yours near you. For instance, the American Red Cross GreenDrop program takes gently used bedding, blankets and baby linens. You can bring these textiles to your nearest drop-off location or schedule a pick-up.
Are your sheets ready for the bin? Read our blog to find out How Often to Replace Sheets.
Getting rid of a mattress can be challenging. Not only is it cumbersome, but it's also hard to figure out who will (or can) take it. Donating might be a possibility, though many charities can't accept used mattresses.
One option is to list it on an online marketplace like Facebook, Craigslist or OfferUp. If you live in an urban area and offer it for free to anyone who picks it up, there's a good chance it'll be gone within a few hours.
Get more insight in our article, How to Donate, Recycle and Dispose of Old Mattresses.
Look in Your Closet
Your closet is probably a treasure trove of stuff you can donate, namely clothes, shoes, jackets and bags. Goodwill is a go-to for donating these items, but the organization usually can't redistribute severely ripped or stained pieces. The better shape they're in, the more likely they'll be passed on to a person in need.
Additionally, some major shoe companies now offer brand-exclusive recycling programs. In many cases, you can mail in your kicks so the materials can be repurposed into a new pair or recycled for another use.
Bathroom Items: What Can Be Donated or Recycled
Can you donate or recycle items from your bathroom? Here's what to know.
Cosmetics and Personal Hygiene Products
Unused shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, soap and lotion can be donated to homeless shelters, women's shelters and other charitable organizations. Depending on the size, you might be able to recycle empty bottles of used-up personal hygiene products.
Also, every time you open a new skincare product or makeup item, make a point to recycle the cardboard packaging. Simply keeping a recycling bin in or near your bathroom can prevent you from throwing the entire item in the trash.
Grooming tools can also be recycled in some cases. Preserve's Toothbrush Takeback program offers a $6 credit to its online store for every toothbrush you mail in. Additionally, TerraCycle partners with companies like Colgate, Gillette and Eva NYC on mail-in programs for toothbrushes, razors and hot hair tools, respectively.
We rounded up the Best Sustainable and Organic Bathroom Products in our blog.
First Aid and Menstrual Products
You can often donate sealed, unused first-aid items to homeless shelters, churches and other charitable organizations. You can mail in sealed boxes of menstrual products to I Support the Girls or Helping Women Period. Your local domestic abuse shelter may accept these items too. And TerraCycle has a mail-in program for recycling DivaCups.
While donation centers may not accept used towels and washcloths, you might be able to pass yours on to The Humane Society or another animal shelter. Churches and homeless shelters may take bath linens, but it's best to check the website or contact the organization before dropping anything off.
How Often Should You Replace Towels, Shower Curtain Liners and Other Bathroom Essentials? Read our blog for answers.
Living Room Items: What Can Be Recycled or Donated
Here's a breakdown of donatable and recyclable items in your living room.
Though it's sometimes hard to physically transport, furniture is one of the easier things to donate. Nationwide organizations like The Salvation Army, Goodwill and Habitat for Humanity accept various pieces, from sofas and chairs to coffee tables and bookshelves. If you don't have a big enough vehicle to drop yours off, you might be able to schedule a pick-up.
Another option is to list your living room furniture for free (or potentially for sale, depending on the condition) on Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist.
Our guide on How to Donate, Recycle and Dispose of Old Furniture has more insight.
Books can be donated to your local library or potentially a donation center. If they're very tattered or otherwise falling apart, you can probably recycle the paper components.
Blankets, Rugs and Curtains
The Salvation Army accepts a medley of household goods, including blankets, area rugs and curtains. You can schedule a free pick-up, bring them to a drop-off location or take them to your local Salvation Army Thrift Store. The Humane Society takes used blankets as well.
Read our article for more details on How to Donate, Recycle and Reuse Old Bed Sheets, Blankets and Towels.
Office Supplies: What Can Be Donated or Recycled
You probably already recycle all your office paper products, but you can dispose of old or unused office supplies ethically, too. For instance, many printer manufacturers accept empty toner and ink cartridges and often offer prepaid envelopes for mailing yours in.
It's against the law to throw batteries in the trash in some areas, so it's good to know how to recycle them. You can get a battery pouch or bucket from TerraCycle for mailing in used batteries. Do you prefer to recycle near you? Another option is to bring yours to a nearby hardware store or office supplies retailer, but bear in mind that they might charge a fee.
You can donate school supplies locally or to nationwide organizations like Operation Backpack, Level the Playing Field or the Kids In Need Foundation. If you have old crayons, send them to Crayola to be recycled through its ColorCycle program. Got pens? The Pen Guy will turn them into an art installation.
Miscellaneous Items: What Can Be Recycled or Donated
There are nearly endless items that you can recycle or donate around your home — it's only a matter of knowing what they are and what to do with them.
Wireless carriers will often take old cell phones and tablets. If yours is in good shape, you might even get a credit to use toward your phone bill or a new device.
Ace Hardware, The Home Depot, Lowe's and other hardware stores accept old (and even faulty) strings of holiday lights. The Home Depot also takes undamaged fluorescent and LED light bulbs. And TerraCycle has a Holiday Decorations ZeroWaste Box.
Speaking of ambiance, there are many ways to repurpose old candles, including the jar and any leftover wax. Prefer to just recycle yours? Remove the wax and place the container in your glass recycling bin.
For more tips, see our guide on How to Reuse and Recycle Old Candle Jars and Wax.
You probably know how to separate your paper, plastics, cans and glass recycling. But there might be a few other things in your kitchen you didn't know were recyclable.
For example, you can recycle aluminum foil right along with your cans, and recycle coffee pods as long as you separate the components first.
Even things like pots and pans can be recycled with a TerraCycle Kitchen Gear Box. The organization also has recycling partnership programs with manufacturers like Brita, Black + Decker, Calphalon, Solo Cup, Ziploc and Rubbermaid.
Parachute's Commitment to Sustainability
When you buy furniture, bedding and decor from Parachute, you’ll have the peace of mind knowing all items were sustainably sourced and ethically produced. To ensure trust in our eco-conscious supply chain, many products are independently certified by Oeko-Tex, Fair Trade™ and GOTSⓇ (the Global Organic Textile Standard).
As part of an ongoing commitment to minimizing its carbon footprint, Parachute is officially Climate Neutral Certified. And the first circular program will be introduced in 2022.
Shop eco-friendly housewares and textiles from Parachute today.