Aerosols – Empty canisters can be put in council recycling bags and in the recycling bins. Or they can be taken to recycling centers, and the cans can be stored for a long time – there is no need to throw out a half full can, even if you haven’t used it in a while.
Books – If in good condition, donate your books to the library, drop at a local charity shop, pass them to a friend of attend, or even hold a book swap. Alternatively sell them online on sites such as www.greenmetropolis.com
Batteries – Since February 2010, shops selling more than 32kg of portable batteries per year including over the internet, have to offer battery recycling facilities in their store.
Cans – Recycling one aluminium can saves enough energy to listen to a full album on your iPod. Recycling 100 cans could light your bedroom for two whole weeks.
Clothes – Take your unwanted clothes to a local charity shop, or recycle them through one of the council textile recycle banks. Even damaged items will be put to good use as they will be shredded and made into clothes or used for furniture stuffing. Alternatively sell them online or donate via www.freecycle.org. There are charities that accept smart clothing to help people on low incomes in their job hunt such as www.smartworks.org.uk. Some shops, including H&M and M&S collect pre-loved clothes in-store. If you donate an item of M&S clothing to Oxfam you’ll receive a voucher for £5 off your next £35 purchase at M&S. Or why not organise a clothes swap.
DVDs and CDs – For those of you who have swapped the DVD for the download and have found yourself with a heap of unwanted films or music. there are many places where you can offload these. Aside from donating them to your local charity shop, or selling them on sites like www.musicmagpie.co.uk you could also get creative with them. If you’re a keen gardener you could hang some in your vegetable patch – the light reflections frighten off the birds. Alternatively you could cut them up and make a mosaic photo frame with them.
Electronic games and toys – If in good condition, donate to another family or sell them on local children forums. If they are irreparable they can be taken to your local reuse and recycling centre.
Food waste – We generate 21.5 million tons of food waste each year. If we composted that food, it would reduce the same amount of greenhouse gas as taking 2 million cars off the road. First up reduce the amount you waste by planning your meals and writing dates on all packaging you open so you don’t get confused as to when you opened something leading you to unnecessarily discard any that is left. The website: www.lovefoodhatewaste.com will help you plan, which will save you money. Some councils provide composters or womeries, which are ideal for people living in flats or those who have little or no garden waste.
Furniture – Try www.freecycle.org and find somebody to take your unwanted furniture to save you throwing it away. Alternatively try the Furniture Reuse Network – a national body, which takes unwanted furniture and items and passes it into community groups in the UK. If all else fails take your items to the local recycling centre.
Garden waste – Some councils provide a special bin for your garden waste as part of your household collection scheme. However if you have a garden make sure you can’t first use it on a compost.
Hangers – Some dry cleaners will take them. Charity shops too. Some larger supermarkets with clothing departments have hanger recycling bins.
IPods – Try selling these through eBay or offer via a local forum. If you have an Apple product and take your item back to the store you can receive a discount off your next purchase. Check out their Apple Recycling Scheme
Jewellery – Try repairing it first. Costume jewellery can be great for a child’s dressing up box. Or donate to your local charity shop, or sell online. Some broken jewellery can be re-threaded to make new jewellery; a joy for many children! Alternatively search online for organisations like ‘Recycling for good causes’ who accept jewellery and watches (regardless of the condition) for re-sale/recycling to raise funds for national charities and local groups such as scouts and brownies.
Keys – If your local charity shop won’t take them, there are a number of things you can make with keys including: wind chimes, jewellery, or a favourite – a plump bob (otherwise known as a piece of string with a key at the end, which when hanging down allows you to ensure wallpaper, units, or curtains or also hanging perfectly evenly).
Lightbulbs – All new style lightbulbs can be recycled. Visit www.recolight.co.uk and enter your postcode to find the nearest collection point to you. The glass from old style bulbs is different to that of bottles and jars so they are not recyclable – throw them away in your general waste
Magazines – These can be great for creative projects – from making cards and even envelopes to creating your own style boards. Otherwise donate them to your local nursing home or doctors office or even a school, nursery may welcome them. If the schools don’t use them for creative projects the teachers often like something other than text books to read in their staff room.
Nappies – Disposable nappies are extremely difficult to recycle and need to go in your rubbish bin. Almost 3 billion nappies each year go to landfill. Alternatively use cloth nappies yet when your child no longer needs them, consider passing them on so they can benefit other families.
Organising your recycling – If you haven’t already sort your rubbish into separate bins or special recycling plastic coated bags. The latter may enable you to more easily carry items to the recycling plant. Get in to the habit of planning what you buy, using everything you have and recycling those things you don’t need. You’ll end up saving time, money and space.
Paper – Two-thirds of paper is recycled, making it one of the main materials recycled in the UK.
Plastic bags – Ever find you’ve got more plastic bags than you need? Re-use your bags and when out shopping decline bags if you can squeeze your items into a bag you’re already carrying. Always carry a plastic bag or reusable bag in your handbag and keep some in the car. Failing that, use them as bin bags.
Quilts and pillows – Always try www.freecycle.org.uk or you could cut it up and use it as a draft excluder for the door. Or you could put it on top of your mattress to provide an extra soft layer and a bit of extra heat in the winter. You could make a bed for a pet and could even keep it to use for the garden when the summer arrives. There are also charities that would accept them – Google homeless charities or even animal sanctuaries, close to where you live.
Rugs and carpets – Try www.freecycle.org.uk or donate them to a local charity shop. You could also try selling it on eBay or Gumtree or put an ad in a local shop window. Ask family and friends who could need a spare piece of carpet. Local gardeners or gardening groups may also be interested in using your old carpet as it could be useful for insulating compost heaps, keeping weeds at bay on vegetable pots and on paths. Wool rich carpets and rugs also make a very good mulch. And if you’re building a garden pond, use old carpet to line it before you put the pond liner in – it protects the liner from sharp stones. Another idea is to cut it to size and use it to protect your car windscreen from frost. Often shops will offer to take away your old carpet when they fit your new one.
Swaps events – Many councils organise swap events, which provide an opportunity for you to take along clean, reusable items you no longer want and take away something for yourself – for free! Online organisations such as www.swishing.com organise clothes swap events.
TerraCycle – TerraCycle is a highly-awarded, interational upcycling and recycling company that collects difficult-to-recycle packaging and products and repurposes it into affordable, innovative products. TerraCycle offers national programmes (“Brigades”) to collect a variety of products. Currently, all programmes offer free postage as well as a donation for each piece of waste that you collect
Unwanted mail – Cut down on the amount of junk you receive by removing yourself from the junk mailing list with the mailing preference service.
Vinyl – You may be surprised to know that some vinyl can fetch up to £8,000. There are quite a lot of online companies and specialist shops who will buy vinyl. Otherwise, donate to charity shops or sell at boot fairs.
Wood – All wood and timber including MDF, plywood, chipboard etc can be recycled at most local recycling plants. Consider offering it through www.freecycle.org – there may well be somebody who is in need of exactly what you are getting rid of.
Xmas lights – If they are still working donate them via www.freecycle.org.uk or to a local charity.
Yoghurt pots – Increasingly plastic packaging such as pots, tubs and trays are being accepted as part of household recycling schemes. However these do vary across the country. Make sure you give them a quick rinse using your left-over washing up water, squash or flatten where apporpriate and d not include plastic film or clingfilm.
Zealous – Be enthusiastic about recycling and inspire others (well I had to include the ‘Z’!).