electronics, batteries, clothing, lightbulb and beauty products on a table

Specialty Recycling

Week 2

Now that I've gotten a handle on what can go into my curbside recycling bins, it's time to find a way to recycle everything else. Here are a few things that come up fairly frequently in my house.

Plastic bags

Last week I learned that plastic bags and films should never go into my curbside recycling bins since they clog up the machinery. This week I learned that Target and Whole Foods Market have bins at every location for thin plastic recycling.

Electronic waste

Only 10% of global e-waste gets recycled, while the rest of it ends up getting landfilled or incinerated. E-waste is made of all sorts of harmful chemicals, so if it is mishandled during disposal, these chemicals end up in our soil, water, and air. Best Buy and Staples both take an assortment of electronic waste for recycling.

Clothing and shoes

According to the EPA, textiles make up nearly 8% of landfill waste. In 2018, The U.S. sent 9,070,000 tons of clothing and shoes to landfills. Add towels, sheets, and pillowcases and we're at 11,000,000 tons of textile waste. The North Face, Patagonia, H&M, Levi's, and Madewell all have some form of an apparel recycling program.

Old kicks can be donated to an organization like Soles4Souls, which gives gently used shoes to people in poverty. Or, sneakers can be dropped off at any Nike location, where they will be recycled into new material.

Beauty products

The beauty industry creates 120 billion units of packaging every year. Hair care, makeup, and skin care tubes and containers can be dropped off in any Nordstrom. You can also get a free shipping label and send them to a recycling program sponsored by Garnier and Terracycle.


Household batteries can be brought to Whole Foods and Ikea while rechargable batteries can go to Lowe's and Home Depot; both recycle rechargable batteries.


Since they contain mercury, fluorescent bulbs should be recycled in order to ensure that they stay out of landfills where they could contaminate the air, soil and/or groundwater. CFL (Compact Flourescent Lightbulbs) can be dropped off at Lowe's and Home Depot.

Automotive oil

Motor oil that isn’t disposed of properly releases about 25 times more oil into the environment than what spills from all modes of oil transportation combined. Used automotive oil can be recycled at Advance Auto Parts, Jiffy Lube and AutoZone.

Everything else

It's not a free service, but just about anything else you can think of can be recycled through Terracycle. Simply order a box, fill it up and send it back.

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