Household recycling has become easier than ever. Many towns and cities offer free recycling pickup, and even private waste management companies are implementing recycling programs.

There are a number of advantages to recycling. It helps protect the environment by reducing the amount of waste and making it easier to reuse raw materials. But, recycling is also advantageous to homeowners who don’t want to pay hefty fees for trash pickup when they can often recycle for free.

One of the more difficult aspects of household recycling is the learning curve of actually learning what is and isn’t recyclable. Homeowners might think something is recyclable because it’s made from plastic, only to find out later that it’s a specific type of plastic that can’t be recycled. On the other hand, you might be throwing some items in the garbage, filling up your bin each week when you could be recycling it instead.

In this article, we’re going to talk about some of the lesser known items you could be recycling. We’ll also cover some items you shouldn’t throw in your recycling bin, and give you tips on how to tell which is which.

Things that shouldn’t find their way into your recycling bin

It’s easy to assume that just because something looks like paper, plastic, or glass, that it can be tossed into your recycling bin. However, that isn’t always the case. Look out for these items that may not be recyclable in your area.

  • Used paper food containers. Pizza boxes are one of the biggest culprits that end up in recycling bins when they shouldn’t be. Items like paper food containers, use paper towels, and paper plates are all soiled with grease and other food residue making them ineligible for recycling.

  • Those glossy drink cartons made from unknown materials. There’s a good chance that if you can’t find a recycling logo on it somewhere it can’t be recycled. However, a growing number of cities are accepting milk cartons, so be sure to check on the rules in your area.

  • Plastic shopping bags. Those flimsy bags that you get from the supermarket? You can’t recycle those. As a result, many cities and stores are encouraging the use of reusable shopping bags. If you forget your bags at home, however, fear not: many supermarkets now accept your used plastic bags to be recirculated.

So that eliminates a lot of common household waste from being recycled. However, there are plenty of items you might not be aware of that can be tossed into the recycling bin.

Lesser known recyclable items around the house

Even if something isn’t eligible for curbside recycling doesn’t mean you should just toss it into the trash. There are many items that you can drop off or donate. Here are just a few items that are likely sitting in your house right now:

  • Old cell phones and electronics. Our gadgets are becoming obsolete at an ever-increasing rate. That means many of us have a lot of old tech junk sitting in boxes in our basements. The good news is that several stores accept free drop-offs of old electronics for reuse and recycling.

  • Mattresses and furniture. Large items like mattresses and old furniture are a pain to get rid of. They’re also likely useful to someone out there. For mattresses and box springs, try contacting retailers to see if they reuse them for materials. Furniture that is still in usable condition can be placed on Craigslist or donated to a thrift store like Goodwill or Salvation Army.

  • Oil and ink. Run out of ink in your printer? Online retailers will often pay you for your old cartridges. Also, if you recently changed your oil, drop it off at an auto parts store to be recycling into other automotive materials.

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If you’ve lived in your house for more than five years, there’s a good chance that clutter and disorganization is gradually taking over your basement.

While you probably had the best of intentions when you first moved in, that valuable storage space may now have deteriorated into a hodgepodge of scattered furniture, holiday supplies, old toys, boxes, and miscellaneous junk.

If you’re considering selling your house in the near future, straightening your basement will soon become a high priority item. Not only is an organized basement an important aspect of staging a home, but it’s a key step in preparing to pack your belongings and move to your next location.

As you’ll discover when you start sorting through your old belongings, there will also be opportunities to make money, save money, and help other people.

  • Finding old treasures: One result of tackling a basement organization project is that you’ll find usable, lost, and valuable things you forgot you even had. Whether something is valuable or pure junk, stored belongings have a way of getting buried and hidden away for years in basements. Once you start grouping things together and throwing away stuff nobody needs, it won’t take long before a semblance of order begins taking shape! The longer it’s been since you’ve organized your basement, the more satisfying it will feel to get it underway and done!
  • Money-making options: A well-organized garage sale can be a profitable way to get rid of things you no longer use or want. If you haven’t taken the time to pull out belongings that are buried, hidden, or boxed up, then it’s difficult to find what’s available to sell. When your stuff is already organized and ready to be carried outside, preparing for a garage sale is generally easier, faster, and more efficient. If you just have a few items you want to sell and don’t want to be bothered with a garage sale, there’s also the alternative of publicizing it on social media, classified ads, flyers, or word of mouth.
  • Donating to worthy causes: If you happen to have furniture, clothing, toys, electronics, working appliances, or kitchen supplies you no longer need, there’s also the option of donating it to charitable organizations, such as the Salvation Army, homeless shelters, or other community service groups. If you keep good records or get a detailed receipt from the charity, there may be the chance to deduct the donation on your tax returns. The best source of information on tax-related matters, of course, would be your accountant.

Whether you’re planning on moving soon or staying put for a while, taking a few hours to straighten out your basement will not only be personally satisfying, but you could make some money on the side or help underprivileged families in your community.

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