Tips on Recycling the Weird Stuff

Do you know what can be recycled? There are a lot of things out there that we know we can recycle – cans, bottles, paper – but there are a lot of things out there that I’m sure you didn’t know we could recycle. Hopefully you all knew that you can recycle your old gadgets and gizmos – and your old computers!

But what follows are a few of the more unexpected items that you can recycle.

Wine Corks

Yup, you heard right. You can recycle your old wine corks – even the ones that you have in your crafts drawer for that unique corkboard project (that you haven’t gotten done in the past 3 years). Cork is actually a pretty expensive material – the cork trees are getting forested into extinction because of our desire to get tipsy on a regular basis – but there is one company located in Missouri, called Yemm and Hart Green Materials that will take your old wine corks and refurbish them into cork floor and wall tiles.

Snazzy, huh?

Or if you want to keep your corks close to home…you can actually get around to doing that DIY cork board project and find a use for all of those corks that you’ve been keeping around. Either way, put them to use!


This is a program that has been around for a while, but a lot of people don’t necessarily think of it when determining what to do with their old shoes. While you can go ahead and donate your gently used shoes to the Salvation Army and other charity organizations, what about those raggedy old beat up shoes that you wouldn’t want anyone else to wear after you? You don’t have to just throw them out into the dumpster – you can send them over to Nike!

As long as the shoes that you are sending are rubber soled, Nike will take them and use them for new athletic surfaces on tracks and basketball courts.

Foam Packing Peanuts

You know all those packing peanuts that come with your most recent online purchase – and you swear they do it just so they can send you a bigger box? Well, those packing peanuts no longer have to be the bane of your online shopping existence.

Well, maybe they will still continue to be annoying, but you can do something with them after they’ve safely brought your package to you. You can actually drop off the packing peanuts to people who know how to recycle the annoying stuff – they’re called EPS (expanded polystyrene) recyclers. And if there isn’t a program near you, you can actually mail in the EPS – a bit ironic, isn’t it?

But hey, it puts a petroleum-based product – packing peanuts – and finds a way to recycle them – that’s a good thing in my book.

A few of the other surprising materials that you can recycle include:

  • Carpet
  • Holiday lights
  • Roof shingles
  • Bras
  • Prescription medication
  • Flip flops
  • Potato chip bags
  • Panty hose

What out-of-the-ordinary products do you recycle or reuse in some way?

Jackie Ryan hopes that everyone find ways to pitch things into their Rubbermaid recycling bins and not the trash. How often do you throw things away that could have a second life somewhere else?

Photo credit: Flickr

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    1. That’s great Karen! I hate those things. I have recently begun recycling and reusing a lot more items than I used to – it’s really great knowing I am not just putting more garbage out on the street.

  1. I use packing peanuts in the bottom of my larger planters. Most large planters are deeper than the plants need, the peanuts help with drainage and the planters are lighter and easier to move around.

  2. I never thought there’s something we can do with wine corks besides being a wine cork and this is great. A great read and definitely another creative wy to recycle things.

    Thanks for this article.

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