How Does Recycling Happen?

If you look around your home, you can usually see many items that can be recycled after they are used. Some examples include paper, cardboard, glass and plastic. But did you know that there are also many other items that can be recycled? Things such as batteries, furniture, computers and cell phones can all be recycled too. But you have to be careful about how you recycle them. Each of these items has to be disposed in special ways. Read on to learn more about how we recycle different things.


Asbestos is a material that was once used as insulation in buildings. It is still used in some places today. Asbestos is dangerous and must be handled carefully, with gloves and facemasks. To dispose of asbestos, consult a waste recycling center and bag the asbestos in a sealed bag.


Batteries contain chemicals that can explode and leak into the atmosphere if they are thrown into landfills. Instead, look for a battery recycling center and drop off your used batteries there. Another idea is to start a battery collection drive in your neighborhood!

Clinical Waste

Be very careful when you dispose of items like dirty diapers, used medical objects and other things that can be unhygienic and possibly hazardous to people’s health. Most of these items comes with instructions on how to safely discard them. Empty plastic pill containers can usually be disposed of with other plastics, or according to the bottle’s instructions.


Creating a compost heap is a great way to turn indoor and outdoor organic waste products into soil that can be used to grow plants. Be careful about what items you add. For example, you can use teabags, eggshells, raw vegetable clippings, leaves and manure. Never add things like meat, dairy products or dirty diapers!


Some electronics stores and special e-waste recycling centers accept old computers, laptops and printers. They remove any dangerous parts and then recycle the reusable materials. Another idea is to donate an unwanted, working computer to a center for families in need.

Electrical Equipment

If your household has hardware tools and other electrical items, they can often be recycled at retail electrical outlets or special recycling centers. If the machine still works, think about donating it to a used goods store or sell it at a garage sale.


If the furniture is still in decent condition, why not donate it to a charity store, the local community center or your school? It might even be sanded and re-painted to give it a whole new look! Even broken furniture can be taken apart and used to create something new.


Most U.S. cities have curb-side pickup services for common recycled items, including glass. However, some areas require glass to be separated from other items in case it breaks. In some states, you can also return glass bottles to a store and receive a refund of five cents per bottle.


Aluminum and steel are the two main types of metals that are recycled. Things such as pop cans and cans for tinned goods can definitely be recycled. Other metallic looking objects, like chocolate or candy wrappers, are not recyclable in the same way. Some machines in supermarkets are set up to offer a refund for any returned pop cans.

Cell Phones

Do you have an old cell phone at home that is unwanted or not in use? Many cell phone companies actually offer recycling services for their customers. There are also special cell phone recycling centers across the country. Alternatively, if the phone still works, donate it to a charity center.

Paint and Oil

Old tins of paint and car oil, as well as paintbrushes or car oil filters have to be discarded in a careful way. If the paint is still good, donate it to a friend or a center that can make use of it. The containers usually include instructions on proper disposal methods. To get rid of motor oil, take it to a local mechanic or garage. They collect motor oil in approved containers and dispose of it in the proper manner.


Before dumping paper into the recycling bin, think about whether it can be used for kids’ art projects or some other activity. Old newpapers or phone books are perfect for collages, DIY pulp paper pages and papier-mâché creations! Never include used tissues in the paper recycling bin. Another idea is to reuse the blank side of a printed sheet as scrap notepaper before throwing it out.


It is very important to recycle plastic since it does not break down naturally in landfills or the environment. Some plastics, such as pop bottles or food containers can be reused. Instead of buying plastic items, try to find enviro-friendly alternatives, like reusable bags instead of plastic bags, or glass bottles instead of plastic.

Printer Cartridges

When your printer cartridges run out of ink, you need to recycle them properly instead of throwing them in the trash. Many printer and computer stores accept used printer cartridges as part of their recycling programs.


Incredibly, around eighty percent of a car’s parts are recyclable! Many scrap yards offer money in exchange for unwanted cars or motor parts. If the car is still in working order, sell it or donate it.


Wood is a natural product and can easily be recycled. In the fall, twigs, branches and leaves can be bagged and left at the curbside for pickup. Larger pieces should be dropped off at the recycling center. Small amounts of wood, such as shavings or sawdust can be recycled in a compost heap.