6 surprising things you can recycle

| November 21, 2013

You probably already know the basics of recycling – newspaper, cardboard, plastic or glass bottles – but next time you’re about to throw something in the trash, no matter what it is, consider if it’s recyclable. This might take some research because, as it turns out, there are many things you can recycle that might fly under your radar. Here are just six examples:

Running shoes

No matter how beat up or smelly your old running shoes are, they can still be reused! Nike’s Reuse-A-Shoe program transforms them into Nike Grind. Nike Grind is a material that can be used to create athletic surfaces, including turf fields, tracks, and courts. The program provides two ways to recycle your shoes: you can either bring up to 10 pairs of shoes to any Reuse-A-Shoe collection location or mail shoes directly to Nike’s recycling facility. Reuse-A-Shoe collection locations can be found at most U.S. Nike and Converse stores. Nike’s website asks that you contact the store before bringing in shoes. Shoes can be mailed to Nike’s recycling facility at 3552 Avenue of Commerce in Memphis, Tennessee.

Wine corks

things you can recycle

Cork flooring. From Nicolás Boullosa.

Recycling your wine corks is a great way to justify your wine drinking. You’re drinking it for the planet, not to drown out your sorrows! An organization called reCork grinds down and repurposes wine corks into footwear, building insulation, craft materials, sporting equipment, and flooring tiles. You can ship your corks to reCork directly or drop them off at one of the organization’s over 1,700 Public Collection Partner locations  near you.


Instead of sending your short-lived pantyhose to a long life in the landfill, consider recycling them. Women’s legwear brand No nonsense has a pantyhose recycling program that extends the life of pantyhose beyond adorning legs. The company’s recycling program collects used pantyhose and turns them into toys, park benches, anchor rope, playground equipment, and more (don’t ask me how!). No nonsense accepts all brands and colors of hosiery. For the mailing label, visit No nonsense’s website.


The National Crayon Recycle Program avoids sending unwanted, broken crayons landfills and recycles them into new crayons. Not only does the program stop 92,000 pounds of crayons from going to landfills, but it also employs people with developmental disabilities. There’s no preparation required prior to dropping off or shipping your old crayons, but the program asks that you leave the wrappers on the crayons because it makes them easier to sort by color.  The National Crayon Recycle Program also requests American-made crayons only, as foreign crayons may have questionable content. The crayons are melted down, remade, and resold. For more information about recycling your rejected crayons, visit the National Crayon Recycle Program’s website.

Golf balls

Golf balls generally meet one of two fates: they get lost in golf course ponds or they’re golfed to death, meaning they become worn out and visibly damaged. If you’re lucky enough to hang on to a golf ball until the end of its life, there are multiple ways to give them new life. One option is to give old golf balls to Dixon Golf in exchange for credit toward new balls. Arizona-based Dixon Golf stores accept old golf balls in-store or in the mail. According to Dixon Golf’s website, 300 million golf balls are discarded in the United States every year, enough to fill the distance between Los Angeles and London. Dixon credits $.50-$1.00 per golf ball turned in for recycling. The credit goes toward the purchase of a dozen new Dixon Earth golf balls. Dixon recycles old golf balls into playground equipment and artificial turf.

Holiday lights

things you can recycle

LED holiday lights. From Rainer Ricq.

Can’t quite afford new LED holiday lights? Got old, burnt out holiday lights? Earn a 15% off coupon for LED holiday lights from All you have to do is send in your old holiday lights for recycling. The recycling program runs from October until the end of February. The lights that are sent in go into a commercial shredder which chops the lights up into little pieces. The pieces are further processed, the materials (copper, PVC, glass) separated, and transported to a regional center for further processing. Ship your lights and holiday light recycling form, found on, and your coupon will be emailed to you once your shipment is confirmed. For more information, visit the Holiday Light Recycling Program page.

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Category: Recycling programs

About the Author ()

Katelyn is an intern at SmartSign. She recently graduated from Michigan State University with a degree in professional writing and specializations in public relations and nonprofits. As a recent transplant from Mason, Michigan, she is currently staying on her cousin's couch in the East Village. Katelyn looks forward to getting to know Brooklyn and eating her way across the five boroughs.

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