7 household objects you might not know you can recycle… and where to do it

Give yourself an environmental pat on the back by recycling these lesser obvious household objects

Most of us by now have embraced our household recycling practices. Some local authorities are better at helping us than others; issuing homes with a kaleidoscope of colourful recycling bins for various plastics, paper and food waste. Newspapers, milk-bottles and cardboard boxes are pretty obvious, but according to Envirofone, the mobile phone recycling company, there are plenty more household objects to recycle that you may not know about.

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washbasin with drawer

(Image credit: TBC)

Yes that's right. One of the most commonly used items in the home can be recycled. With dentists recommending that you change your toothbrush every three to four months, it is easy to make a difference every time you swap. There are different components of these products that can be recycled. The plastic holder and bristles have a variety of other uses when repurposed. Terracycle, the recycling company, offer an oral care waste and packaging program.

2. Pens

desk plan

(Image credit: TBC)

Got an arts and crafts box that you never use, filled with old and broken pens and highlighters? Then try recycling them for free with The Writing Instruments Recycling Programme, a partnership between Terracycle and BIC. Schools around the world are acting as collection points – after being collected, the writing instruments are separated by material composition, then cleaned and melted. The hard plastic created can be remolded to make new recycled products.

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3. Mobile phones

phone recycling

(Image credit: iStock / Envirofone)

Instead of clogging up space in your bedroom drawer why don’t you recycle your old handset? You could gift it to a younger (or older) relative or earn yourself a few quid for your trouble by trading it in on a phone recycling specialist websites like Envirofone, where 98% of the mobiles are reused.

4. Carpet

room with bookshelves and arm chair

(Image credit: TBC)

If you are planning on redecorating, make sure you don’t just don’t throw away that old carpet. Instead, find a carpet recycling facility near you to take it away for recycling. Carpet Recycling UK’s mission is a world where 100% of all carpet waste is diverted from landfill through reuse and recycling.

5. Makeup packaging

vanity unit drawer

(Image credit: Future PLC/Colin Poole)

If you're a makeup fiend, you know how little time it can take to use up a lipstick or mascara. Thankfully, brands like MAC, Aveda and Origins all have recycling programmes in place for responsible disposal. To make it even sweeter, MAC rewards your recycling efforts with its Back To MAC service where you can swap six empty MAC cosmetics containers for a new tube of lipstick!

6. Wine corks

wine corks

(Image credit: Future PLC/Lizzie Orme)

Turns out there is more than one good thing that comes out of a bottle of wine. Recorked UK is the UK’s leading natural wine cork recycling programme. Simply donate your used cork, and they resell them. For every cork collected, they donate a percentage of their profit to a nominated charity. Recorked UK also supplies free corks to various charities and schools for use in craft projects.

7. Coffee pods

filter coffee machine

(Image credit: Aldi)

Undoubtedly, coffee is a life force for many of us, and those dinky little pods can now continue their life after they satisfy your caffeine craving. Whilst the single-use pods used in many coffee machines are not usually accepted in your recycling collections from home, some coffee pods are collected by TerraCycle. They recycle them to create new products such as plastic baby bibs, notebook covers and park benches. Using Nespresso pods? You can also take them to your nearest Nespresso store for recycling.

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So, now you know and have an excuse to 'talk trash' to spread the recycling word...


Rachel Homer has been in the interiors publishing industry for over 15 years. Starting as a Style Assistant on Inspirations Magazine, she has since worked for some of the UK’s leading interiors magazines and websites. After starting a family, she moved from being a content editor at Idealhome.co.uk to be a digital freelancer and hasn’t looked back.