10 Things in Your Kitchen You Didn’t Know You Could Reuse or Recycle

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When you think about recycling in the kitchen, the first things to pop in your mind are probably the basics: aluminum cans, paperboard, cartons and glass jars. These items are accepted in most curbside programs, making them rather easy to recycle.

What you may not realize, however, is that your kitchen is probably filled with other recyclable items. Let’s take a look at 10 unusual kitchen items you can reuse or recycle.

1. Pots and Pans

If treated well, most cookware will last years without issue. If you decide to replace your cookware before the end of its useful life, you can give it away, sell it or donate it to one of the many resale centers like Goodwill.

But when the fateful day comes that your cookware needs to be retired, you’ll want to look for a local recycling option. Most cookware is made from nonferrous metal (aluminum, copper and stainless steel) and can be recycled at a general scrap metal recycler. Nonstick pans are a bit trickier. If you want to recycle one, I recommend reading this article that dives deeper into the subject.

2. Utensils

After my grandparents passed away, we needed to clean out their home. As I went through the kitchen, I discovered the sheer volume of silverware they had, none of which seemed to match.

Just like cookware, if the silverware is in good condition, most donation centers will accept it. If you’re the crafty type, there are numerous projects you can do to give your silverware an extended life. If, however, it’s time for retirement, you can take your silverware to a local scrap yard and they should accept it for recycling.

3. Tupperware

If you still have Tupperware or other plastic food storage containers in your home, these should definitely be recycled once you’re done with them. While many companies have started printing recycling symbols on their new plastic food storage containers, if you have old containers, they may not have a symbol.

The best thing to do in that case is reach out to the manufacturer and see if they can help you figure it out. Once you find out what plastic number it is, you can search for a recycling location in your area. When you decide to replace your plastic food storage containers, here are a few more-sustainable options you can choose from.

4. Corks

Cork is an incredibly sustainable material. It’s made from tree bark, which doesn’t harm the tree when removed. These cork trees can live up to 300 years, and the bark can be harvested every nine to 12 years.

Most people end up with cork in their kitchen from wine bottles, but there are also cork cutting boards, coasters and bulletin boards. If you love DIY projects, there are numerous cork upcycling projects. If DIYing isn’t your thing, you can use the Earth911 recycling search to find a location in your area that will accept the cork for recycling.

5. Cooking Oil

When it comes to recycling, cooking oil can get a bit more difficult. After cooking, collect the used oil in a designated container. Large metal cans work great. Continue to add oil to this container, over time, until it’s full.

Once the container is full, use the recycling search to look for a location in your area. If none exists, call your city or fire department to see if they collect it. If they don’t, you can seal the container and dispose of it in the trash.

6. Cupboards

While cupboards may sound like an odd item to have on the list, there are many people who remodel their kitchen and just toss everything in the trash. Cupboards, particularly cupboard doors, can be removed without damage and then reused, sold, or donated to someone else who can refinish them and get new life out of them in their own kitchen. Building material resale stores like Habitat for Humanity ReStores are great places to donate used materials.

7. Linoleum

If you decide to renovate your kitchen, be sure to recycle the flooring you remove. While linoleum flooring isn’t as popular as it once was, it can still be found in many homes across North America. Fortunately, it’s considered a greener type of flooring and can actually be reused after being removed.

If it isn’t reused, linoleum can safely be incinerated in an energy-recycling incineration plant, according to Green Floors. Because linoleum is made from natural materials, when it’s burned, the energy created from burning is roughly equal to the energy used in production.

8. Fire Extinguishers

Hopefully your kitchen is safely equipped with a fire extinguisher. Since fire extinguishers have expiration dates, it’s important to properly dispose of your old one when you replace it. Fire extinguishers are actually considered hazardous waste and must therefore be recycled properly. You can use the Earth911 recycling search to find a location in your area or reach out to your local HHW facility to find out if they accept them.

9. Small Appliances

If your kitchen is anything like mine, you probably have multiple small appliances. Items like a microwave, blender, toaster … the list goes on. Each of these items have different recycling requirements and will need to be considered carefully. If they are in good working order when you’re ready to get rid of them, I recommend selling them or donating them. However, if they are done, recycling is your best option. Learn more about small appliance recycling in this Earth911 guide.

10. Large Appliances

Large appliances are another important item you should recycle. While these items aren’t replaced very often, it’s crucial they end up in the right place. Refrigerators, for instance, actually require special recycling because of the freon inside, so be sure to search for a reputable recycler when the time comes. You can learn more about specific appliances using this Earth911 recycling guide.

While this list isn’t intended to be exhaustive, the above items are important to consider when trying to reduce your household waste. Have any items you think should be on the list? Let me know in the comments section below.

Feature image courtesy of Chalon Handmade

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Brian Brassaw

Brian Brassaw

Brian formerly managed the Earth911 Recycling Search and shared green living tips and tricks on Earth911’s Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter accounts. Brian also shares DIY projects on Little Pilots Lounge.
Brian Brassaw