The 5 Weirdest Things You Can Recycle Through Terracycle

Writing with pen on paper

One of my favorite discoveries in this fascinating world of green innovation is the company Terracycle. Simply put, founder and Princeton-dropout Tom Szaky recycles the unrecyclable. You can participate by signing up for different recycling collection programs, collecting your waste, and then shipping it back to Terracycle. For free.

This company goes way beyond paper, plastic and metal, however, as evidenced by this list of the 5 strangest things you can collect and recycle through Terracycle.

Assorted colored markers

Image courtesy of Hello Angel Creative.

1. Writing Instruments
So, you know that jar of pens on your desk? The one that has maybe three pens that work,  eighty-seven ones that don’t, and an odd assortment of caps and paperclips at the bottom? It’s time to empty it out and start collecting those pens that no longer write, and the markers that no longer mark. Collect any brand of worn out pens, markers and highlighters, empty mechanical pencils and, yes, even those random caps, and send them back to Terracycle for recycling.

2. Wine Corks
You already recycle your wine bottles (right?) so why not start recycling your corks, too? Through Terracycle, all Naked Grape brand natural wine bottle corks, synthetic corks,  metal screw-top caps, and foil cork wrappers are eligible to be collected and recycled. Not only that, but your nightly glass (or three) of Merlot can be benefiting others, because for every unit of waste received, two cents will be donated to Clothes4Souls, an organization which provides gently used clothing to a children’s home in Jerusalem.  Looking to reuse wine corks? Check out this episode of Earth911TV

3. Personal Care and Beauty Product Packages 
Sometimes it is genuinely challenging to balance my desire to be Eco-conscious with my desire for sky-high lashes. Call me shallow, but I like to look good! Sometimes looking good means Birkenstocks and a bare face, but other times it involves products. Lots of them. And although I try my best to source ethical, natural, and sustainably-packaged beauty supplies, I’m not 100% yet. Enter Terracycle! Through the personal care and beauty product brigade, you can recycle, well, basically everything. Mascara tube! Shampoo bottles! Moisturizer jars! Toothpaste tubes! It’s incredible.

4. Baby Food Pouches
They’re incredibly convenient, often nutritious (and sometimes even organic!), but admittedly pretty wasteful. Those fantastic little baby food creations are packed in plastic, and contribute a lot of food-packaging waste to feed a little creature that isn’t even able to crawl yet. Through Terracycle’s food pouch recycling program, however, you can collect and recycle any Ella’s Kitchen or Earth’s Organic brand food pouches!

5. Cigarette Butts
Yes. Seriously. I know. If you’re an environmentally conscious smoker (they do exist!) you can do your part to augment the impact of your nicotine habit on your environment by binning your butts and collecting them to be recycled. This is one campaign that has really taken off, and many cities have jumped on board, providing public collection receptacles to cut down on cigarette butt waste and participate in the program.

We can now recycle pens and cigarettes! What a time to be alive!  Looking to recycle items not on this list? Check out our recycling search.

Feature image courtesy of Lucas

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Madeleine Somerville

Madeleine Somerville is the author of All You Need Is Less: An Eco-Friendly Guide to Guilt-Free Green Living and Stress-Free Simplicity. She is a writer, wannabe hippie and lover of soft cheeses. She lives in Edmonton, Canada, with her daughter. You can also find Madeleine at her blog, Sweet Madeleine.