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Beyond Paper And Plastic: Recycling And Reusing Household Items

Posted by on Aug 2, 2012 in For Your Home, Lifestyle | 4 comments

Beyond Paper And Plastic: Recycling And Reusing Household Items

Despite recycling programs and an ample number of charities that accept gently used items, the EPA estimates that each person generates an average of 4.3 pounds of trash per day. It’s a staggering figure.

Luckily, more organizations are finding creative ways to keep more items out of landfills. Did you know that the pair of running shoes you annihilated while training for your last big race and the old pair of sunglasses that just aren’t your style can be reused if you can get them into the right hands?


First, let’s focus on those tennis shoes that have been loved to death. They can’t possibly be worn again, in fact, they probably shouldn’t have been worn for the last six months … but they were so comfy. Nike’s Reuse-A-Shoe  program take old sneakers, grinds them up and re-purposes the materials for new products, like sneakers or athletic surfaces.

To find a drop-off location or learn how to send in your sneakers, visit By the way, the program also accepts old LIVESTRONG bracelets.

Nike only accepts athletic shoes so it’s really just the start if you’re cleaning the closet.

Old dress shoes, cleats, sandals and other footwear can be donated to Rerun Shoes. The organization sends donations to Africa where micro-entrepreneurs refurbish them and bring them to market. Rerun Shoes has several drop-off locations – mostly at running stores and fitness centers on the east coast – and accepts shoes by mail. For more information, visit


When I first started wearing glasses, I bought a new pair every year because my prescription kept changing. I also had to give up wearing non-prescription sunglasses. The result was a drawer full of eyewear that was of no use to me. Luckily, I let the glasses pile up rather than throw them away because I eventually learned that they could be reused in two ways.

One option is to reuse the frames. I should have thought of this myself but it wasn’t until my eye doctor asked if I wanted to keep my old frames that I realized replacing only the lenses was an option. It can be a big money-saver too.  To make this option work, choose frames you’ll enjoy wearing for years and treat them kindly. For example, I always rest my glasses on soft surfaces like cloth or even a piece of paper to prevent scratching rather than putting them directly on the table.

The second option is to donate them. Most likely, your optometrist or eyewear store, like LensCrafters, accepts donations of eyeglasses and sunglasses. When donating, remember that most organizations accept prescription and non-prescription glasses. So the sunglasses you tired of wearing could have a second life in a sun-soaked country protecting the eyes of someone in need.

Resources and Inspiration

Freecycle is a movement to keep “good stuff out of landfills.” It connects more than 9 million members who are offering and seeking items. With more than 5,000 groups, it’s likely there’s one in your area.

Earth911 is a recycling directory. Enter what you want to recycle and your location to find out where you can recycle the item locally.

greenUPGRADER is a blog that offers constant stream of ideas and projects focused on reusing items that would otherwise end up in the landfill. If you love DIY projects or just enjoy marveling at others’ creativity, check it out.

Do you have a recycling or reuse tip? If so, leave a comment below!

Kim is an eco enthusiast who tries to make small changes that will add up and make a difference.

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  1. Michelle

    I recently came across this post about how to recycle bras: I’d always hated to throw them away – now I don’t have to!

  2. Doug Oakey

    Great ideas! Washington State has mandated free recycling of electronic appliances for state residents, and STILL I see abandoned TV’s and computers on curbsides in our neighborhood in Seattle. Being responsible still takes a nudge for some folks.

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