We all know how to recycle typical things like food containers and cardboard and you probably have your favorite local general donation center. But what about unusual stuff? Check out my list:
American Girl dolls & accessories:Girl AGain sells gently used American Girl dolls, clothes, and furniture. It is operated by Yes She Can Inc., a nonprofit organization that teaches and develops job skills for young women with autism.
Art supplies & oddities: Reach out to the art department of your local college or community college. Students love to make art out of donated supplies and found objects.
Batteries: BatteriesPlus+ stores will recycle all kinds of batteries, even single-use alkaline batteries. Staples will recycle all except single-use alkaline batteries. Technically, alkaline batteries can be put in the trash, but it's better to avoid that. Duracell and Battery University have extensive information on battery care and disposal.
Books: Donate to your local library and general donation centers. If you have just a few books, look for a Little Free Library near you or install one at your house. If you have specialty books (part of a collection or specific genre), locate a museum, library, or historical society centered around that specialty and see if they would take the donation. If you have to mail the books, save money by sending them via the USPS Media Mail rate.
Car Seats: Twice a year, Target offers a car seat trade-in program.
Cashmere & Silk: The artisan behind CashmereLuxCo will turn your moth-eaten garments into one-of-a-kind creations through visible repair or upcycling. If you don't want your piece repaired, you can simply donate it to her.
Electronics:Staples, Best Buy, and BatteriesPlus+ stores can recycle all electronics such as cell phones, computers, laptops, tablets, etc. For a fee, they will also wipe hard drives. Walmart will allow you to exchange electronics for a Walmart gift card.
Flags: Check with your local VFW or American Legion to locate a U.S. flag retirement dropbox near you.
Fluorescent light bulbs:BatteriesPlus+ stores will recycle all kinds of bulbs. Home Depot stores have recycling bins near their service desk for compact fluorescent bulbs.
Gift bags:Kreatelier, a favorite shop of mine here in Providence, repurposes gift bags as their shopping bags. If you're not near Providence, see if a boutique near you would like to start this kind of program.
Ikea furniture: Though it's easy to sell online for local pickup, you may prefer the Ikea Buy Back program.
Ink cartridges: Staples stores will recycle these and give you rewards credit.
Kindles: Promote a love of reading when you donate your old Kindle to Pageturner (formerly Kindle Classroom Project). The all-volunteer Pageturner provides Kindles and an unlimited library of books to elementary, middle, and high school students in Oakland and the Bay Area. Fill out the form on their website and they'll get back to you with shipping instructions.
Medical equipment:Med-eq.org takes unused medical supplies and lightly used medical equipment. Goodwill also accepts medical equipment donations.
Medication: Police stations in Rhode Island have drop boxes or go to safe.pharmacy/drug-disposal to find a drop box near you. For instructions on home disposal, check FDA.gov or try a Deterra drug deactivation pouch.
Paint: Many paint stores will recycle your paint. Check paintcare.org for a drop-off site near you.
Pet Products: Animal shelters are a great place to donate and, in addition to pet supplies, they often take old towels and blankets. Petco stores will accept donations of pet items and also unopened pet food.
Plastic bags: Many grocery stores and Ocean State Job Lot stores have bins out front for recycling stretchy plastics such as bags and bubble wrap.
Sharps and needles: Collect these in a sturdy plastic container and throw in the trash or check safeneedledisposal.org to find information and disposal options in your area.
Shoes: Zappos has partnered with Soles4Souls so you can ship your shoes to them for free!
Stuffed animals:Stuffed Animals for Emergencies provides stuffed animals to comfort children in traumatic and emergency situations. Lightweight stuffed animals are easy to ship to any of the SAFE locations.
T-Shirts & Sweatshirts: My T-Shirt Blanket in nearby Fall River, MA, turns your t-shirts into custom blankets and pillows.