We’re all about the blue bin at EcoVibe. But we know that recycling can be a headache when it’s not clear what can and cannot be recycled.
That’s why we wanted to put a list together of common household items that can’t be easily recycled, with suggestions on what to do with them instead. Have a look – there might be a few you wouldn’t expect…
1. Pizza Boxes
Grease and cheese - along with whatever topping you added for that post-pub indulgence - make pizza boxes unrecyclable. Once the cardboard’s been dirtied, that’s it. You could always recycle the uncontaminated parts of the box. But we prefer making an old pizza box into a flower bed! Just add soil to the base and plant it in a free bed. In time, the cardboard will compost, too!
2. Cereal Packets
Some cereal packets have a plastic outer coating, making them difficult to recycle. The classic option of cutting eye-holes in the box and turning it into a desperate last-minute Halloween mask is too easy. Next time, why not combine with toilet roll tubing and some elastic bands to make a guitar? You could give it to one of the kids. Or you could be a bedroom-mirror guitar hero… again.
3. Wire Hangers
You can’t recycle wire hangers in most places. This means you have two options. The first is taking them to your local dry cleaners. It’s unlikely they’ll turn down free hangers. The second is a world of craft and upcycling possibility! You could fashion a wreath for your front door, a tool for dredging bird baths, a new drying rack for your sink… you’re just going to take them to the dry cleaners, aren’t you?
Mirror, mirror on the wall – who is the least recyclable of all? Well, there are other contenders. But most household glass can’t be recycled, including mirrors. It’s hard to know immediately what to do with a broken mirror other than curse the coming years of bad luck and sweep it into the bin. We suggest saving the shards to make a beautiful mosaic – but be careful of sharp edges!
5. Post-it Notes
Sorry, we lied. Post-its can be recycled. BUT (and it’s a big one), not every recycling plant will accept post-it notes. The problem is with the adhesive. It must be chemically removed prior to recycling, and not every facility has the right equipment. Not to worry – let’s make origami! There are many creative things you can do with sticky-notes. Trying your hand at paper folding is just one.
6. Wine Glasses
… Why would you want to get rid of a wine glass? Okay, maybe it’s broken. Be more careful next time. There are a few things you can do with your old glass to save it from landfill. If the stem’s intact, attach a teacup to the top for some kitschy kitchen crockery. If the stem’s broken, use the glass as a bell jar for cupcakes.
7. Coffee Cups
Coffee cups are lined with plastic to insulate and prevent dripping. Sadly, this means they cannot be recycled. It’s also hard to think of what else to do with them. We suggest cutting them out altogether and replacing them with a reusable alternative.
8. Crisp Packets
Crisp packets are lined with a combination of foil and plastic that will not break down. There’s also no way of being able to recycle them. They can, however, be made into great little keyrings. Put an empty packet of crisps in the oven for a couple of minutes and watch it shrink. It’s pretty satisfying. The result is a tiny, hardened packet that will keep its branding and design. Punch a hole in it and voila! A new keyring.
Broken ceramics are no good for the recycling official. What you’re better off doing is smashing them up into little pieces and using them as gravel or drainage for flower beds!
10. Brightly Coloured Paper
Fluorescent or brightly coloured paper spoils other paper types when they’re being recycled. But as every primary school pupil will know, bright paper is fantastic for all sorts of crafts. Why not give the paper to your kid (if you have one)? Let their imagination run riot on a rainy day along with dried macaroni, glitter and PVA glue. Sorted.
Knives, forks and spoons are not recyclable. But they can make excellent coat hangers when they’re past their best. Just Uri Geller them – either with your mind or some elbow grease – to detach the heads from the handles. From there you can drill them into the back of a door or wardrobe to provide an additional coat hanger. Forks are the best for this, but knives and spoons will also work a treat.