The Ultimate Recycling and Donation Guide For Electronics, Clothes, and Plastics

This might seem slightly off topic for an educational website, but as parents and educators, it’s our responsibility to teach the next generation about sustainability. I ask that as you use this list please remember that most companies cannot actually use every part of the donation (unless it’s still usable). Buying less, and fixing old, is always going to be the most sustainable option for out planet. Which is where I am going to start this post…

Great Information On Recycling

  • The EPA created an info graphic on smart phones. It is really informative, including how much waste is made from phones, and ways to reduce that waste.
  • Check out this article on clothing waste and responsibility.
  • TerraCycle is great company that’s helping with recycling and sustainability on small and large scales. Some of their services also include paying to send in waste to be recycled.

Ways To Update Old Tech

Photo by Tyler Lastovich from Pexels.
  • This website lists 5 ways to improve TV’s, gaming consoles, and basic upgrades to your laptops to keep them going longer:
  • dealnews explains some great starting information to buy refurbished technology.
  • Reading this article from will help get you jump started with ideas to upgrade your laptop. I have replaced the hard drives in two of my computers and they are lightening fast now.
  • Consumer Reports has also listed several options for old laptops – sell, fix, donate (if it’s usable), and recycle.

Ways To Update Old Clothes

Places To Donate Technology That Still Works

  • It’s always a great option to call up your local school district! They may need something unexpected!
  • While you’re at it, check out any private schools or alternative schools.
  • Money Crashers created a list of 9 charities that will take usable technology and reuse it! Make sure to read closely if your tech has the right specifications.
  • adds a few additional charities that are different from the list above (they are: PickUp Please, Secure The Call, ZealousGood)
  • Call local non profit organizations in the area that might be in need.
  • Of course you can always sell your old technology. Make sure never to give out your personal information or accept “wire transfers” on these types of deals.
  • Post it for free on a local listing like Facebook Marketplace or LetGo.
  • Check before taking technology to places like Goodwill and Salvation Army. What they accept is subject to changes. Goodwill frequently takes electronics and then recycles it, however they do not take all electronics.

Places To Recycle Electronics That Don’t Work

Thanks Skitterphoto for this picture.
  • Similar as listed above, some local donation centers will take broken electronics and then send them to recycling facilities. Call ahead before you drop these items off.
  • The EPA has created a list of companies that take back products and recycle them. Among these companies are: HP, Best Buy, Xerox, Staples, Sprint, LG, Dell, Vizio, Samsung, Sony, and TCL.
  • Ecycling Central, Earth911, Call2Recycle, and GreenerGadgets have look up systems to find recycling centers in your local area.
  • Also try a search (on any web browser) for “electronic recycling near me.”
  • The EPA also has a list of certified recyclers. This means that the center is deemed responsible in their recycling methods. Additionally, they reward companies who are working to recycle responsibly.
  • 1-800-Got-Junk is one of several companies that will come take electronics away (especially TVs) and recycle them for you. (Hopefully, I can’t find proof of this claim.)

Places To Donate Used Clothing

Before sending anything off to these locations read this article on how Goodwill process donated clothes. It’s a pretty similar process for extra clothing at other donation centers. I am not saying don’t donate your clothes to donation centers (it’s actually important for a lot of families), but be aware that there is still waste involved.

  • updater complied 8 charities who take clothes. The ones you probably don’t know are: Project G.L.A.M (prom dresses), Room To Grow, Soles4Souls, The Arc.
  • Make sure to do a search online for “clothing donations near me.” I found several local charities near me that needed help. This was also a problem when I worked a women’s rehabilitation center in Salt Lake City. We often struggled to get clothing donations on site.

What To Do With Clothes That Cannot Be Worn Again

  • treehugger puts together some fantastic options to try with old clothes! (Even composting… what?!)
  • put together a list of companies that take old textiles and recycles them (make sure you go all the way through her article, it’s at the bottom).

Recycling Plastics And Toys

Thanks Pixababy!
  • For kid toys and books, try to donate it to a friend, sell it, donate it to a thrift store, or look for local daycare/preschool centers in your local area. (remember these options are also not waste free, just increasing the life of an object)
  • TerrCycle collects plastic items (this link is specifically for toys) and then recycles them. The catch is you have to pay for it. Here’s your chance to put your money where your mouth is.
  • Consider fixing your toys or calling the manufacturer to see if it can be replaced (LEGOs and Little Tikes both do this).
  • Schools can sign up to donate old markers to Crayola. This is a great option for markers, but it’s good to remember that not all of the plastic can be recycled. There will still be waste involved.
  • Green Tree Plastics takes caps and turns them into benches and tables. These can be a creative way to recycle as a school. The downside is that you need a huge amount of weight to create the bench. Sometimes this encourages people to use plastic bottles more so that they can reach their cap goal.
  • Here’s a list of where you can find plastic bag drop off sites.

Companies Who Recycle Their Own (and other) Products

  • GoodHouseKeeping published a list of 14 companies who recycle. Their products include contact lenses to snack food wrappers.
  • created a list of retailers who offer perks to shoppers who return old products.
  • Vogue Business wrote an article to businesses about creating recycling programs. Inside it included several high end companies who accept recycled items.
  • created a list of companies who accept used items and is organized by type of item. Super user friendly!
  • Fashionista compiled a list of companies who take back empty makeup.

Wrapping It Up

Basically, if you are willing, there is almost always a way to recycle. It probably won’t be totally free, and it may take a fair amount of effort, but it’s our stuff and our responsibility. If you don’t want to take care of it, don’t buy it.

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