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You’ve started organizing clutter and have found a bunch of things you no longer need.  Inevitably, there will be things that are beyond their useful life. Don’t throw it out, recycle it!  But now you ask yourself, “where to recycle?”  There are so many more things that can be recycled beyond what they take at your curb!

As a professional organizer, the topic of recycling comes up all the time.  My clients want to do the right thing and be responsible with their waste items so I have accumulated many recycling resources.  Below is a “where to recycle list” for the odds and ends that are not taken at your curb each week.  Please remember that anything that is still in working order can be useful to someone in need so donate whatever you can before recycling.  For more on “where to donate“, see my related post.

General Recycling Information

Find a recycling location for just about anything, anywhere at Earth 911.  Make it mobile by downloading the iRecycle app for your phone.

The city of Chicago has a very comprehensive website covering recycling topics, but most useful is the “what to recycle where” pages. Even if you don’t live in the city there are things to be learned from their site regarding recycling options. Chicago Recycling Brief

For those of you who want to do recycling in DuPage County, try the DuPage Recycling Guide.    (If you’re looking to unload household hazardous waste, select the “Waste” page.)  For all others, check your local government site for information about your area.

Computer and Electronics Recycling and Donating

As of January 1st, 2012, it is illegal to put electronic waste in the garbage in Illinois.  This includes televisions, computer equipment, microwaves and DVD players.  The Illinois EPA has a map search function to help you find locations for various types of recycling.  DuPage County also offers recycling options.

Below are options for recycling or reuse/refurbishing.


Best Buy Electronics Recycling and Trade-In Program
Dell Recycling e-Stewards (This organization is working towards a responsible electronics recycling certification. Find your local “e-steward” on this site.)

Donate newer technology to National Christina Foundation

Cell Phones
Many cell phone service providers accept phones at their stores for recycling or reuse. Local organizations have phone drives throughout the year. Some groups will reuse functioning phones or rebuild non-working ones, others recycle only. Watch your local paper for upcoming events.
Verizon -Your phone is donated to HopeLine. It’s a charity that gives survivors of domestic violence a safe, reliable way to stay in contact with vital resources in a time of crisis.

DuPage County Cell Phone Recycling

Household Items

DuPage County Recycling Options – Recycling guide, events, smoke detectors, fluorescent bulbs, latex paint, electronics

CFLs and Fluorescent Light Bulbs – Did you know that compact (CFL) and tube fluorescent light bulbs are household hazardous waste and are not to be put in with the regular trash?  They contain mercury, a heavy metal that can leach into the water supply if these bulbs go into landfills.  Home Depot, Lowes and other hardware stores now take CFLs for proper disposal.  Search here for more.  There are special instructions for cleaning up a broken fluorescent bulb developed by the EPA.

Office and art supplies, books, cell phones and inkjet cartridges can be recycled and donated through SCARCE, located in Addison, IL. They donate useable items to under-served schools and developing nations and recycle the rest.

Corks – If you drink a lot of wine, you may want to collect up natural corks and recycle them at various locations all over the US. They turn them into cork floor tiles.

Eyeglasses – Lions Club provides glasses to those in need.  Collection boxes are located in many places like Walmart vision centers, grocery stores and glasses shops.

Foam packaging can be reused or recycled. Some mailbox stores will take used “peanuts”. Other foam packaging can be recycled. Check out Recycle by City to find recyclers in your area.

Latex Paint recycling at participating Ace Hardware locations and  Earth Paints.

 Prescription Drugs can be disposed of safely at many police stations and at periodic collection days.  Proper disposal keeps medicines from leaching into our water supply.  Check your local county site for the RxBox program in your area.

SCARCE  located in Addison,IL, takes many odds and ends.  American flags for proper retirement, men’s neckties, LP albums, license plates, keys, eyeglasses, buttons

Where to Recycle Everything Else
If all else fails and you have something you think can be useful to someone else, put it up on Freecycle. There are local networks for all areas. All you have to do it post it and let people know how they can pick it up! The Freecycle Network(tm) – Recycling & give aways

You can also sell your good stuff locally using Craig’s List or Bookoo. Both services have local groups so you can find your neighbors and not pay to ship.

If you have space to accommodate recycling items in your home, try designating a box of specialty recycling items and hold them for a quarterly or annual mass recycling event in your area.  Keep an eye on local newspapers and websites to find upcoming recycling events.

What will you start recycling now that you know where to take it?  Do you have any great recycling resources to add to my list?  Please share in the comments!