How to Recycle Common Household Items

Printer Cartridges

While your local recycling facilities may not accept ink cartridges, they are recyclable, and doing so ensures that the reusable materials don’t end up in landfills. The packaging for some cartridges will contain information regarding any cartridge recycling programs supported by the manufacturer, while many office supply chain retailers will accept cartridges for recycling as well. There are also a variety of programs and organizations that will purchase your used printer ink cartridges, such as Laser-Tone International.

Computers and Laptops

After you make sure that all of your sensitive information has been completely removed from your old computer or laptop and that all data is destroyed, you’re still faced with the prospect of figuring out what to do with the computer itself. If it’s so old that selling it isn’t an option, you may consider donating it to a non-profit organization in your area that could still benefit from the machine or an area refurbisher. If the equipment simply isn’t salvageable, you’ll want to make sure that it goes to end-of-life recycling, where it is destroyed and disposed of responsibly. Earth911 and Dell-Goodwill Reconnect are great sources for finding drop-off locations in your area.


Single-use and rechargeable lithium batteries both contain hazardous materials, but are considered recyclable. Though your local recycling facility may not accept them, there are ways that you can keep them out of landfills. Electronic equipment retail chains often maintain kiosks for battery recycling in their stores, while local programs dedicated to battery recycling exist in many areas.

Cell Phones

A cell phone that’s a bit outdated but still serviceable can be donated to a variety of charity programs that provide mobile devices to the needy, or sold for a small sum on any one of the many electronic device buy-back sites around the Internet. If a broken or irreparably damaged phone simply can’t be recovered, however, you’ll need to make sure that you keep it out of a landfill and dispose of it responsibly. When you select a recycler in your area that will accept your broken phone, be sure that they’ve signed the Electronics Recycler’s Pledge of True Stewardship.

Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs

Because compact fluorescent lamp bulbs contain trace amounts of mercury, most curbside recycling pick-up organizations will not accept them. Home Depot and IKEA stores will accept CFL bulbs for safe disposal, as will any local hazardous waste facility. Just be sure that you’re not sending them off to a landfill, because mercury can be quite dangerous at certain levels.


According to the Mother Nature Network, the old analog television that you’ve just replaced with a sleek flat-screen could contain up to eight pounds of lead and other heavy metals, so it’s important that you dispose of it responsibly. Be sure that you choose only reputable recyclers, as there are unscrupulous people who will claim that their methods are environmentally sound, but they’re actually shipping electronics to third world countries to be dismantled and dumped. Check Earth911 for reputable facilities in your area.