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How to Recycle 7 Things You Thought You Had to Throw Away

You'd be surprised at what good can come out of your old stuff. You just have to know what to do with it, and make the effort to pass it along.


  • Step 1: Share your used shoes Return your used sneakers and running shoes to Nike stores, and they'll find their way into material for community projects like new playground flooring. All brands are welcome. To donate other kinds of footwear to the needy, go to and find a retail drop-off location near you.
  • Step 2: Collect your hair clippings If you have a garden, save your hair clippings: They make a decent fertilizer, and the smell of human hair can repel deer.
  • TIP: If you have at least 8 inches of unbleached hair collected in a ponytail or braid, donate it to an organization that makes hairpieces for people with medical hair loss.
  • Step 3: Pass along your bikes Pass along any bicycles you no longer ride. The organization Bikes for the World finds good homes for them.
  • Step 4: Save your soda-can tabs Save your soda-can tabs to give to a Ronald McDonald House, which provides housing to the families of seriously ill children receiving nearby hospital care. They raise funds for the houses by selling the tabs to recycling plants. To find the chapter nearest you, log onto
  • Step 5: Give the gift of hearing or sight Never toss hearing aids; mail them to Hear Now, a nonprofit program that gets them to those in need. Or ask your local Lions and Rotary Clubs if they collect them. Drop off old prescription eyeglasses, bifocals, and non-prescription sunglasses at LensCrafters or Goodwill stores.
  • Step 6: Turn old crayons into new ones Turn used crayons into new ones by sending them to the Crayon Recycle Program. Otherwise, they'll sit in a landfill forever. Find out more at
  • TIP: If the wrappers are still on the crayons, leave them there.
  • Step 7: Let's go to the videotape Send your old VHS tapes to Alternative Community Training, a nonprofit that hires workers with disabilities, who erase and repackage donated videocassettes. Or ask your local thrift shop if they accept them. And while you're there, see what else they accept. You'd be surprised how often your trash will be someone else's treasure.
  • FACT: Sixty-seven percent of Americans polled say they recycle.

You Will Need

  • Used shoes
  • Hair clippings
  • Bicycles you no longer ride
  • Soda-can tabs
  • Hearing aids and glasses
  • Crayons
  • Old VHS tapes
  • 8" of unbleached hair (optional)

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