It’s almost spring cleaning season, which means it’s also time to clean out the linen cupboards, sort through the pile of paperwork and get rid of outdated or ill-fitting clothing.

We all know about recycling paper and cardboard, plastic bottles and tin cans, and you may even recycle your food scraps into compost. However, there’s a ton of other products and materials you have around the house that can be properly disposed of or re-purposed.

Old blankets and towels

The RSPCA are always in need of bedding for animals at their adoption centres including blankets, towels and flat sheets as well as face washers and pillow cases used for smaller creatures. The community-based charity is also on the look out for donated pet accessories including food and water bowls, toys and animals cages or carriers in good condition.

Shredded paper

Because the paper fibres of shredded documents are too short to be recycled, they shouldn’t be put in your yellow recycling bin. However, shredded paper can still be put to good use – it makes excellent bedding for pets like rabbits and guinea pigs, used for packaging items instead of bubble wrap or styrofoam, it can be put in your compost at home, used as kitty litter or for DIY crafting. You can also donate bags of shredded paper to local animal shelters and pet shops.

Mobile phones

Got a drawer full of iPhones with cracked screens or outdated Nokias from high school? Over 90% of the materials used in your mobile phones can be recycled! Non-for-profit program MobileMuster accepts all brands and types of mobile phones – plus their batteries, chargers and accessories – and recycle them for free. Apple also has their own program called Apple Renew, and they’ll even give you a gift card if it’s in excellent condition! Destroying those embarrassing photos from year 7 will actually be helping the environment! Yes!

Old car batteries and oil

Local government funded Clean-Out events take all those tricky to recycle items including motor oil and car batteries, as well as globes, fire extinguishers, paint and other household chemicals.  Supercheap Auto retail stores recycle old car batteries, and a handful of them dispose oil. The NRMA also recycle car batteries at their service centres and through roadside assistance.

Clothing and accessories

Charity stores and op shops like the Salvos and Vinnies take all sorts of things including clothes, homewares and furniture. If you’ve got a designer piece or a collectable item like a promotional tour shirt, you may be able to pick up some extra cash by selling it on eBay or Gumtree. Apps like Carousell are also quickly becoming popular in regards to selling old shoes, handbags and clothing. If it’s too good to throw out, donate or sell it!

Cds and records

While op shops also take pre-loved music, autographed and limited edition copies can go for big bucks online, especially on eBay. If you have a local community radio station, ask them if they take old CDs and records – more often than not, they’d love to expand their library!

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Rather than throwing your stash of gossip mags in the recycling, think about all the places you go to that have waiting rooms – doctors surgeries, chiropractors, hairdressers, dentists, social services and mechanics all have seating areas with tables that they fill with magazines. Give them a call and see if they’d like your copies once you’ve finished reading them.

Ink cartridges and computer parts

If your printer regularly gets a workout like mine does, all those used ink cartridges can be recycled through Plant Ark, who take a wide range of items including inkjet and laser catridges and toner bottles. Officeworks is a retailer with Planet Ark and MobileMuster collection boxes, and they also provide recycling services computer parts through their Bring I.T. Back program, which includes desktops, laptops, computer mice, monitors, printers, scanners, keyboards and CD drives.

Makeup and cosmetics

Empty lipstick tubes, eyeshadow palettes and even mascara bottles can all be recycled, and makeup companies have started programs to encourage consumers to give back their cosmetic packaging for recycling. L’Oreal has teamed up with Terracycle, offering free shipping for the return of skin and hair care packaging, and the Back To M.A.C initiative means you can score yourself a free M.A.C lipstick just by returning 6 M.A.C packaging containers!

Spectacles and glasses

Your unfashionable pairs of sunnies and grandpa’s old prescription glasses can actually be donated to the Lions Club Recycle For Sight program, which regrades and distributes 250,000 to 500,000 pairs every year to those in need in developing countries. If you’d like to donate, please send your glasses (without cases) to LIONS Recycle for Sight Australia Inc, PO Box 3021, Clontarf MDC, QLD 4019.

While we already do our bit recycling at home in our three coloured bins, we can play our part to recycle the bits and pieces that we may forget about.

Just a bit of extra effort can go a long way when it comes to preserving our environment.

Do you recycle anything else? Made an awesome upcycled DIY? Share in the comments!