Think Before You Trash: 5 Household Items You Can Recycle


As a Boulder County homeowner, you’re no stranger to the basics of recycling. Your plastics, paper, glass and cans go into your recycling bin, while everything else gets tossed in the trash.As a Boulder County homeowner, you’re no stranger to the basics of recycling. Your plastics, paper, glass and cans go into your recycling bin, while everything else gets tossed in the trash. 

But some of the old or used items you’re throwing away might be things you can recycle.

The Boulder area offers many options for recycling all sorts of stuff that might’ve been headed for the trashcan otherwise, including lightbulbs, old batteries and even paint.

Here are 5 common items you can recycle instead of throw away, and where to recycle them in Boulder County.


Older incandescent bulbs have to be thrown away once they’ve stopped working, as the glass in them is different than glass you can put in your recycling bin.

But newer energy-efficient bulbs are recyclable. They do contain a small amount of mercury, so recycling these bulbs is the safest option for you and the environment.

How to Recycle Lightbulbs:

There are a number of collection points for CFL (compact fluorescent light) bulbs in the Boulder area, including:


“E-Waste” is shorthand for electronic waste. This includes old cellphones, monitors, TVs, computers and video game systems.

Many of these devices contain trace amounts of toxic materials like cadmium and lead. In 25 states, including Colorado, it’s illegal to throw away these types of electronics.

Legal or not, recycling e-waste properly ensures you’re doing your part to look out for the environment.

Before you recycle, be sure to delete any personal data from the device, and back up the information on an external hard-drive or storage app like Dropbox if you want to be able to access it in the future.

How to Recycle E-Waste:

Boulder County hosts several outlets where you can recycle your e-waste:

There are also some options for donating your electronics:

You can also recycle your old electronics at any one of the ecoATMs in the Boulder/Denver area. These machines allow you to deposit small electronic devices and receive money for them.

Some retailers and brands have buyback and/or recycling programs, including Apple, Best Buy, Staples, Sprint, Amazon, and Office Depot. Check with a local electronics retailer or with the company that made and/or sold you your electronic device.


Before you throw out those last-season or slightly warn shoes, consider giving them to a shoe-recycle charity.

Shoes that are still in decent condition are needed all over the world by people who don’t have access to footwear. There are several organizations that collect and distribute old shoes.

How to Recycle Shoes:

As long as your old shoes don’t have tears or holes and the sole isn’t too badly worn, they can be recycled and given to a grateful new owner.

There are a few options in the Boulder area for putting your used shoes to good use.


Batteries contain many materials in them that can be recycled — including metals and sometimes plastic. The trick is how to do it.

Alkaline or Nickel Cadmium batteries are the types that are common in remote controls and other small electronics. These are very different from the lithium ion battery that might be in your laptop. And both of these batteries are very different from your car battery.

The good news is, all three of these types of batteries can be recycled.

How to Recycle Batteries:

In many modern devices, the rechargeable battery component is integrated into the device, and can’t be easily removed. In this case, you should recycle the entire device as e-waste (see above).

When you’re able to access the battery, you can recycle it at the following outlets:

Call in advance to make sure the recycler accepts the specific type of battery you’ve got.

Most batteries qualify as hazardous waste, So if you don’t recycle your battery, you should dispose of them at the Boulder County Hazardous Materials Management Facility.


Got some old cans of paint stacked in the corner of your garage? If so, it’s time to get rid of them.

Paint can be hazardous for you and your pets. Keep a small sample for color reference in a tightly sealed container out of reach of children and pets, and recycle the rest.

How to Recycle Paint:

Recycling paint depends on the type you’ve got.

Latex Paint:

If you’ve got small amounts of latex paint, you can mix them all together. The resulting color might not be the best option for repainting your bedroom, but it can work for more utilitarian purposes, like a base coat or re-painting something old on which the color doesn’t really matter.

If you don’t have enough latex paint to reuse, you can throw away the paint by dumping it into kitty litter or shredded paper, letting it harden, then putting it all in the trash. You can then recycle the paint cans.

The cans are recyclable as scrap metal at either Boulder County Recycling Center or CHaRM.

Oil Paint:

Oil paints are hazardous, so if you don’t have enough to donate for reuse, dispose of it at the Boulder County Hazardous Materials Management Facility.

Any type of paint can be reused, so if you’ve got a container with a reusable amount of paint, you can donate it:

After you’ve started recycling and reusing all the things we’ve talked about here, you may find yourself addicted to minimizing waste in every aspect of your life.

Learn more about reducing waste and living a greener life >