15 Objects That Do Not Belong in the Trash

Not In Trash

You may subject your home to a weekly purge or give it an annual deep clean. Either way, you may occasionally find yourself scratching your head while standing in front of your waste bins. Many communities expect residents to sort discarded items into recycling, organics waste, or trash containers. When you are cleaning out your garage or the depths of your closet, here are 15 items you should not drop into your trash can.


Your old bicycle may not be fit to ride, but there is no need to send it to the trash heap. Many companies will refurbish old bikes or be able to use the parts. The International Bicycle Fund can help you find locations for donating your used bicycle. In addition to refurbishing, old bicycle parts may be used in artwork or as furniture. When sent to Africa, the inner tubes of tires can be used to tie down loads or may be woven into a webbing for chairs or purses. Tires are often recycled in the same way automobile tires are recycled.

Loose Broken Glass Shard

Broken Glass Trash

Broken glass is not recyclable. You can place it in your household trash bin, but only after properly wrapping it to prevent injury to your trash collector. Place broken pieces of glass inside a cardboard box such as a shoebox or cereal box. After sealing the package with tape, you can place it in your trash bin. Furthermore, when disposing of a cracked mirror or piece of glass, Penn Waste advises placing tape over the cracked area to prevent the shards from falling loose.

Electronics and Appliances

Your old electronic items such as laptops, cell phones, and printers do not belong in your trash can. Instead, search out electronic waste recycling centers. Best Buy will accept three items, such as vacuums, televisions, and computers, per household each day for free.
Furthermore, if you bring in your old printer for recycling, Best Buy offers 15% off select, new HP printers. For a fee, Best Buy will also haul away your old stove, dishwasher, or dryer when they deliver a replacement appliance. Staples also accepts items such as CD players, digital cameras, fax machines, laptops, and mobile phones for free.


Usa Flag

A United States flag should never be tossed carelessly into a trash bin. If your American flag becomes damaged or worn, the VFW offers instructions for respectfully burning the flag. Alternatively, the U.S. Flag Code allows for folding and burying the flag in a well-constructed box that protects the flag from contact with the dirt. Carrying out this task with solemnity and respect can be a touching way to consider the sacrifices others have made for our country. Additionally, your local VFW, American Legion, or Scout organization may accept worn flags for proper disposal.

Fluorescent Bulbs

The mercury in fluorescent bulbs prevents these items from being candidates for your trash bin. When changing your fluorescent tube bulbs, Earth911 recommends immediately wrapping the burned-out bulb in paper or bubble wrap to prevent the bulb from breaking and leaking mercury. Earth911 provides an online recycling center locator for these items. Other items that contain mercury include mercury thermometers. Place your old thermometer in a cardboard box and take it to a hazardous waste drop-off site.

Ink Cartridges

Ink Cartridge

The toner contained in used ink cartridges is classified as hazardous waste. Therefore, refrain from throwing your empty cartridges in the trash. You can recycle ink cartridges by dropping them off at most major office supply stores. Staples offers $2 back in rewards when you bring in your used ink cartridges. Other stores, such as Walgreens, Walmart, and Costco, may refill your used ink cartridges at a discounted rate.

Laundry Detergent

If a switch in laundry detergent left you feeling itchy or didn’t give your laundry the fresh fragrance you had hoped for, you might be tempted to pitch the jug into the trash. However, even mild detergents can be harmful to the environment. Consider donating unwanted laundry detergent to a friend, shelter, church, or daycare center. If that is not possible, flush it down the drain with plenty of water to dilute it.


Junk mail belongs in your paper recycling, not your trash can. To protect your privacy, shred any pieces of mail that contain your name, address, or personal information. You may think an old pay stub or the receipt from your veterinarian would not be interesting to a thief. However, pet names are often used as passwords. Furthermore, pay stubs and bank statements may contain account numbers. Taking care to protect your personal information can prevent a scammer from turning your trash into his treasure by stealing your identity.



Tossing your unused meds into the trash or flushing them down the toilet can be harmful to the environment. Since most wastewater treatment centers are unable to removed medications from the water, drugs can pollute water and food supplies. Instead, check with your local police station to see if they accept and dispose of unused medications. Furthermore, the DEA hosts a National Prescription Drug Take Back Day and publishes a list of controlled substance public disposal locations.

Motor Oil

Since motor oil is flammable, you cannot place it in your trash. Options for dealing with motor oil include bringing it to an auto parts store or service station for recycling. You may also take used motor oil to a hazardous waste disposal center. If you need assistance locating a recycling center for your motor oil, check out Earth911’s recycling center locator.


If you use needles for insulin or other medications, avoid throwing these items into your household trash. Collect all of your used needles in a hazardous materials container or heavy plastic jug to prevent accidental needle sticks. Cal Recycle lists several possible options for disposing of used needles. They include your doctor’s office, your local hospital, manufacturer mail-back services, and needle exchange programs.


Clothing Trashed

You probably already donate outgrown or unused items of clothing to charity or take them to your local thrift shop. However, it can be puzzling to know what to do with items that are stained or torn. Tossing them into your trash can ensures that will end up languishing at the dump. Companies such as Ecosmith, Green Tree Textiles, and American Textile Recycling Service keep clothing out of the dump by sourcing them to places the fibers can be reused. Try googling textile recycling centers in your area of the country.


Careful measurements and calculations can help you avoid having large quantities of leftover paint after completing a household project. Paint can generally be stored for around ten years and used for touchups. Oil-based paints require disposal at a hazardous waste collection site. However, latex paints can be placed in the trash. Lowe’s recommends adding equal parts kitty litter to your paint can to absorb the liquid before tossing in your household trash bin. Consider donating larger quantities of paint to charities where they can be used for painting projects.

Pots and Pans

Usable pots and pans are popular items at thrift shops and donation sites such as Goodwill. While most pots and pans contain metal, they may not be suitable for your recycling bin. You may be able to take your metal pots and pans to a scrap metal disposal site. However, scrap metal recyclers may not accept pans with a nonstick surface, such as Teflon. Do not place Pyrex pans in the recycling bin, as the glass in these items has been treated to endure high heat, rendering them non-recyclable.

Rechargeable Batteries

Rechargeable Batteries

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the nickel-cadmium heavy metals in rechargeable batteries classify them as hazardous waste. As such, you must not place these items in the trash. Instead, check out the rechargeable battery recycling center locator at Call2Recycle. Depending on your state, you may be able to dispose of single-use batteries such as AA or AAA batteries in the regular trash.