Recycling is great! No doubt, we all agree. If you’re lucky enough to have an alley pickup service, you’re probably already doing it. For others without curbside service, drop off locations are offered throughout the city to ensure your waste doesn’t end up in a landfill.
You may not realize it, but materials beyond cardboard, glass, plastic and aluminum can also have a second life too. Here is a list of local resources for recycled materials or better yet “up-cycled”. Download the phone app called iRecycle for additional solutions on disposing of random household items.
Off Site Recycling Dumpsters
For traditional items, Chicago offers 37 drop off locations throughout the city. To learn more about the locations and the materials accepted by the Chicago recycling program, click here.
Hazardous Materials Facility
The City of Chicago runs a hazardous material drop off that will accept many items you will not want to throw away including: lightbulbs, motor oil, and electronics. In fact, it is illegal to dispose some of these items in the trash. Click here to see a full list of accepted items.
PC Rebuilders & Repairs
This business accepts electronics such as computers, printers, TVs and more. It’s now illegal to dump electronics into the regular trash, so make a stop here. They’ll even wipe all your data from computers first for you. The refurbished pieces are given to non-profits and schools.
From video games and GPS systems to old CDs, Best Buy’s list of accepted items is grand. Click here to view the full list of accepted items.
This recently relocated company picks up furniture and building materials that would otherwise end up in the trash. If you’re going through a renovation or just getting rid of some furniture, reach out to them to see if they’ll accept it. And remember, secondhand stores also accept furniture still in great condition.
Used gym shoes can be brought to Nike where they will be turned into artificial turf.
Chicago Public Libraries
All Chicago libraries have drop offs for Alkaline or rechargeable batteries.
Designated stores accept old Styrofoam packing peanuts to be repurposed. Call ahead to see if your local branch participates.
Brita water filters, #5 plastics (commonly used in food packaging) and corks can all be brought to any Whole Foods.
Old medicine and all batteries can be dropped at Walgreens. Never flush old medicine down the toilet as it will break down and end up in the water system.
You can drop off traditional recycling, plastic bags, Mp3 players, cell phones and ink cartridges at the entrance of Targets.
Plastic bags, batteries and lightbulbs can be brought to Lowe’s.
Rechargeable batteries, cell phones and CFL lightbulbs can all be dropped off at Home Depot.
CFL lightbulbs can be properly recycled at Menards.
Or if you’re going to Ace already, drop you CFL lightbulbs there instead.
Below are a few more recycling resources for your everyday items:
Clothes – Secondhand stores and homeless shelters love getting clothes. For particularly tattered clothes, you can drop off those at Salvation Army where they’ll be broken down and used for things like insulation.
Food – Here is a list of food banks and soup kitchens within Chicago that accept food donations.
Corks – After you’re done with your next bottle of wine, reserve the cork to go to a better place. ReCork offers drop boxes at participating businesses around the city to be transformed into shoes. Click here to view the ReCork box locations.
Hope this post helps bring a second life to your expired materials. Share these resources with others interested in extending their recycling programs too.