Reuse, Reclaim, Recycle – an obsessively thorough guide to recycling nearly everything. Part 1

Donating a car to VOA is the ultimate in recycling!

Here at we are big fans of recycling. Donating a car to charity like Volunteers of America is one of the most effective kinds of recycling anywhere. Not only are you helping us provide funds for the millions of people we help every year, you are also giving your car a second (or third or fourth) life.

Let’s face it, as Americans the amount of trash we throw away is staggering. The average American throws away 1500 pounds of trash every year. Look around you – nearly everything you see and own can be given a second life through recycling. For some items it means breaking them down into the plastic, glass or metal they are made of. For others it can mean giving them to others to enjoy. This guide is part 1 of a series that will help you cut down on waste in landfills and bring new useful life to countless household items.

Aerosol Spray Cans:

If your aerosol can is completely empty you can drop it off at a nearby recycling facility or put it in your curbside recycling bin. More than 5,300 communities in the USA offer curbside recycling. Some communities even offer buy-back programs for aerosol cans and will pay you a few cents for every can you return. If you want to recycle your spray can, just pull the spray cap off and make sure the can is empty.

Antiperspirant or deodorant sticks:

Take a look at the bottom of your antiperspirant. If it has a dial on the bottom, it’s likely that dial is made from a non-recyclable plastic. Simply remove it before you place the applicator in the plastic recycling bin. The Tom’s of Maine brand sells deodorant stick whose packaging is made solely of recyclable plastic #5, and Kiss My Face makes a roll on applicator that is completely biodegradable.


Give your old backpack a second life by donating it to the American Birding Association. They’ll give it to a scientist who will use it while they track neotropical birds. Also, look for events hosted by the Great American Backpack Exchange where you can bring a gently used backpack or book bag for use by students and needy children.


It is essential that you recycle batteries. Single use household batteries are manufactured using materials that are hazardous to the environment. But they are also recyclable. Look in the yellow pages or online for a household hazardous waste facility close to home. Many stores also recycle batteries – office supply stores, hardware stores and auto supply stores to name a few. Many of these stores are also collection centers for rechargeable batteries. Car batteries contain toxic chemicals and metals like lead, so you can’t put them in landfills. Thankfully almost any store who sells car batteries will collect them for recycling.

Beach Balls:

Yes beach balls are plastic. Unfortunately, at this time there aren’t any official Beach Ball Recycling Centers that we know of. But there is a good way to recycle your old beach ball – stick a patch on it and give it away, or donate it to a thrift store. Hopefully near a large body of water.


It’s usually easy to recycle paperback books – just put them in your curbside recycling bin. Same thing with hardcover books, with an extra step. You have to remove the cover first. But without a doubt the best way to recycle a book is give it to someone else to read. Here are a few ideas along that line: Donate used books to a library or school. Donate them to a hospital, hospice or assisted living center. Give them to a charity thrift store. You can even trade your books with other readers, or sell them on eBay or Craigslist.

Carpeting (nylon):

The Carpet America Recovery Effort is an group whose mission is to recycle carpet and keep it out of the dump. Go online to to find a carpet reclamation partner close by. While you’re on the site check out the cool counter that ticks off how many pounds of carpet have been kept out of a landfill while you read the page. Several carpet manufacturers also offer carpet recycling programs – Flor, Shaw and Milliken to name a few.

Keep your eye out for the continuation of this exhaustive How To Recycle list, and in the meantime, if you have an old car, recycle it by donating to Volunteers of America.  Whether you’re looking to donate a car in Washington DC, are thinking I want to donate a car in Michigan, want to donate a car in New Jersey, Pennsylvania or Delaware, or are looking to donate a car in Virginia, Maryland or Nevada, just click here to donate a car, or call us toll free at 877-721-4862. You’ll give new life to the car, and to all the people you’re helping!

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