Environmental Health & Safety > Recycling Program > Beyond the Bin Guide

Beyond the Bin Guide

This guide contains options for recycling beyond the usual cardboard and aluminum.

If you're unsure about an item's recyclability, don't toss it in ​and hope for the best. "When in doubt, throw it out" is a good rule of thumb. Incorrectly placed items can cause problems with equipment at recycling facilities, possibly endangering workers and/or contaminating other materials.

Donate (working appliances only):

Salvation Army thrift stores
*Goodwill does not typically accept appliance donations in the Chicagoland area although they do in some other regions.
Many of the EPA Registered Electronics Collectors will accept appliances.

Best Buy accepts many large and small appliances.

Please note the EPA has deemed alkaline and zinc carbon batteries suitable for landfill disposal.

Check out the Call2Recycle directory to find drop off locations near you (most Home Depot, Lowe's, Staples stores and more).

Button & Zipper runs an annual coat drive with many participating locations around Chicago.
Madewell accepts all types of old jeans at their stores - they make them into housing insulation and you get $20 off a new pair!
Many thrift stores accept clothing and textiles EVEN IF they're unwearable (call and ask your location to be sure). These items are sold to textile recyclers to be made into industrial rags, carpet fibers, insulation and more. Check out Nearly New Thrift Store nearby!
Consider donating professional women's clothing to Dress for Success.
Levi's now offers clothing and shoe recycling at all of its mainline and outlet locations in the US. Items must be clean and dry.
The North Face offers recycling for all clothing regardless of brand or condition.
USAgain bins - search for the nearest location on their site.
Consider donating prom dresses to The Glass Slipper Project.
Reusable bags usually get thrown out when they become tattered and worn. Send your bags to Chicobag instead!

Chicago's Household Chemicals and Computer Recycling facility

EPA Registered Electronics Collectors include municipal and private recycling options.
Municipal programs are usually for residents only, whereas private recycling options (Best Buy, Staples) are open to all.

HHW includes all types of household chemicals (cleaners, pesticides) and products containing hazardous materials (smoke alarms, batteries). These items should never be placed in recycling bins. Instead of trashing them, consider bringing them to a designated HHW facility:

Chicago's Household Chemicals and Computer Recycling facility

Some municipalities offer HHW collection exclusively for their residents – check first with your local government. If no such local option exists, the following facilities (as well as the Chicago one listed above) are available to all Illinois residents.

Some of the EPA Registered Electronics Collectors will accept these items.

Best Buy accepts CDs, DVDs (and HD DVDs), Blu Ray discs, E-Readers, video game consoles, controllers, and games.

The Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook County provides a list of places you can recycle all kinds of media.

Cosmetics: Origins accepts empty containers of any brand/type for recycling in their stores. MAC, Lush, Kiehl's and Aveda take back their own empty containers. Bare Minerals, Stila and Jane Iredale offer refillable compacts which can reduce waste.

Nail Polish: Considered HHW and can be brought to HHW facilities that accept it. Chemwise runs a mail in recycling program.

Toothbrushes & Razors: Most are not recyclable. One option is to purchase from Preserve and recycle through their Gimme 5 Program (currently paused).

Feminine Hygiene Products: Consider reusable menstrual cups and cloth pads instead of traditional, plastic-based, disposable products.

You can donate gently used shoes of any size/type in the Share Your Soles bin located in the lobby of the Ray Meyer Fitness & Recreation Center.
Nike accepts no longer wearable athletic shoes at select stores.
There are many great organizations you can donate a no longer needed car to:
UCP Seguin, Vehicles for Veterans, Kars4Kids (also accepts boats, RVs and motorcycles)