20 Things You Should Never Throw Away

20 things you should never throw away

When something breaks or stops working, it usually ends up in the trash. What most of us don’t realize is that a lot of these things are classified as “household hazardous waste,” which actually means it is dangerous to throw it away.

Then we have those weird things that look like they could be recycled, but we’re not sure: what ends up in the trash too. Bad option! Last but not least, everything that ends up in the trash but could continue to be used by someone else.

That is why we have compiled this list. Using it you will be able to know which things are too dangerous to be thrown away, which others are recyclable and which others can have a second life, and what to do with all of them.

  1. Batteries and batteries.
  2. Light bulbs and fluorescent lights.
  3. Medications not consumed or expired.
  4. Grease, vehicle oil or cooking oil.
  5. Computer science and electronics.
  6. Home appliances.
  7. Human or animal hair.
  8. Aerosol cans.
  9. Paints and solvents.
  10. Lighters.
  11. Brita water filters.
  12. Thermometers
  13. Pesticides and insecticides.
  14. Cleaning articles.
  15. Cosmetics.
  16. Tires
  17. Old appliances.
  18. Clothes.
  19. Glues, glues and adhesives.
  20. Coffee capsules.

1. Batteries and batteries.


Batteries and batteries – even dead ones – are full of chemicals that can seep into the water supply system, causing serious health and environmental problems if they end up in the landfill. Take the batteries to a recycling container that is already installed in most stores and supermarkets. They can be deposited in the containers: Alkaline batteries, Flask batteries, Button batteries, Cell phone batteries, Camera batteries, Emergency light batteries and portable tools,… Some material can be recovered from the batteries, such as cadmium.

Car or motorcycle batteries will have to be taken to a clean point, since the filtering of acids, chemicals and metals that the battery contains on the ground can be highly toxic. By recycling car batteries, most of the lead ingots are obtained to continue manufacturing other batteries or other materials.

2. Light bulbs and fluorescent lights.

Low consumption anti-mosquito bulb

Traditional incandescent and halogen bulbs cannot be recycled, but are considered non-toxic, so they can be thrown away or reconverted – ideas for recycling traditional bulbs. Fluorescent lamps contain toxic mercury; That is why they must be treated separately, they must never be thrown away. Some large retailers – like IKEA – offer CFL recycling services for bulbs purchased at their stores. In Spain there is selective collection through the Ambilamp association, on its website you can check the collection points. Most LEDs are safe and can be recycled – check the packaging for details.

3. Medications not consumed or expired.


There are many people who are tempted to dispose of unused medications by flushing them down the toilet, down the drain, or straight into the trash. DO NOT DO IT! Doing so allows these powerful medications to seep into soil and water, where they can wreak havoc on the environment.

Medicines can be deposited in pharmacies, SIGRE Points. We can deposit at SIGRE points: Expired medications, Non-necessary medications, Medicine boxes, Empty containers or with remains.

4. Grease, vegetable oil or cooking oil.

Used oil can be a big problem for waste treatment plants. Pouring it down the drain or sink is an even worse idea, it is very difficult to separate it from the water and that makes the tasks of the purifiers difficult. Once treated, it can be recovered to make biodiesel and soaps. There are specific collection points.


Companies like Reseave collect used oil to turn it into glycerin or biodiesel.

Cooking oil is one of the main ingredients to make your own homemade soap.

If for whatever reason, you have no choice but to throw the oil away, put it in a plastic bottle and close it tightly.

Used vehicle oil, due to its high polluting power, requires special treatment and can later be used as fuel.

5. Computer science and electronics.


Digital cameras, computers, televisions, printers, iPods, MP3 players, mobile phones, tape loaders, DVDs, CDs, video and audio, pagers, ink cartridges, and other electronic devices – all that electronic waste contains dangerous substances like mercury, lead, cadmium, beryllium, among others. Not to mention valuable metals like gold, silver and platinum. Find a suitable clean point for recycling.

6. Household appliances.

bottle rack with fridge door

Used or broken appliances (such as refrigerators, air conditioners, and freezers) contain refrigerants, foam insulation, and other substances that are harmful if released into the atmosphere. Donate to charity or take them to a facility that recycles these types of devices.

Stores that sell appliances are required to collect old appliances for recycling. Before making the purchase, it is advisable to inquire at the chosen establishment about the conditions of the collection. Normally, when the store installs a new refrigerator, it automatically removes the old one, but when it comes to small appliances, such as mixers or televisions, that the same consumer takes from the store, some shops only give the possibility of picking up the old appliance the moment of payment of the new product (they do not accept subsequent collections). Before checking out, ask at the store. The environment, on which we all depend, will thank you.

7. Human or animal hair.

Hair is full of nitrogen, about 15%. It can be leveraged by adding it to your compost pile to help create cheap fertilizer for your inedible plants.

8. Aerosol cans.

Aerosol cans contain chemicals that make them very unsafe. We must ensure that they are completely empty before recycling.

All neighborhoods should have a collection service or clean point for these types of products, which if not recycled properly are highly polluting.

9. Paints and solvents.

A single container of paint can contaminate millions of liters of water

The paint or solvent residues, as well as the brushes or rollers that were used are flammable and toxic and should be taken to a local hazardous waste collection center.

10. Lighters.

Plastic lighters, most with a little excess gas, are dangerous and flammable. So make sure they are completely empty before you throw them away. It is advisable to use rechargeable lighters, we would considerably reduce the waste generated.

11. Brita water filters.

Do not throw them away. This company has a recycling system, through which you can send free of charge for recycling from 6 filters.

12. Thermometers.


Mercury can become a health and environmental hazard if accidentally broken (as is often the case with what you throw away). If you are going to change it, the old one must be taken to a clean point.

13. Pesticides and insecticides.

They have a very serious effect on treatment stations if you flush them down the drain. According to the managers of the sanitation networks, they cause the highest emission rates in collectors and public sanitation. Nor can they be thrown away, they are highly polluting for the earth. Check at your closest clean point. Learn how to make organic pesticides.

14. Cleaning supplies.

cleaning products

Unless you make your own from natural products or buy eco-friendly or biodegradable cleaning supplies, conventional cleaning products are full of dangerous chemicals. Do not flush them down the toilet, you run the risk of corrosion in the pipes and you are guaranteed to poison a lot of fish and contaminate the wildlife at the end of the chain. These products reach the treatment plants without any control. The recommendation is that you buy natural products or ecological cleaning products. Learn how to make a lemon cleanser. Baking soda and hydrogen peroxide will also be very useful in home cleaning, two very cheap and effective products.

We recommend these  homemade recipes for an ecological cleaning.

15. Cosmetics.

Conventional cosmetics contain chemicals that are not removed by water treatment. Even when empty, cosmetic product containers cannot be recycled due to the mix of materials from which they are made. Fortunately, there are cosmetic recycling programs, ask at your usual store and they will surely be able to help you.

16. Tires.


It is illegal to throw tires away. Tires are not considered hazardous waste, but if they are not recycled properly, they do pose threats. In your workshop they can help you to recycle tires correctly, in Spain there is a free selective collection system for tires.

17. Old appliances.

cat bed with television

Any old device that we no longer need, we must take it to a clean point for its correct recycling. Its components in most cases, prevent them from being thrown away directly.

18. Clothing.


Do not throw clothes in the trash. You have many recycling options. First, if the clothes are in good condition, you can donate them to those most in need. If the clothes are not in good condition, there is selective collection for their transformation.

You can even transform the clothes that you no longer wear into others that you are going to do, for example a rug or even transform dad’s shirts into girl’s dresses.

19. Glues, glues and adhesives.

You must take them to a clean point for their correct elimination.

20. Coffee Capsules.

recycling coffee capsules

If you use these coffee capsules, there are manufacturing companies that also collect the used capsules for later recycling. Find out before throwing them away.

But above all and more importantly, reduce or reject the purchase of all these types of products.

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