9 Everyday Items You Should Never, Ever Throw In The Trash

By: Guest Contributor, Joe Baker


We’re all responsible consumers, right? Still, when something is broken, the temptation is often to just throw it in the trash and be done with it. Don’t do it! Here are nine items you may be surprised to learn should never go into the trash:

Note: Disposing of household hazardous waste (HHW) properly starts by knowing where your nearest HHW facility is. Use recyclenation.com to find local recycling and disposal options for just about anything you can think of. Then, spread the word to your friends and family.


  1. ENN_BatteriesBatteries are small, and therefore easy to toss in the trash. However, even used-up batteries are full of nasty metals and chemicals that can cause serious problems. Drop any non-rechargeable batteries drop off at your local HHW facility.
  2.  Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs (CFLs) are energy-saving, but contain small amounts of mercury, which can contaminate the air we breathe. These should go to your local HHW center, where they will also ensure that valuable parts of the bulbs are recycled.
  3. Glass Thermometers have mostly been edged out by electronic thermometers, but if you do have one lying around, it should go to the nearest HHW facility. The average mercury thermometer contains 500 milligrams of mercury—a serious health hazard if the thermometer is accidentally broken.
  4.  Hair (Human and Pet) may not cause harm when thrown away, but it contains high levels of nitrogen, so why not add it to your compost pile to make great fertilizer? You can also sprinkle it around your garden plants to help keep deer away.
  5.  Motor Oil can contaminate waterways and harm aquatic life, so it’s against the law in most states to pour it down the drain or on the ground. The only proper way to get rid of motor oil is to place it in a plastic container with a tight lid and deliver it to a recycling center, a car service station, or an automotive store.
  6. Oil-Based Paints contain chemicals that can be harmful to humans, animals and the environment. These should never be disposed of in the trash or down the drain; take them instead to your local HHW collection point.
  7.  Old Electronic Devices are made from valuable resources and materials, including metals, plastics, and glass, all of which require energy to mine and manufacture, so why waste all that work? Take all your old electronics to an e-waste center.
  8. ENN_TiresSmoke Detectors need to be replaced every ten years. Ionization smoke detectors emit a small amount of radiation, so they should be mailed back to their manufacturer (after you’ve removed the batteries). Photoelectric smoke detectors can be taken to any electronics recycling facility.
  9.  Used Tires are not considered hazardous waste, but they are a problem material. In most states, it’s illegal to dump them in the trash or on the side of the road. Instead, tires can be recycled at almost any car dealer or tire service center.


Joe Baker is the Vice President, Editorial and Advocacy for Care2 and ThePetitionSite. He is responsible for recruitment campaigns for nonprofit partners, membership growth efforts, and all editorial content. Prior to Care2, Joe was the Executive Director of N-TEN. Joe serves on the Board of Directors of Death Penalty Focus, the Advisory Board of GiveForward.org and volunteers for the Sierra Club and Amnesty International.

 Batteries and tires image via Shutterstock.

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