Yes, You Can Recycle These 5 Unusual Items!

You know how to recycle items like paper and cans, but what about coffins or bras? No joke—you can recycle them! Check out these tips for recycling some uncommon items you never knew could have a second life.

When we think of recycling in a traditional sense, newspapers, bottles, and aluminum cans come to mind. But did you know you can recycle these unusual items as well? 

Recycle These 5 Unusual Items

1. Bras

It can be difficult to recycle brassieres, as many nonprofit thrift shops won’t take undergarments with your donation of clothes. But several organizations have popped up to recycle bras for needy people around the world. Now you can clean and pack up your old bras and send them to groups that will distribute them around the world or shred and recycle them into new clothing. Check out one effort at

2. Prostheses

While prosthetics are generally not recycled for use in the United States, the Amputee Coalition reports that numerous charity organizations collect used prosthetic limbs for distribution around the world. To find a group that accepts prosthetic limbs and gives them to landmine victims or others in need, go to the Amputee Coalition website.

3. Packing Peanuts

If you have boxes and boxes of the Styrofoam packing material, now you can find someone to reuse it. Fact: Packing peanuts are 99.6% air, according to the Plastic Loose Fill Council, whose members manufacture the fly-away foam that protects items during shipping. But that .4% of polystyrene material can be problematic to reuse. The trade group has solved the problem through a network of drop-off sites. For more information, call the 24-hour Peanut Hotline at 800-828-2214 or visit the website,

4. Caskets

Cremation is the huge trend in the funeral industry. Experts estimate the number of people choosing cremation over direct burial is nearing the 50% mark. And this change is allowing the recycling of the most expensive part of the funeral process: the casket. Rent a casket and it can be recycled over and over again, preserving natural resources and slowing the expansion of cemeteries on valuable land.

5. ‘Tis the Season!

OK, this one isn’t so unusual, but we didn’t want you to forget that you can recycle your Christmas tree each year! The National Christmas Tree Association has some great tips and ideas on how to recycle and repurpose to your live trees after the holidays. We’ve also got some tips here.

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Jim Kneiszel

Jim Kneiszel is a freelance writer based in De Pere, Wisconsin. He edits a number of trade publications and runs The Word House with his wife, Judy. His article, Infuriating and Frightening Invasive Species appears in the 2021 Farmers' Almanac.

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We rented a casket for my mother’s funeral. She was cremated so her ashes (that were in a box) were placed inside then removed after the funeral.

Nashville Girly

Remains are placed into a basic pine box before internment.

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