Recycling the "Weird" Things

What Do I do With....

No matter how hard we try, we all end up with stuff around the house that is past its lifespan, but we don't want to throw it out and we know the Goodwill doesn't want it. So what do we do with these things? The first thing to do is check Metro's Find a Recycler website, where you can enter what you are looking to get rid of and find recycling, donation, and disposal options near you. 

Read on for some tips about some of the most frequent items that come up in the "can I recycle this" conversation when the answer is generally "no".

Athletic Equipment
Most athletic equipment contains plastic, but hard plastic that can't be recycled. Unless you have completely thrashed it, most athletic equipment can be reused or repurposed. You may think no-one wants that old wooden tennis racket, but someone has a clubhouse somewhere that is screaming for vintage athletic decor. Not to mention, sports are expensive. Help pave the way for affordable entry into a new sport for our kids by donating your used stuff:
Play It Again Sports- Beaverton:
Yoga mats and other mats wear down fairly quickly, and you'd be surprised to learn that many of these mats are made from toxic PVC. These absolutely cannot be recycled, but they can live a long life serving other purposes in your house:
  • Take it to the beach or to picnics
  • Cut them up and use them as knee pads for gardening
  • Use them as furniture pads or put them under house plants
  • Donate to animal shelters for bedding

The best solution is to buy a less toxic, long-lasting rubber or bamboo mat. They are more expensive, but at least you won't be inhaling toxics while relaxing in child's pose.

Old cables, chargers, and electronic accessories

Thanks to constantly changing plugs, headphones, chargers, etc, we are ending up with more electronic waste than ever. Obviously, the first step to reducing your waste is to not run out and buy the latest model of phone or tablet every time a new one is released. But, when you do get a new device, don't throw those accessories away. But you also should not keep these items in your homes. Phones, tablets, cables, and chargers, all contain metals like cadmium that off-gas toxins into your home. Luckily, you have options. Walk into any Best Buy and there are a series of recycling bins for phones and cables. Verizon and AT&T stores will also accept old phones for recycling, as will Goodwill and other Oregon E-Cycles locations. But for that tangle of cables, consider these options:

  • Drop off at Best Buy
  • Check with your local Boy Scout troop. Some collect old cables for use in educational settings
  • Ask a friend or family member if they can use them. Many of us need extra chargers and headphones!


Be honest with yourself. How many shoes in your closet do you actually wear? Or are you a runner who has put the 250 on your shoes, but know they would still be fine for someone to wear around town, or be recycled? There is rarely a reason that any shoe should end up in the trash (unless your dog eats it first). There are so many options for recycling shoes:

  • All Shoes:
    • Donate them to Soles4Souls. Dropoff location at RoadRunner Sports in Tualatin.
    • If they are in good shape and fairly stylish, re-sell or donate to a local fashion resale or consignment shop, or use an online option like ThredUp.
    • Donate to a homeless services organization. Winter boots or shoes are particularly appreciated.
  • Running Shoes:
    • Recycle them into new shoes, tracks, and other products through Nike's Reuse-A-Shoe program. Drop off at any Nike store or outlet.
    • Check out Give your Sole, One World Running, and many other organizations who will donate your running shoes to those in need.