recycle old promotional items

How to Recycle Old Promotional Items

I heard a friend say the other day she can’t remember the last time she bought a T-shirt. Yet she has dozens of them. We seem to just acquire T-shirts, perhaps from participating in marathons, attending conferences, or being really good at catching things fired out of cannons. T-shirts are a popular promotional item, and for good reason. You put your logo or tagline on apparel and your customers enthusiastically help with your marketing. But eventually… T-shirts wear out. As do all sorts of everyday items. Have you thought about how to recycle old promotional items?

Business Insider said, in 2015, “Americans are sending more than twice as much trash to landfills as the federal government has estimated.” We average five pounds of trash per day, each.

In addition to T-shirts, you may tend to accumulate tote bags, coffee mugs, water bottles, bottle openers, mouse pads, flash drives… you get the idea. No matter how well an item may serve you, it will wear out. It’s likely bound for a landfill. So instead of chucking your old stuff, here’s how to dispose of it more responsibly.

Curbside Recycling

You may be able to recycle old promotional items without leaving the house. Recycling programs vary from one community to the next, but many offer free or low-cost curbside pick-up. Virtually all handle paper or cardboard waste. Others may handle glass, metals, and various types of plastic. Google resources in your county or municipality.

Most plastic items are marked with a symbol containing a number one through seven, inside a circle of three arrows. For example the number “1” is found on most plastic water and soda bottles, indicating these are usable by most all curbside recycling programs. It’s not necessary to know what all the symbols mean; your local program will tell you which numbers it can manage.


Community Recycling

If curbside pick-up isn’t available in your community, look for a spot where you can drop off recyclable items. Visit this site and enter your ZIP code to find one. Listed centers may accept everything from landscaping materials to old appliances! Recycle old metal items like nail clippers, key chains, wine openers, and carabineers.

There are some who accept fabric (like those old T-shirts we were talking about). Old clothing can be turned into furniture stuffing, upholstery, or insulation. However, you might opt to donate clothing instead. Here’s how…



If you can’t recycle old promotional items, consider donating them. Donate still-wearable items to your nearest thrift store; some of them even pick up! Even worn, ripped old clothing can be used by someone. Quilts of Valor and Project Linus are both examples of charities that turn old fabrics into quilts–for service members and for children, respectively. A quick Google search can turn up many other options as well.

Donation possibilities go beyond clothing. Thrift stores welcome worn but still usable games, toys, and office accessories. Drop off computer equipment of any brand to Goodwill, and Dell will recycle it through its Reconnect program. Schools and children’s charities may accept old crayons, pens, and other writing utensils.


DIY Fodder

DIY projects are a great way to spend time with kids or friends, or just enjoy your alone time. Browse our blog for ideas on how to make DIY Halloween decorations or holiday cards. Or hit Pinterest for infinite DIY project ideas. You will discover uses for all kinds of “trash.” You’ll not only reduce your contribution to landfills but find a fresh creative outlet. For example, here are twelve ways to reuse plastic cups. Don’t forget magnets. Old magnets cannot be recycled, but they can be upcycled and make great gifts.



Composting is the natural breakdown of organic materials. Although it’s cheap and easy to do at home, not many promotional items will fit the requirements. However, anything made of entirely biodegradable materials, like our biodegradable planters, will break down as compost. And here’s one you may not think of — wine corks! Real cork is a natural material, so you can toss it in your compost bin. Use your compost in your garden or flower beds.

We hope we’ve inspired you to reuse and recycle all kinds of items. You may find many more ideas out there on the internet or think of your own.


IMAGE: Enokson via Flickr / CC 2.0

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