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A Parent’s Recycling Guide

Where to recycle toys, plus 5 other items that may not get picked up curbside.

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Recycling can be easy—toss paper, soda cans, glass, and newspapers into the recycle bin—but what about the endless boxes of toys, broken crayons, and outgrown baby gear sitting in the basement? If creating a healthy planet for your children (and grandchildren) is on your mind, explore the many options for diverting kid paraphernalia from the landfill. These ideas are just the beginning:

Toys

Have a box of ready-for-retirement toys? Here’s some good news: the international mail-in recycling organization, TerraCycle, works with manufacturers VTech, Leapfrog, Hasbro, and L.O.L. Surprise! to keep toys out of the landfills. Visit the TerraCycle website to review the program details and a list of accepted toys, then pack everything up and send it in with the downloadable free shipping label.

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Baby Gear

WeeCycle, based in Aurora, accepts donations of new and gently used baby clothing and gear such as baby monitors, bassinets, breast pumps, car seats, and strollers. All gear is checked against the Consumer Product Safety Commission safety recall list to ensure items are safe, then is disinfected and matched to local organizations that share with families in need. Items can be dropped at one of 14 donation locations around metro Denver.

Crayons

According to the National Crayon Recycle Program, more than 12 million crayons are manufactured each day; and because they are petroleum-based, they take many years to biodegrade. Instead of tossing old crayons, send them to the Program (you will cover the shipping cost) and they will turn them into new crayons. The National Crayon Recycling Program also has suggestions for school crayon drives.

Mattresses

Did you know mattresses can be broken down and the parts recycled? For a small fee, Spring Back Colorado in Commerce City and Fort Collins will disassemble and recycle mattresses, box springs, steel bed frames, and mattress toppers. Starting at $30 per mattress or box spring. Pick-up is also available for an additional fee. springbackco.org

Sneakers

Nike’s Reuse-A-Shoe program recycles athletic shoes at the end of their lives, turning them into new shoes, apparel, and Nike Grind sports surfaces including running tracks, turf fields, gym floors, and playgrounds. Any brand of used athletic shoes can be donated for free at participating Nike retail stores.

Socks

Smartwool’s Second Cut Project keeps socks out of landfills, and works with Material Return—an organization that has reclaimed nearly 1.5 million pounds of textiles—to repurpose them in new products like filling for dog beds. Add a free Take Back mail-in bag to your online cart at checkout, fill it up with any brand or style of clean used socks, and return it using a prepaid shipping label. smartwool.com

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6 More Places That Keep Castoffs Out of Landfills

Center for Hard-to-Recycle Materials (CHaRM) in Boulder takes a variety of household items.

GoodBuy Gear, started by two Denver moms, accepts baby and kids gear and toys. They will help you resell or donate it.

H&M Garment Collecting program allows shoppers to drop off clothing at store locations.

Happy Beetle is a local subscription-based pickup service for hard-to-recycle items.

Libraries often collect gently used books, CDs, DVDs, and Blu-rays for their collection or annual book sales. Denver Public Library allows up to two boxes.

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SustainAbility accepts a variety of hard- to-recycle items, and items for reuse.

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