Think Before You Throw - Common Household Items that can be Recycled

Nov 29, 2018

By Chloe Helton, Industry Affairs Coordinator

Let’s do a quick survey – how many trash bins do you have in your home? Now, how many recycling bins do you have? Odds are, one of these numbers is greater than the other. Why is that? You’re likely throwing away paper products or packaging that can be recycled. A 2014 Community Access Survey conducted by Louis Berger Group, Inc., for AF&PA found that 96 percent of Americans have access to curbside and/or drop-off paper recycling. 

Recycling doesn’t have to start and stop in the kitchen. Many household paper products and packaging commonly located in the bathroom, office or even right at your front door can be recycled.

Common household paper items and materials that are recyclable include:


  • Cardboard tubing from toilet paper
  • Paper packaging used for toiletries such as a toothpaste box, bar soap box or tissue box
  • Boxes used for over the counter medicine


  • White and colored paper; printing paper, stationary paper, notebooks
  • Professional journals and trade magazines
  • Books (paperback) – your old books still have a chance at a new life by donating them to a library but for those that have been worn down, a new life awaits for them through recycling

Front Door:

  • Your mail including envelopes, postcards, coupons and advertisement mail
  • Magazines and catalogs
  • Newspapers
  • Cardboard boxes used for shipping items purchased online, like those from Amazon or Target


  • Paper packaging from food items such as cereal or pasta boxes
  • Milk or juice cartons
  • Paper shopping bags from retail stores or restaurants
  • Tubing from paper towel rolls

More than twice as much paper and paper-based packaging is recycled than is sent to landfills. And for every ton of paper that is recovered, 3.3 cubic yards of landfill space is saved. That’s roughly the size of almost two large refrigerators. Help keep the cycle going by making recycling more convenient in your home. We recommend placing recycling bins in common areas of your home; where you go through your mail, in your home office, bathrooms and the kitchen are all great places. Check with your local municipality to be sure if an item is accepted in your area and for instructions on how to properly recycle items in your area. And always ensure before placing a paper-based item in your recycling bin that it is dry, clean and free of food residue. Now that you’re in the know, think before you throw.