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What Should I Do With...?

Check out our Local Donation Directory. 

Looking for creative reuse ideas? 


American Flags 

    There is a collection box at Alpha Ridge Landfill for old and worn U.S. flags that need to be retired. Representatives from the American Legion Adams, Hanna, Moore Memorial Post 156, will retrieve the flags and make sure they are disposed of in a dignified fashion as required by the U.S. Flag Code. Disposal ceremonies will be conducted a handful of times each year in coordination with local Scout troops.



    Antifreeze should not be poured down the drain. Antifreeze (not mixed with oil or other substances) can be recycled at the Alpha Ridge Residents' Convenience Center Monday-Saturday 8am to 4pm. Please leave container for attendant to empty.


    Working appliances should be reused/donated. Check out BGE to earn cash, list them on Craigslist or FreeCycle, schedule a pick-up from Habitat ReStore in Columbia or The Loading Dock, or simply put them at the curb with a FREE sign. For non-working appliances, schedule a scrap metal collection (call 410-313-6444) or take appliances to the scrap metal area at Alpha Ridge Landfill. Refrigerators (doors removed), air conditioners and dehumidifiers must be placed next to the scrap metal drop-off so the Freon can be removed.


Baby/Kid's Items Baby Stroller 

    Donate useable items, such a strollers and high chairs to a local charity or second-hand store, or visit BabyEarth.com for a mail-in program. Buy and sell kid's items using ThredUP or toystotrade.com. Have unused diapers? Donate them to DiaperBankNetwork.org. Remove the padding from a car seat and recycle the plastic part at your curb or at Alpha Ridge Landfill.


    Alkaline batteries after 1995 are OK to be disposed of in your regular trash. For other batteries, including rechargeable and button, see our Batteries webpage. 


    Donate bicycles to Goodwill or Salvation Army for reuse. Consider Bikes for the World to donate to less developed countries. If your bike isn't in good condition, contact your local bike store to see if they can use the parts or as a last resort, recycle it with scrap metal at Alpha Ridge Landfill.


    Three-ring PVC binders can be recycled in your curbside recycling or at Alpha Ridge Landfill. Binders that include fabric and zippers should be donated to goodwill or trashed if they are ripped and non-functional.

Books Books 


    Check out BraRecycling.com, a textile company that recycles and reuses used and unused bras. Bras can also be donated to Goodwill, Salvation Army, Purple Heart, Planet Aid, etc.

 Brita Water FiltersWater filter 

    Look for "Gimme 5" recycling drop-off locations or mail them in. For details, visit preserveproducts.com. 


    Millhouse candles accepts unpainted wax (soywax, beeswax, paraffin, tapers, tea light, jars, pillars, scented or unscented - ALL COLORS). Mail donations to Millhouse Candles, P.O. Box 148, Keedysville, MD 21756-0148 or take them to a participating event (check events on their website).



    When shopping, ask contractors if they recycle used carpet. Visit the Carpet America Recovery Effort for details. Effective November 1, 2015, Alpha Ridge Landfill (ARL)  will no longer accept carpet for recycling. Carpet taken to ARL will be disposed as trash and an $80 per ton fee will apply.


    Visit CatalogChoice.org to stop unwanted catalogs. Remember: Reducing waste is better than recycling!

CDs & DVDs and Cases 

    Usable CDs or DVDs should be donated to your local library, Goodwill or The Salvation Army. For kid's DVDs, contact your local pediatric hospital. Or, Murfie stores discs, recycles jewel cases and creates digital versions of your music for you to download. Recycle non-usable CDs & DVDs and cases for FREE at Best Buy stores. Visit Greendisk.com or cdrecyclingforfree.com for mail-in recycling programs.

Cell Phones 

CFL Bulbs and Fluorescent Tubes 

    Please put incandescent bulbs in your household trash and refer to the CFL recycling page for proper disposal of other bulbs and tubes.

Christmas and Holiday Lights Holiday lights 

    Working lights can be donated to Goodwill or Salvation Army. Broken/dead strands can be taken to Alpha Ridge Landfill and recycled with electronics (DO NOT put in your curbside recycling). Or, send them to HolidayLEDs.com or Christmas Light Source and receive a coupon for new lights.

Christmas TreesArtificial Christmas Tree 

Clamshells (plastic) 

    At this time, Waste Management is unable to recycle plastic clamshells due to the way they are manufactured. While we wait for technology and markets, avoid purchasing items in clamshells and consider these reuse ideas to keep those clamshells out of the trash.


    Caring Cleats collects used soccer cleats and redistributes them to the Tarahumara Indian community in Chihuahua, Mexico. Email Kennedy at kennedycitro@verizon.net or call 443-433-2386.


    Donate clothing to local shelters or charities, such as Goodwill and Salvation Army. Or, bring gently used clothing to the Alpha Ridge Landfill for donation. Have items that aren't wearable? Donate them! Many donation organization partner with rag manufacturers. Also check out The North Face's ClothesTheLoop program. 

    Dress Clothes

    Success in Style in Savage Mill collects new or gently worn business clothing and accessories. Dress for Success accepts women's interview attire via mail-in or drop-off. To donate men's interview attire, visit Career Gear or contact Million Dollar Man at 410-465-0295 or mdm2429@gmail.com 

Compressed Gas Tanks 

    Propane, helium & oxygen tanks and fire extinguishers are accepted at Alpha Ridge Landfill. Or, return tanks to the seller.

Construction, Renovation & Demolition Items 

Cooking Oil 

    The Alpha Ridge Landfill accepts vegetable-based cooking oil for recycling. 



    Make new crayons by microwaving old crayon stubs in a paper cup for 15-second intervals. The melted crayon blob will harden into a new crazy and colorful crayon! Or visit CrazyCrayons.com or The Crayon Initiative to learn about a mail-in program for old crayons. Also see "Markers" below.


    Return your old, worn-out Crocs to the Croc store in Arundel Mills or Annapolis.

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    Recycle or donate electronic items. Best Buy and Staples have free electronics recycling (see company links for restrictions). Participating Goodwill locations accept computer equipment. For more options, visit our Electronics webpage

Energy Bar Wrappers, Chip Bags, Juice Pouches  

    Crinkly wrappers from chips and snack bars are not recyclable. However, Terracycle collects wrappers to make handbags, pencil cases and more. Your local school may have a collection program.

Exercise Videos  

Eye GlassesEye Glasses 

    Donate old glasses so they can be worn rather than take up drawer space. Check your local eye doctor, the Columbia Lions Club, or OneSight.org for locations.

Fire Extinguishers 

    Fire extinguishers and other compressed gas tanks such as propane, helium, & oxygen tanks are accepted at Alpha Ridge Landfill for recycling. Also consider returning tanks to the seller.

Food Scraps 

    Compost items such as banana peels, vegetable scraps, coffee grounds and egg shells to make a nutrient-rich soil. For details about a free compost bin, visit our Composting webpage.

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Game Consoles 

    Trade-in video games and consoles at local game stores or EZtradein.com. 

Garden Equipment 

    Garden Harvest collects farm and garden tools for growing organic fruits & vegetables and for donating to Appalachia.

Gift Cards 

Glass Bottles & Jars 

Golf Clubs 


    Grills can be recycled with scrap metal. Call 410-313-6444 to schedule a curbside collection or recycle your grill at Alpha Ridge Residents' Convenience Center (just show your driver's license). You can also recycle your propane tank at Alpha Ridge in the compressed gas tank area. Please do not put gas tanks in the scrap metal area.


    Plastic Hangers Plastic Hangar
    Contact your local donation center to see if they need hangers. Reuse is the best option, but tubular, colored hangers can be placed in your curbside recycling container or taken to the Alpha Ridge Landfill for recycling. Please note that clear, acrylic plastic hangers are not recyclable.

    Wire Hangers
    Contact your local dry cleaner to see if they take back wire hangers or reuse them with these great craft ideas. If you can't find a reuse home, group the hangers together, tape them around the neck and at one spot around the bottom and place the hangers in your curbside recycling. Taping the wire hangers allows them to be more easily separated at the recycling plant.

Hockey Equipment 

    Restore Hockey cleans, refurbishes and repairs used equipment and then donates the items to children, families and organizations.

Household Hazardous Waste 

Ink Cartridges  Ink Cartridge 

    Take ink and toner cartridges to the Howard County Animal Shelter on Davis Road (they recycle and make some money). Or, check out retailers such as Staples, Office Depot, Best Buy, Walgreens and the Post Office. Some offer an incentive coupon. There are also mail-back programs including Dell and Quill

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    At this time, K-Cups are not recyclable in Howard County. However, the coffee inside can be composted in your backyard compost pile. Check out this mail back recycling program and watch a video to learn more about Keurig's sustainability measures.


    Doesn't matter if your set is not complete. IBuyLego.com wants them! 

Light Bulbs 

    Burnt-out incandescent light bulbs can be disposed in the trash. Have CFLs? Please take these bulbs to a customer take-back program at Home Depot, Lowes, My Organic Market (MOMs), Ikea or to an Alpha Ridge Landfill HHW day on Saturdays (April-November).


    Crayola's ColorCycle program works with elementary schools to turn markers into energy. Prang also has a mail-in marker recycling program.

Mattresses & Box Springs 

    Mattresses & box springs can be recycled at Alpha Ridge Landfill. Residents can also schedule curbside bulk item collection by calling 410-313-6444. Mattresses & box springs collected at the curb will not be recycled. If possible, take them to the Alpha Ridge to give them a chance to be made into something new!

Medical and Rehabilitation Equipment Wheel Chair 


    DO NOT flush unwanted medications down the toilet.


    • The Howard County Police Department and HC Drug Free have three permanent medication disposal boxes to assist residents in disposing of unwanted or expired prescription and over-the-counter medications safely and anonymously. These are available daily and year-round.  They are located at the Northern District Station (3410 Courthouse Drive in Ellicott City), Southern District Station (11226 Scaggsville Road in Laurel) and Gary Arthur Community Center (2400 Route 97 in Cooksville). Questions? Call 410-313-3200.
    • Local pharmacies may offer take-back or mail-in programs. Rite Aid, CVS and Giant sell prepaid envelopes that can be mailed to a disposal facility.
    • Place pills or liquid in a plastic zip-top bag with coffee grounds, flour or kitty litter and put the bag in your regular trash. This makes the medicinesMedicine undesirable and prevents toxins from contaminating our drinking water.
    • Looking outside of Howard County? Take advantage of DEA sponsored programs when available. Visit www.dea.gov for dates and locations.
    • Visit www.disposemymeds.org for additional information and details.

    • Once you have safely disposed of the medication, recycle the empty medicine bottles. 

Metal Cans 

Needles (Medical Sharps) 

    1) Place used needles in an empty plastic bottle (ex. detergent bottle) to protect the trash collection crew. When the bottle is full, add the cap and put the bottle in your trash.

    2) Your local pharmacy may offer disposal or exchange services. 

    3) Sharps Disposal Services: American Waste Management (410-276-7400), Biomedical Waste Services(410-437-6590)

    4) Purchase containers for safe mail-in disposal: Sharps Disposal by Mail System, Waste Management MedWaste Tracker, or Stericycle.

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Oil & Filters 

Oyster & Clam Shells 

    Don't just shuck 'em and chuck 'em. Bring your empty oyster and clam shells to Alpha Ridge Landfill for reuse. Shells will be picked up by the Oyster Recovery Partnership and taken to the Horn Point Laboratory Oyster Hatchery where they will be cleaned and reseeded with oyster larvae before being reintroduced into the Bay. Shells can also be taken to the Robinson Nature Center.

Paint Paint Can 

    Here's a paint calculator to avoid leftovers. Hold a paint swap with friends so that usable paint doesn't go to waste. Mix white (or colored) paints together to give walls or furniture a fresh look. Solidify old and unusable paint by adding an absorbent material such as cat litter, shredded newspaper, leaves, sawdust, dirt or a paint hardener. If there isn't much paint left in the can, leave the lid off to air dry. Once solidified, leave the lid off so the contractors can see it's solid and set it out with your regular trash. For more ideas, visit www.ehow.com.


    Place in your curbside recycling or taken to the Alpha Ridge Residents' Convenience Center: newspapers & inserts, phone books, junk mail (even window envelopes), food & snack boxes, books, greeting cards, gift wrap (no foil type), tubes for paper towels & toilet paper, shoe boxes, paper board egg cartons, shredded paper (please secure in paper bag or white/clear plastic bag).

Pet Food/Bird Seed Bags 

    Unfortunately, most are NOT RECYCLABLE. These bags are typically layers of different materials and once those layers are together, it's hard to get components separated so that they can be made into new things. Still not sure? Do the 'tear test'....if you can easily tear the bag and don't see a plastic film layer mixed with the paper, it's good to go for recycling. This holds true for some paper plates and gift wrap too.

Plastic Bags 

    Reduce, Reuse, Recycle - in that order. Use reusable bags so you have less plastic bags. If you already have a few, check out plastic bag reuse ideas. If you can't reuse, then recycle. It's best to take them back to your local retail store. Many locations partner directly with TREX to make plastic wood. Here's a plastic bag/film cheat sheet with more.

Plastic Containers and Items 

Pots and Pans  Pots and Pans 

Roofing Shingles 

    Shingles can be recycled at the Alpha Ridge Residents' Convenience Center (tipping fee will apply). Did you know? One normal-sized roof recycled into road mix makes about 200 feet of a two-lane highway (Earth911).

Smoke Detectors Smoke Detector 

    Return smoke alarms to the original supplier. For the address, check the product warranty or user manual or see our company list. For more information, visit www.epa.gov.

Sneakers Sneakers 


Solar Lights Solar Lights 

    Recycle solar lights and get money for your next purchase. Visit Your Solar Link.

Sports Equipment 


Stuffed Animals 


Styrofoam™ Packing Peanuts Styrofoam Peanuts  

    Styrofoam™ peanuts can't be recycled at Alpha Ridge Landfill. However, local shipping retailers (Mail Boxes Etc, Fedex, UPS) may accept the peanuts for reuse. Visit loosefillpackaging.com for drop-off locations or call the Peanut Hotline at 1-800-828-2214.

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Tennis Balls 

    Donate old tennis balls to your local nursing/retirement community to be used on the feet of walkers. Start a collection drive and Rebounces will repressurize and resell the tennis balls.


    Recycle automobile and truck tires at the Alpha Ridge Residents' Convenience Center. (Commercial haulers see Landfill Fee Schedule). ARL does not accept tires on rims, tires over 4' in diameter or over 15" in width. NOTE: Rims can be recycled in the scrap metal container. Limit of 4 tires per year.


    Donate frayed/stained towels and linens to your local animal shelter (PetFinder.com) or check out these other towel ideas


    Set up a toy swap with friends and neighbors. Donate old toys to Salvation Army, Goodwill or similar donation site. Check out toysfortrade.com, toyswap.com, craigslist or eBay to find new uses for those toys.

Unique Items 

    For unique (or antique) items, check online sale sites such as eBay.com, or search for a local consignment shop.

Vacuum Cleaners 

    If the vacuum still works, please consider donating it. If the vacuum cannot be fixed, recycle it with electronics at the Alpha Ridge Landfill or visit GoVacuum.com to learn about a recycling/payment program.

VHS Tapes, Cassette Tapes, etc. 

    Usable VHS tapes, cassette tapes, CDs or DVDs may be able to be donate to your local library or charity.Visit ACTRecycling.org, Greendisk.com, or cdrecyclingforfree.com for mail-in recycling programs. CDs & DVDs and their clear acrylic cases can be recycled at Best Buy.

Wedding Dresses and Accessories 


Yard Trim 

Yoga MatsYoga mats 

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Other Donation Opportunities 

Swap Sites 

The Baltimore FREE Store  

    This 'store' accepts usable items for donation, including clothing, household items, small furniture and shoes. Most items will then be offered for free to promote reuse. For more details, visit www.baltimorefreestore.org or call 410-340-9004.

Let's work together to keep recyclable
and reusable items out of the trash!

Please send additional websites or locations to awilcom@howardcountymd.gov.

This information is provided as a service to residents.
Howard County does not endorse products, services or vendors.