8 things you didn't realize could be recycled

If you're already an avid recycler, congrats and thanks! You're helping to make the world a better and more sustainable place by doing your part to reduce, reuse, and recycle those plastics, paper, metal, electronics, and other products we too often depend on to make our lifestyles modern and comfortable.

However, even the most dedicated do-gooder might not realize just how many of your daily wares can be tossed in the blue box instead of general disposal.

Cardboard cartons -- Sure, you knew the plastic milk jugs could go in the recycling bin, but did you know that many cartons can often be repurposed as well? From heavy cream to broths to juice boxes, many companies are now producing cartons that can be recycled, so check the labels next time you crack open a carton of eggs or O.J.!

Toy wrappers -- Even those half-plastic-half-cardboard pouches so many handheld toys come in might have a place in the recycling bin. What with separating out the window for so many facilities' recycling requirements, a lot of these products can be tossed in as-is, too.

Produce bags -- Most people probably know that plastic grocery bags can be recycled, but the same is true for those produce bags that some use to gather their smaller vegetables or beans. Ditch the dump and put 'em back into rotation by recycling those, too. Once they're gone, switch to reusable produce bags.

Receipts -- When it comes to check stubs, receipts, old bank statements, and personal documents, the shredder is your friend, and so is the recycling bin. So after you slice those statements into bits to protect your identity, don't be afraid to add them to the green pile for reuse.

Phones -- Many retail stores now accept trade-ins for old phones for a few dollars to go towards a new phone purchase, but even those that don't have much financial worth could still be quite valuable to someone in need. Many domestic violence victim protection organizations are in need of phone donations to help set up fleeing families with new communication devices, so consider donating your old phones to a good cause instead of letting them collect dust in a drawer. For those electronics which are no longer operational, though, some retailers have begun collecting "e-waste" to reuse what portions of those devices might be salvageable rather than sitting in a dumpster somewhere.

Ink cartridges -- Old ink cartridges don't have to go to the curbside once they're empty; some office suppliers will offer a discount on new cartridges for those who turn in old cartridges for recycling.

Disposable plates and cups -- You might be surprised to discover that those disposable party plates, cups, and even some plastic "silverware" can sometimes be cleaned and recycled, rather than thrown directly into the trash bin. While reusable stemware and dishes are much more eco-friendly than those single-use items, when that's not an option, keep an eye out for those paper and plastic items which can be recycled rather than committed to the landfills and give 'em a quick rinse to recycle and save some trees.