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Can You Recycle Blinds?

After replacing a house full of old worn out blinds, what do you do with the old ones? I don’t know about you, but we would feel pretty wasteful sending 20 + blinds straight to the landfill. There has to be another way!

How-to-recycle-blinds

How To Recycle Blinds

Like us, you may have googled “How To Recycle Blinds” and come up with lots of conflicting answers. Some websites say to take them to the local recycling center, but if you try this, you’ll probably be turned away. Nearly every major city’s waste services website site has window blinds on the do-not-recycle list along with light bulbs, mattresses, appliances and other odd-ball items.

“Recycling” is one of those words that has many definitions. We can “recycle” our window coverings by repurposing them or donating them although only a few kinds of blinds can truly be recycled and turned into other usable items.

How to Recycle Mini Blinds

how-to-recycle-mini-blinds

Solution: Scrap Yard or Recycle

Aluminum blinds are made with 100% recyclable aluminum and can be taken to any scrap metal yard, or recycling center. If you have vinyl mini blinds, check to see if your recycling center accepts PVC or vinyl. You can check the Vinyl Institute’s directory to find a drop of location near you.

Before you load your car, clean the blinds thoroughly. Hosing them down is a quick and easy way to get this done.

Blinds-cords

Many scrap metal yards and recycling centers won’t accept full blinds, only the aluminum, steel or vinyl parts. Cut the lift cords and ladder cords to free each slat. Remove any components you can from the metal headrail and recycle it as well.

If your local scrap yard won’t accept them, try these ideas for how to reuse aluminum blinds around the house.

How to Recycle Wood Blinds

Any wood that is painted or treated cannot be recycled. Recycling centers and construction resale stores accept cut limbs or leftover lumber pieces, but wood blinds don’t fit the bill.

how-to-recycle-wood-blinds

Solution: Donate or Upcycle

Our best suggestion is to donate any wood blinds you don’t want. If someone else can reuse your blinds as they are, it’s more eco friendly than using the energy it would take to turn them into something else. Read more about donating blinds below.

If you’re not sure what to do with broken wood blinds here are a few ideas: Cut the slats into smaller pieces and make garden makers. Learn How!

Make-chalkboard-garden-markers-from-blinds-slats

Use slats to make a herringbone finish dresser like this one.

Herringbone Dresser Made with Blinds Slats

How to Recycle Faux Wood Blinds

how-to-recycle-faux-wood-blinds

Solution: Donate or Upcycle

Faux wood blinds are made with a mixture of PVC and recycled hardwood which unfortunately cannot be recycled again. If your blinds are in good condition, we suggest that you donate them.

If they’re broken, you could turn the slats into a sunburst mirror.

cg-sunburst-mirror-on-wall_thumb

How to Recycle Roman Shades and Curtains

Any fabric window coverings are a cinch to recycle. The first choice should always be to give them to a friend or donate them. Higher end window coverings are almost always in demand.

how-to-recycle-roman-shades-and-draperies

Solution: Clothing Drop Off

But if your shades are torn or broken you can take them apart to be recycled. Use scissors to cut the fabric away from any hardware or cords. Metal hardware can be recycled at a local drop off center. The fabric can be taken to a clothing donation location like Goodwill, or used around the house for a sewing or decor project.

Resale stores like Goodwill send off fabric scraps and clothing that can’t be sold to factories that turn the fabric into industrial rags and insulation material.Many houses and cars are insulated with a large percentage of fabric scraps. However, if your fabric is wet, mildewed or has been exposed to something hazardous, it’s better to just throw it away.

How to Recycle Cellular Shades

Cell shades are made with a plastic headrail, metal components and 100% polyester fabric. Some polyester fabric is made from recycled materials like plastic bottles, but their recycling is not a closed loop process. The technology does not currently exist to “melt down” the fabric back into other usable items and recycle them over and over again.

how-to-recycle-cell-shades

Solution: Clothing Drop Off

However, polyester fabrics can be shredded and reused as batting for quilts and filler for homes and cars. Cut the headrail and bottom rail off of the fabric and take it to a clothing donation bin or Salvation Army. They sell usable clothing, but send soiled or scrap textiles to be shredded as filler and insulation.

If your shades are still in good working condition, it’s always better to donate them so that they can be used in their current state.

How to Recycle Woven Wood Blinds

Like wood blinds, some bamboo shades are made with stained or treated wood which cannot be recycled. Shades made with untreated wood are still not accepted at wood recycling centers that turn wood scraps and brush into mulch. The threads in woven wood shades can interfere with machinery used to shred wood at these facilities.

how-to-recycle-woven-wood-shades

Solution: Trash or Upcycle

But rest assured knowing that bamboo shades are made with materials that are almost completely biodegradable. They have wooden headrails and are woven together with natural fiber thread, so if they’re thrown out with other trash they will decompose quickly and turn back into an environmentally useful element.

If you don’t want to throw away your bamboo blinds, there are many ways that you can reuse them around the house. Remove the shades from the headrail and turn them into beach mats, a lamp shade, placemats, vase coverings, a wall hanging, or use them as garden screening. In fact, we’ve got a blog post all about it: 10 Surprising Ways to Reuse Bamboo Blinds.

Bamboo Garden Screening

As we mentioned earlier, reusing is always a greener choice than recycling. If your blinds can be used as they are, the energy doesn’t have to be used to turn then into something else.

where to donate blinds

Working blinds are gladly accepted by many organizations. If your blinds have never been used and are still in the original packaging you can take them to a Habitat for Humanity ReStore where they will be resold with other building materials to support Habitat.

If your blinds are used, but still operational, see if a friend or neighbor needs them. Neighbors may have the same size windows and be able to reuse your blinds with no extra work. College kids or newlyweds may gladly accept secondhand blinds while they’re just starting out. Churches, women’s shelters and children’s homes often accept donations of any kind. Resale stores like Goodwill and The Salvation Army may also accept window coverings, or you put them up for grabs on a site like Freecycle.

Before You Donate

Before you give your blinds to anyone else, uninstall them and keep all of the hardware together with the blinds. Clean with a dust cloth or quick spray with the hose. raise blinds fully and wrap the cords up neatly.

Have Other Blinds Recycling Questions?

Send them our way in the comments, or tweet to us @BlindsDotCom!

About Author

Abigail Sawyer

Abigail Sawyer is a Social Media Marketer for Blinds.com. As a newlywed, she’s on the hunt to outfit a new home with all things handmade, preppy and eclectic. Walking in the footsteps of Martha Stewart, she’s happiest when she’s crafting or whipping up a new recipe; although nothing beats curling up with a good book and some Girl Scout Cookies. Chat with her on twitter @BlindsDotCom + @whatabigailsaw and support her rampant pinning habit at @BlindsDotCom + @whatabigailsaw.

14 Comments

  1. Thomas Reply

    So I come here to find out I can’t recycle my vinyl blinds because their broken. Hoping that someone would tell me where I can take them so they won’t end up in a landfill.

    • Abigail Reply

      Great question Thomas! We’ve done a bit of research and it seems that some recycling centers accept vinyl. Recycling centers will not accept full blinds, so cut the slats off of the strings with the method above. Call your local recycling center to see if they take vinyl or check out the Vinyl Institute’s directory to find a location near you: http://www.vinylinfo.org/vinyl/recycling-directory

  2. FS Reply

    I just saw where the Habitat for Humanity Re-store only takes blinds new in the box as do Goodwill and Salvation Army. A couple don’t take blinds with hanging cords either. fs

  3. Wash the blinds…..pfft just scrap them as is.

  4. Pamela Lowery If you just want to shorten them you can remove the bottom slats up to the desired length and reattach the bottom. Should be instructions online for your brand.

  5. Thank you. I have wall to wall blinds but, I'm ready to upgrade to a shorter version.

  6. Just FYI, I just tried donating my old blinds. Goodwill, Habitat for Humanity and Salvation Army do not accept used blinds because they're a safety hazard.

  7. Daniel Stolte Reply

    Awesome. Thank you! I found this site looking for a way to recycle aluminum blinds that my cats tore up, so they're not fit for donating anymore. I'll cut them up and take them to a recycling center.

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