Top 5 Surprisingly Recyclable Items - No. 4: Your Mattress

Allison Loudermilk

You can recycle that mattress. It's just going to be a little more involved than recycling your aluminum cans. (Mark Williams/Red Cover/Getty Images)

If you read yesterday's post, you know that I'm on a quest this week to expand your recycling outlook. In fact, HowStuffWorks.com has a bit of a green mission this week. Esteemed podcaster, writer, blogger and general funnyman Josh Clark is writing about five emerging green technologies to watch while green goddess and editor Sarah Dowdey is obsessed with five ways to cut energy costs. Don't worry. Robert's still covering the hard-core science stuff, like cats and babies and swine flu, while we're eco-occupied.

On to the business at hand. Item No. 4 on our list of shockingly recyclable items is, as the post title may have alerted you, your mattress. Instead of setting your queen-size pillow-top mattress on the side of the road for bulky item pickup, why not recycle it? These mammoth sleep aids take up tons of landfill space. They aren't biodegradable. They're flammable, and according to Tom Watson's story in the Seattle Times, they're a pain for landfill operators, who compact all that trash with special equipment.

A mattress can be recycled by dismantling into its component parts, which can be done either by shredding it or slicing it into the steel, polyurethane foam, cotton and other stuff that it's made of, according to Watson. Who will do this for you? Well, a few mattress recycling facilities exist, like the DR3 Mattress Recycling Facility in Oakland, Calif, Bed Busters in San Francisco and others. You can see more at the related story posted on Discovery's Planet Green or when you visit Earth911 and plug in your zip code.

If you can't find one and no local charity organizations are interested in your old mattress, you could always post in on sites like the Freecycle Network where all manner of free goods are offered. There's always craigslist, too, if you think your mattress is in good enough shape to bring you some cash.

See the rest of this week's surprisingly recyclable series here:No. 5: Your Toothbrush No. 3: Your Meds No. 2: Your Mac No. 1: Your Stilettos