I recently received the following email from a neighbor, “Can photographs be recycled? We are scanning all of ours and then discarding the photos (after we offer them to the kids).”

I love getting questions! I also love that they offered their kids the option to review the photos before discarding them. Sometimes artists and crafts-people may be interested in photos, especially if they are of nature, animals, etc. Photos and slides are listed as acceptable donations at Austin Creative Reuse. This link for ACR lists all the items they accept and won’t accept so check it out if you are cleaning out, minimizing, downsizing, etc.

According to What do I do with… for “photographs” on Austin Resource Recovery’s website/app:

Trash collection

Put this item in your trash cart.

Special Instructions

Photo paper cannot be recycled.

If you have “photographic film” that also goes in the trash.


Reduce: be judicious in the photos you do print on photo paper. Take your time editing them for printing.

Rethink: print on office paper, especially if you need the photo for a project, for the short term.

The church images printed on these tri-boards were done on regular office paper and they turned out quite nicely. I think the color photos look very good. We can recycle the whole thing if it gets damaged.

I don’t have much experience with photo books, what those are made of, how often they get looked at, etc. I’ll tell you that I look at the photos in my photo box, the featured image, like once every 3 years and it’s usually to compare my son to a photo of myself at the same age. I’ve never looked in my husband’s photo box except to Tetris the photos to fit in the box better.

We keep all our photos in Amazon Photos and just print one as we need it for school or a family member.

I hope this helps.

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