Conquering clutter is one of cleaning’s most satisfying victories. But tossing everything into a landfill isn’t exactly a win for the environment. Here’s what to do with those unwanted items, courtesy of Jennifer Berry from Earth911.com, an environmental website featuring a comprehensive list of recycling resources.
Keep landfills from filling up with electronic waste—the fastest growing type of trash in the U.S—with these programs:
All Green Recycling buys and recycles a variety of electronics, offering free pickup services nationwide and hundreds of drop-off locations. The company refurbishes unwanted electronics to sell, and customers receive 70 percent of the revenue.
Call2Recycle offers local drop-off locations to recycle rechargeable batteries (like those found in cell phones and laptops), as well as old cell phones. Metals recovered from the used batteries create new batteries and other products.
Dell Reconnect is a computer recycling program by Goodwill and Dell that allows you to donate any brand of computer or computer gear at nationwide drop-offs.
TechSoup is a nonprofit that provides libraries and other organizations with technology products, such as donated computers.
Clothing and shoes
According to the EPA, Americans throw away more than 68 pounds of clothing and textiles per person each year, says Berry. Local thrift stores and charities are a great place to start, and you can also consider these options.
Soles4Souls collects used shoes to send to those in need worldwide; drop shoes off at locations nationwide or mail.
Clothingdonations.org is a service of Vietnam Veterans of America that picks up clothes in 30 states to help support programs for vets.
Dress for Success helps disadvantaged women get back on their feet by providing professional attire. Donate suits and accessories at drop-off locations nationwide.
Salvation Army USA has hundreds of nationwide drop-off locations for adult and children’s clothing.
Baby and children’s gear
Music Go Round has over 900 locations throughout North America where you can sell or trade used musical instruments.
Once Upon a Child buys outgrown kid gear—such as clothing and highchairs—for cash, and has more than 240 locations nationwide.
Play It Again Sports buys used sports equipment and resells it for a profit—sellers either get cash or can trade for other items.
Purple Heart Pickup is part of the Military Order of the Purple Heart Foundation, a nonprofit that funds organizations for wounded veterans. They offer free pickup on a multitude of household items in New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia.
Medications are considered Household Hazardous Waste (HHW), so they’re not suitable for your trashcan, and it’s never okay to flush them, says Berry. You can call your local HHW facility to confirm they take medications, or search for a local facility at Earth911.com. Many pharmacies also offer drug take-back programs.
There are a few ways to handle your old paint, depending on whether or not it’s still usable. The National Paint and Coating Association suggests donating usable paint to local charities like Habitat for Humanity, church groups, or theater organizations. If it’s dried out, contact your local HHW facility for proper disposal, or search for one at Earth911.com.