Guest post by Rachel Perez at North Star Inbound
If you have been thinking about decluttering, take a look around your home. Do you know how to properly dispose of the items you are looking to get rid of? Throwing some of these common items away will put them in landfills, which are some of the most ecologically-damaging sites on the planet. Landfills produce considerable amounts of dangerous gases, including methane and hydrogen sulfide. Since these are very harmful to people and the atmosphere, it makes sense to put effort into finding other options for disposal.
Thankfully, there are countless means and organizations that will accept and recycle many common household items. And if the item is still in working condition, charitable organizations can ensure your belongings go to a good home.
Whether you’re moving, downsizing, or freeing up extra space, getting rid of your household items will take a bit of planning. With this list in hand, though, you will already have a great head start.
Appliances can be a pain to replace. However, when you need to get rid of household items, especially the big and bulky ones, you need to know where and how to dispose of them.
Refrigerators can be a significant burden to get out of the house. Consider contacting a bulk pickup company to remove it for you. Call around to local recycling centers to see if they accept old fridges. Earth911 is another excellent resource for finding recycling for just about any item.
Unlike a fridge, you can take a microwave to a recycling center on your own. Microwaves that are still in decent condition can also be taken to consignment stores, or sold on local online marketplaces.
3. Washers and Dryers
Many manufacturers of washers and dryers offer their own recycling programs. Additionally, appliance retailers will offer to take and recycle your old washer and dryer when they install the new ones. Some states have municipal or local organizations that will also take your old appliances for recycling or redistribution.
4. Kitchen Stoves
Stoves in good condition can be donated to local charities or consignment shops. Old ones should be recycled as scrap metal. Note, though, if you have a gas stove, call a plumber to disconnect all systems properly before removing the stove.
5. HVAC Systems
If you’re replacing your HVAC system, calling in a professional technician is a smart move. HVAC systems typically contain refrigerant chemicals and need special handling to avoid contamination. Often, these can’t be donated, but they can be recycled for scrap.
Hazardous Household Items
Leftover hazardous chemicals can pose plenty of risks. If you know that you won’t be using paints, cleaners, or even automotive fluids, then they must be disposed of properly. Most chemicals and other hazardous items can’t be recycled, but they can be appropriately disposed of to avoid fees and damages.
6. Automotive Batteries
Car batteries are highly corrosive, flammable, and toxic. As such, they require special handling. Bring your old batteries into local auto shops for disposal. You can also bring them to your local hazardous waste drop-off.
7. Motor Oil/Fuel
As one might think, motor oil and fuel are hazardous. They are flammable, full of toxins, and can injure just on contact. As well, since they can never be dumped on the ground or down the drain, special handling is needed.
Contact local auto stores to see which ones will accept your old fluids. Most cities will also have a hazardous chemical disposal location.
8. Transmission/Brake Fluids
Just like motor oil, these fluids are hazardous. They must be disposed of properly, and should never be poured on the ground or into the water supply. Like motor oil and fuel, these fluids can be taken to auto shops and hazardous disposal centers.
Most paint is considered hazardous waste. So, it must be disposed of properly. Dispose of paints at hazardous material disposal centers. Additionally, PaintCare has drop-off locations in nine states. Also, Habitat for Humanity will often take paint in good condition to help paint new, charitable homes.
Though not as dangerous as automotive batteries, regular batteries also contain hazardous materials. Therefore, they should be brought to hazardous material disposal locations. Many electronic stores and even hardware stores have battery dropoff services.
11. Aerosol Cans
Empty aerosol containers can be recycled. Those still containing products are hazardous and should be brought to a dangerous material disposal center.
Common Household Items
Most common household items aren’t nearly as dangerous as appliances or automotive fluids. There are many additional options to help these items avoid the landfill and see further use.
12. Light Bulbs
Some light bulbs, like fluorescent tubes, contain hazardous chemicals. Some recycling centers may take them; others won’t so be sure to contact your local centers. Hardware stores will often take old bulbs off your hands. Some retailers have onsite disposal services.
13. Food Cartons
Because of food contamination and wax coatings, food cartons aren’t recyclable. Even though they are mostly made of paper and other recyclable goods, they are destined for the trash.
Many charities can take new or gently used backpacks, including Operation Backpack, by the Volunteers of America. As a new school year approaches, many local charities and schools will have backpack drives. Backpacks with more wear can still find further use. Barring any significant damage, take your old backpacks to consignment shops.
Most books are entirely recyclable, but you should consider other options before recycling. For example, libraries, youth centers, or senior communities might take book donations. Some second-hand shops will also take unique or gently used books as a donation.
16. All-Purpose Cleaning Products
Most cleaning products are meant to go down the drain eventually. If you have any products left, empty them and rinse the containers out thoroughly. Never mix chemicals! Once the containers are drained and rinsed, they can be recycled like usual.
17. Kitchen Supplies
High-quality kitchen supplies can often be resold at collectors’ shops or online marketplaces. However, items like plates and cups should be barely used at most, with no visible damage or discoloration. Items that don’t hit that mark, but still have quality use left in them, should be donated to second-hand stores. Anything too old, damaged, or discolored should be recycled.
Donating anything fabric-based is typically on a piece-by-piece basis. Most second-hand shops will take bedding in its original packaging, or those that show absolutely no sign of use. Otherwise, consider donating old bedding and fabrics to homeless and animal shelters.
Old pillows can be troublesome to get rid of. They are often full of non-recyclable materials, so taking them to the recycling center is usually not an option. Throw pillows can be donated. Otherwise, consider organizations like American Textile Recycling Service, which will safely and adequately destroy your old pillows.
20. Prescriptions or Medicine
Prescriptions should always be finished to avoid creating medicine-resistant organisms and prevent accidental poisonings. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, you should never flush your medicines down the drain. If you have medications that you can’t finish, look for local medication take-back services. The bottles themselves can typically be recycled with other plastics.
21. Holiday Decorations
Your holiday decorations may seem to grow year after year, especially if you have trouble getting rid of previous ornaments. The next time you pull out your holiday decorations, take a moment and study which ones spark the most joy. Those should be kept, and the rest should be donated, sold, or recycled.
Many hardware stores will take faulty strings of lights. Around holiday times, local organizations may have collection drives to make sure old plastic parts don’t go to landfills.
Toys can be sold, donated, or recycled. Toys in good condition can be sold on sites like eBay. Likewise, many toys will be gladly accepted at second-hand shops or can be given directly to child charities.
23. Board Games
Like toys, board games can be sold on online shops. Garage sales are another common way to get rid of old items like board games. Local shelters, schools, and libraries may also be interested in your old board games. Just make sure they have all their parts and pieces.
24. Old Magazines and Newspapers
MagLiteracy will accept magazines of any age. They will send out magazine packages to less-fortunate families that have a desire to read. Old magazines and newspapers make great crafting supplies as well.
25. Textile Clothing
Clothing can be sold or donated. If it’s still fit to wear, you might get some money from markets like ThredUp. Consignment stores will take clothes in good condition. You can also donate them to shelters, especially cold-weather items like coats and blankets. If the items aren’t in good condition, you can recycle them at textile centers.
Nearly everything in the house can be donated or recycled. While most of the environmental damage has come from large corporations, we can still do our part. When decluttering or downsizing, think of ways your old items can be used again. Charities are always a perfect destination, but you might even make a few bucks from reselling for certain things. As long as items are kept out of the landfill, you have made the right choice at the end of the day.