How to Recycle Everything

A quick guide to ditching your stuff

05/28/2014

Each year, thousands of items are thrown into trash piles and landfills, creating environmental headaches for future generations. Consider recycling or passing on your unwanted items to others who may have a need for them. Future generations will appreciate a cleaner environment, and others will appreciate receiving items they may need.
 

Electronics

Because technology changes quickly, you may find your family has electronic equipment (mobile phones, computers and computer parts) collecting dust and taking up space. Before throwing away your old device and buying new, consider upgrading your current one. Often your computer hard drive or software can be upgraded to current technology without having to buy a whole new device. If it's not possible to upgrade, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) provides a list of companies who offer buy-back programs or electronics recycling programs where you can dispose of your items safely.
 

Furniture

Recycle your old furniture by giving it to someone who has a need for it. Donate your clean, good quality furniture items to non-profit organizations, such as Goodwill or the Salvation Army. Sell or donate your items to others on Craigslist, eBay, or local Facebook groups. Pass down items to family members or friends.
 

Clothing

Before pitching your old clothing, consider giving it a second home. Sell your unwanted clothing at a garage sale, or take your items to a local consignment shop. If you don't want to sell your clothing, consider donating it to a local thrift shop, clothing bank or family in need. If items are stained or torn, cut them up and use them for cleaning rags.
 

Plastic bags

While plastic shopping bags are convenient, there are now many homes overflowing with excess bags. To prevent bags from coming into your home, consider using reusable shopping bags when you shop. When you do have extra bags, drop them off at retail locations that collect plastic bags for recycling. Can't find a location near you? Check the BagtheBan.com website, which shows the latest on plastic bag legislation and recycling drop off points.
 

Aluminum cans

If you have a recycling program in your neighborhood, aluminum cans are usually accepted. However, you can go one step further and collect your aluminum pop tabs and donate them to help the Ronald McDonald House Charities, a nonprofit organization which houses families while their children are in the hospital. Visit rmhc.org to learn more about the program.
 

Construction and building supplies

Have a garage full of usable, but unneeded, building supplies? Consider donating items to your local Habitat ReStore with your nearby Habitat for Humanity affiliate. The items are sold at a discounted price to help lower-income families, and the profits raised through the store help build homes.
 
Before throwing unwanted items in the trash, be creative. Recycle your old items to save them from the landfill, or sell them for extra cash. Help another family or local nonprofit organization. Each small effort makes a larger impact on the environment for future generations. 

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