Friday, July 9, 2010

Getting Rid of Your Junk

Nathanael and I will be moving soon, and even though we tried to only carry things that we really wanted into the apartment in the first place, there are some things that we really should eliminate from our lives instead of carting down into a new climate zone. I am glad to say that most of the things that we will get rid of are things we no longer want because they are seriously worn out (like shoes, toothbrushes, and clothing), but we would still feel really wasteful throwing some of those things away. My old shoes may hurt my knees, but they have so much good rubber on them!
Just in time for moving season I have come across a list of good places to recycle various things that you need to get rid of (In the United States), but would rather not see in the garbage truck. I found most of these websites in the book This Green House by Joshua Piven, which has some fun how to ideas including building a plunger washing machine, making a sink on the back of your toilet, building a bat house, and converting a normal home roof into a growing space.

FURNITURE and building components such as Windows and Flooring
Second Change Inc. will pick up donations anywhere in the Baltimore, Philidelphia or Washington D.C. areas, and even has building deconstruction services so that as little as possible will be put to waste.

COMPUTERS and other Tech items

Depending on where you live, there may be electronic donation bins at goodwill, office supply stores, and some grocery stores; where companies such as Dell or Motorola will collect and re-use components, or refurbish items for schools, libraries or low income families. These items shouldn’t be disposed with household garbage since most contain heavy metals, and honestly, many usable parts which should not just build up in landfills.
Reconnect also has drop boxes around the country which have no limitations concerning brand of hardware, and you can search for locations on their website.


Most people have probably attempted to refill their own printer cartridges, and most people probably gave up and have a small collection of empty ones somewhere. I on the other hand have a collection of new cartridges from printers that broke before I used my purchased ink. Whatever your situation check out Green Disk, where they will accept all kinds of things that you have to admit to yourself are useless to you now that technology has moved on. (Some office supply stores also accept these type things, and will even give you coupons for new items in exchange.)


Most of us are pretty aware of Salvation Army and Goodwill, which will both take virtually any clean clothing donations, in addition to many household and furniture items. Since all of the money from selling those items is used to assist struggling families, you have the option of receiving a receipt for tax deduction purposes. Also, if your clothing is very current in style and only gently worn you may want to search out a thrift store in your area; you may be able to make a good amount of money reselling your items. (I made around $80 one year reselling hand-me-downs I acquired from other people.)
If you have growing children who aren’t too hard on their clothing you might check out Thred Up, where you can swap boxes of kids clothes with other families around the country.
If you have unused girls formal wear you may also want to check out Donate My Dress, The Glass Slipper Project or Enchanted Closet. All three provide prom and formal dance attire for girls who need a little assistance.

I always have the hardest time throwing shoes away. I always try to think of something I could make out of the leather, plastic and rubber, but I have yet to come up with anything. My shoes never fit into the lightly worn category, but if yours do check out Shoe4Africa, which ships your shoes to happy recipients in Kenya, who earn them by winning footraces. If your shoes are like mine consider Nike’s Reuse-A-Shoe, which turns any brand of old sports shoes into rubber playing surfaces for sport fields and playgrounds.

If you’re in a hurry, donating your unwanted books to a thrift store or library is the quickest option, but if you have a little time and is a little too much hassle, check out Paperback Swap or Book Mooch both places allow you to simply enter the ISBN of your books and post them for others to request. If someone chooses your book you ship it and receive a point, allowing you to request any book available. It’s a very straightforward process it gets your books to the people that want them. Nathanael and I have been using our acquired points to order books by George MacDonald and other classic authors.

If you have other things hanging around, check out Earth911, which has tips on how to recycle unconventional items, as well as some other interesting articles on ecomyths, home efficiency and current events. I used this website to find a nearby location where I could drop off used batteries for proper disposal.
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