Happy Earth Day! Think of the earth as you begin your spring cleaning endeavors. Before throwing anything in the trash, consider if it can be reused or recycled. Many companies are doing amazing work recycling used household and yard items.
Hazardous wastes. Local governments have designated areas and days for disposal of household liquid and solid hazardous materials. Cleaning chemicals, paints, oil and other toxic materials can be dropped off for proper disposal. Contact the EPA or your local government for information. Hazardous materials should not be poured down drain or dumped into septic or drainage systems.
Electronics. Most electronics, old TVs, computers, and GPS devices can be donated back to local electronics retailers. Many charitable organizations also accept electronics and will give you a receipt for your taxes. Many schools or daycare centers will accept electronics that are in working order. Most cell phone carriers have designated areas you can recycle old phones, batteries and accessories. Many charitable organizations will also accept phones. Be sure to clear your phone of all identifying data as well as pictures that may be stored in the memory.
Books. Libraries, schools and some hospitals take book donations. Your community may have a used book store or book exchange. There are many online book exchange programs with little or no shipping costs. Textbooks can be sold on separate sites specifically for academic books.
Craft supplies. Schools for young children are always looking for stockpiles of craft supplies. Whether it be an old bag of yarn or a half used bottle of paste, it will be welcome with open arms.
Toys. Most schools, hospitals, or even pediatric medical specialty offices are looking for washable (non-soft) toys in good condition. Even if they cannot use them within their own office, they can distribute toys to children of need. Day cares accept sand toys and other outdoor toys as well. Some preschool and elementary schools will even take old tricycles and bicycles (or training wheels) that are in working order.
Clothing and shoes. There are many places to donate clothing and shoes. Most provide receipts for taxes. Clothing that is in disrepair can be recycled into soft rags for cleaning and polishing. Old blankets and towels can be donated to local humane societies and animal shelters.
Wire and metal. Your local government will have listings for disposal of metals, but some can be recycled. Dry cleaners will take wire hangers. Some schools take metal buttons, beads and keys to hang in the trees and make wind chimes.
Furniture. Sell, donate or recycle. Some can be recycled around your own house and used for other purposes. Cribs can be turned into homework desks by taking off the front panel, raising to the proper height for the child and replacing mattress with a wooden board painted with chalkboard paint or black/green paint with cornstarch added. The old mattress can be added to a child’s play room, fort, or given to the family pet for a raised bed.
Prescriptions. Glasses and contacts can be donated to charitable organizations. Many opticians will accept donations as well. Vitamin supplements and prescription drugs can be disposed of at the semi-annual National Take Back Day. The DEA and local law enforcement join together twice yearly for drug drop off. The next Take Back Day is on April 27, 2013, from 10 AM to 2 PM. You can call 1-800-882-9539 or look on the DEA website for details about collection sites in your area.