Did you know that the average American throws away 4.5 pounds of trash a day! Think about it – with over 318 million people in the U.S., we throw away 1.4 billion pounds of trash each day! Yes, billion!

Thankfully more and more people are looking for recycling options for things that were formerly destined for the landfill.

Had enough of your stuff? Please don’t throw it in the trash! There are numerous resources available to recycle or donate your unwanted items. If you don’t know how to recycle your stuff the green way, read on.


First, check your town or city’s website to review their recycling guide. Many towns will take a large variety of recyclables at the curb. In most areas, you can recycle plastic, glass, some metal, aluminum, paper, and cardboard at the curb or at your town recycling center. Some towns will have certain drop off days for specific items, like hazardous items and electronics. If you’re lucky enough to live in an area with single-stream recycling (SSR), all recyclable items can be put out for collection together. So, check there first to see what you can easily recycle through your town.


If your town or city doesn’t offer recycling, or if you need to recycle something that’s not on their list, check out Earth 911; Simply enter your zip code and the type of item you are recycling and it comes back with a list of local resources.

If anything you’re getting rid of is in good shape and usable, then donate it. If you donate items to a charity, you can take a tax deduction. Use this Valuation Guide to determine the value of the items and be sure to get a receipt from the charity:

Because there are so many resources out there, it is sometimes difficult to figure out the best place to send your unwanted items. To help you out, here’s a handy list of recycling and donation resources for the most frequently discarded items. No matter which you choose, you’ll be getting rid of things in a green way – and feeling good about not adding to the trash pile!

Donation Resources
Use these resources to donate items that are still in usable shape. Don’t forget to take a tax deduction!

Building Materials
Remodeled your kitchen? Replaced your windows? Demo with care and these items do not need to go into the landfill. Check online for local resources or try Habitat for Humanity.


Cell Phones
You can recycle old cell phones at electronics stores, but if they work, donate them here: Cell Phones for Soldiers

If you have some newer articles, try consigning them and turn your threads into cash. And, any clothing in good, wearable condition can be donated to these charities:

Red Cross

Planet Aid



Formal Dresses and Wedding Gowns
Donate your prom dress, bridesmaids dress or formal gown to these charities that give them to people who can’t afford to buy one:

Antons Cleaners

Becca’s Closet

The Angel Gowns program takes wedding dresses and makes them into baby gowns to provide comfort for bereaved families.

Furniture, Appliances and Household Goods
If it’s something in your house, you can likely donate it to one of these charities. Call them for a pick up.

Salvation Army


Habitat for Humanity

Vietnam Veterans Association

Household linens
Blankets, pillows, towels, bedding are needed buy people who have lost their homes. The Red Cross – will take them along with clothing and shoes, too. You can also donate these items to your local animal shelter or veterinarian – call first to confirm what they will accept.

Stuffed Animals
Give your unwanted stuffed animals to a these charities and they’ll go to children who have been in an accident or lost their home., Project smile also takes children’s books, coloring books and crayons.

There are many resources to donate toys, check locally and try these locations: Local Shelters and Children’s Centers, Preschools and Nurseries, Church Charities, Toys “R” Us. If the toys are new, you can donate them to Toys for Tots.

Ideas for the things that you can’t just recycle at the curb:

While electronics stores will take lithium batteries to recycle, many won’t take alkaline batteries. Use this guide to find out where you can recycle them: Energizer.comClothing, Linens, Textiles that are not usable
Clothing in good condition should be donated. If you have any ripped, torn, stained clothing, old linens or textiles you can try these resources: American Textile Recycling Service, Council for Textile Recycling, Planet Aid.

Electronics (computers, phones, printers, monitors, etc.)
Big electronics stores will take many types old electronics to recycle, but some charge a fee. Check their list first. Best Buy, Staples.

Expired medication needs to be disposed of carefully. Here are some guidelines from the FDA

From nails to bed frames, to old pots and pans, you can recycle just about any metal item through a scrap metal recycling center. Some will even pay you for the metal. Check online for local recycling centers or use this guide to sell your scrap metal.

Plastic Bags
You cannot recycle these at the curb with other plastics. Many grocery and retail stores have a bin where you can put your bags to be recycled. If you don’t have one in your area, check out this website to find locations near you:

Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors
Remove the battery dispose of it at a hazardous waste disposal event or facility.

Styrofoam is not easy to recycle. Use this guide to help you:

Televisions (CRT)
There is often a fee involved with recycling old TVs. You can find a location here:

This is an unusual one, but it’s come up a lot lately, so I thought I would include it. There are places that will re-use your old trophies. Lamb Awards, Nationwide Trophy Recycling.

Or, would you rather just give something away and be done with it? Try one of these resources for giving away just about anything:
Facebook Marketplace:

Now, go ahead and de-clutter! You can feel good about your green disposal.


For more great advice about home organization, visit OrganizingU.