5 Eco-Friendly Ways to Dispose of Common Household Goods
By Rachel Perez, Guest Contributor
In commemoration of World Environment Day* this month (observed annually on June 5), we’re highlighting some simple ways to make an impact locally, starting with your home.
Keeping a fresh and tidy home is a great aspect of living a healthy life. However, there are many times that call for the removal of some everyday household things. Items like clothes and toys accumulate over time, and electronics are regularly outpaced by newer models. In other words, we all end up with plenty of stuff that we no longer use.
Luckily, we can get rid of that stuff while keeping it out of landfills. Many methods of getting rid of your old items can directly benefit others. From a box of old children’s toys to a stack of previously-read magazines, almost everything can have a second use. Here are five eco-friendly ways to dispose of common household goods.
1) Recycling: When it’s time to get rid of some items, recycling is often a wise decision. Most cities have at least one recycling center that accepts many common household things. Some may have special instructions regarding specific items. For example, cleaning products may have to be used entirely and rinsed out before recycling. And some hazardous materials, like old paints, require a special hazardous material recycling center.
Don’t forget about old electronics. With optimum times for spring cleaning approaching, be on the lookout for old and forgotten devices. Broken gaming or other electronic hardware can be recycled with similar materials, such as plastics. Old cords and cables can often be recycled at hardware and electronics stores. The same is valid with out-dated holiday decorations.
Even old appliances can be recycled. Most major appliance manufacturers offer reclamation and recycling programs. They might even pick up your old appliance for you.
2) Upcycle! Not every item has to leave your possession to find a second life. Upcycling refers to turning an old product into something new and useful. This can be a great way to get rid of old craft supplies, household goods, and other odds and ends. Plus, it’s the perfect way to involve kids in keeping the house clean and organized.
Consider turning old items into the new things that you’ve thought about buying. For example, using craft supplies and recyclable objects like aluminum cans and plastic bottles, you can make bird feeders with your children. Old pots and kettles can be painted and turned into decorative planters.
You can even upcycle old tires, should you have them. Keeping tires out of landfills is essential for the environment, but safely disposing of them comes with a tire disposal fee. Thus, consider using them to add flair to your yard. Bury them to create paths or garden barriers. How about the tried and true tire swing? You can even stack them up, fill them with dirt, and grow potatoes.
3) Donations: Of course, not all of your old items are destined to grow potatoes. Some of your things will still have a lot of life left—just not in your home. In these instances, turn to donations!
There are several products in good to excellent or unused condition that can be donated. Backpacks are a common and always-needed item. As long as it is in working order, local backpack drives or national charities like the Volunteers of America’s Operation Backpack will accept an old backpack.
For avid readers, getting rid of your books can be dreadful. Still, there are times when you just need to clear up the space. Donating your books and magazines will ensure they find a home that can appreciate them just as you did. The Little Free Library program allows you to donate books to local neighborhood “libraries” nationwide. This program ensures that books are present in areas where traditional libraries are absent.
4) Trade-In: For those with several old electronic products on their hands, consider trading them in for credit. Old video games and gaming devices can fetch a cash value or store credit. The cash amount is often not too spectacular, especially for out-dated items. Nevertheless, the store credit can be a nifty way to knock off the price of a new item.
Likewise, old smartphones and tablets can net you in-store credit at major phone providers. For instance, both Verizon and Apple provide in-store credit for old devices. For any other electronic product, call ahead and ask if it can be traded in.
5) Sell Your Stuff: For other items in excellent condition, you can always sell them for some extra cash. These days, there are several means to sell your stuff. Facebook Marketplace and apps like OfferUp allow you to sell your goods to the local community. With OfferUp, in particular, you can even sell them across the country.
Consider sites like eBay if you have any old collections. Anything from old toys to DVD collections might be worth money to collectors. It never hurts to look. Don’t forget about consignment shops, either. Though you won’t get a ton of money, this can still be a great way to get rid of old clothes or decorative jewelry.
If you can’t find a local consignment shop, then head online. There are numerous online second-hand markets for common household goods. Clothes and furniture are some of the most sought-after items. You can also find some new threads to replace your old ones at the same time.
Reducing our contribution to landfills is something that we all must try to do. Though the everyday person isn’t responsible for the current destruction of the environment, we can all do our part to help. Keeping items out of the landfill is a great first step. By looking for alternative disposal methods, like the five listed above, you can feel good about your contributions.
Always consider other ways to use an item. Search out those in need who could make excellent use of your old products. Or, trade items back in or sell them to make some money while staying eco-friendly. There are plenty of ways to keep your home fresh and tidy, while protecting the environment!
Rachel Perez, an Outreach Associate with North Star Inbound, wrote this piece. An honors graduate of New York University, she’s writes passionately about environmentalism, eco-friendly landscaping/home improvement ideas, and travel. When not writing, she enjoys spending time in the Florida sunshine.
* World Environment Day (WED) is celebrated annually on June 5 and is the United Nations’ principal vehicle for encouraging awareness and action for the protection of the environment. First held in 1973, it has been a platform for raising awareness on environmental issues as marine pollution, overpopulation, global warming, sustainable development and wildlife crime. To learn more, visit https://www.un.org/en/observances/environment-day.