I gave you a hard time, last time, didn’t I? I’m sorry about that. I’ll make things a little easier for you.
So you’ve got some stuff you don’t want anymore. Hold your horses. Let’s do something about this.
Begin with basics. Your very first step would be to start recycling if you don’t. Stop throwing away your stupid soda bottles and soup cans and cardboard boxes. Figure out what recycling programs exist in your area and how you can use them. Use the interwebs. Earth911 is pretty rad. If you’re lucky enough to live in an area with all-in-one curbside recycling, take advantage of it! Just be sure to wash everything thoroughly. Super important. The dudes picking it up aren’t going to sort it for you, and if they see foodbits, the whole contents of the bin gets put in the trash.
Also maybe try composting, if you’ve got the space and the means. I don’t. I also unfortunately waste a lot of food.
- How to Compost Food Scraps (via Home Composting Made Easy)
- Composting at Home (via eartheasy)
- Bokashi Composting System (product, via TreeHugger)
- Apartment Composting (via planet green)
Ok cool. You got that all situated. But you’ve got some questionable stuff you’re not sure how to dispose of, maybe? Cosmetics? Batteries? No, do not throw that crap away. Seriously. You have options.
Call2Recycle: Find out where you can locally recycle cell phones and rechargeable batteries. Just plug in your zipcode and you’re good to go.
Earth911: You can find tons of information on recycling hazardous materials. Read up!
Now then, what’s left? Big stuff? Books? Computer bits? Before you decide you want to dump everything off at Goodwill, for example, read the fine print. “Good condition” means “you would buy this” condition. There are some things that are not clearly mentioned on that page, however.
Library books and most text books will be thrown away. Don’t donate those. Same goes for any books that are dirty or ripped or manky in any way.
Goodwill stores are seriously picky about toys. And really, they should be. You would be better off not donating plushes or small things unless they’re new or like-new. Again, if you wouldn’t buy it or let your own child play with it, no one else is likely to. If you’ve got questionable condition vintage toys, try tossing them up on eBay for a cheap-o price. There are collectors of everything. Trust me on this one. I used to help moderate a My Little Pony message board.
Clothing can, I do loathe to say it, be in any condition. It all gets sorted. The gross stuff gets turned into rags or sold by the pound elsewhere. However, I really think you’d be better off turning your own gross clothes into your own rags for cleaning around the house and such.
If you’re uncertain about something, call the place you’re planning on donating to! You can find your local Goodwill, and its phone number/address/everything on the Goodwill website. And here’s the Salvation Army.
You’ve also got some other options (including the obvious ones of garage sale and eBay):
- Donate gently used clothing to another thrift or consignment shop. There’s also Plato’s Closet, for those of you who are trendy and fashion-forward.
- Browse craigslist (or your newspaper want-ads) to see if anyone locally is looking for, I don’t know, a cheap (or free?) television or a rabbit cage.
- Have a clothing swap with your pals. Or a book swap. Ugly framed print swap? You get the idea.
- Donate old blankets to your local animal shelter. Comforters and throw blankets are good for this. Critters get their little feet stuck in afghans (Always call first to make sure this is okay!).
- Perhaps a local organization is having a tag sale or flea market or raffle sometime in the near future? Ring them up, see what they could use.
- If you’re crafty, you may be able to re-purpose some of your old things into something else. I refuse to use the word “up-cycle” (except for right there) because it makes me want to vomit. Check ReadyMade or, duh, wikiHow.
I understand that you could have probably googled all that nonsense, but maybe I helped. I’m trying to be realistic. We’re all really busy. Time is precious. Basically, I think the goal here is to save and reuse as much as you can without turning into a freaky hoarder, or someone your friends and family don’t want to be around. You don’t necessarily need to be drinking tea out of jam jars or walking around shoeless to help the planet (remember when I used to live in Burlington, you guys?).
Also, it helps just to be nice to the folks (and critters and plantlife) you share the planet with. You can multi-R all you want, but it’s not going to mean anything unless you actually give even just a fraction of a fuck.
I know, right?