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Because You Asked

What To Do With Spring Cleaning Recyclables?

By Recyclebank |

Find out how to deal with all those questionable recyclables that Spring-cleaning has unearthed.


Dear Recyclebank: How and where can I dispose of household junk like old paints, televisions, computer monitors and computers. These items are piling up on us, and we would like to get rid of them. –Andy C.

Dear Andy: With Earth Day just around the corner, “tis the season” to finally empty out those closets we’ve had our eye on cleaning for months — you know, the one that has all those old golf clubs, the tube TV from 1990, and an assortment of other space-hogging items that can’t simply be put out in the recycle bin. The good news is that most “big ticket” items — things like televisions, used paint, computer monitors and other obsolete electronics — actually do belong somewhere, just not in your garage, anymore. So let’s spend a little time talking about what to do with them now.

Items such as unused recreation equipment, old toys, functional electronics, and other usable goods that you don’t want any longer, but are otherwise still working, should be donated; not thrown out or recycled. Start by contacting your local thrift store to see if what you have will make acceptable donations. There are many nationwide organizations, such as Goodwill, AMVETs, and the Lupus Foundation of America, that are happy not only to receive your unwanted goods, but also to schedule an at-home pick up for your convenience. There are also many local charities happy to accept donations of this sort. Contact your local church or food pantry to ask for references; chances are they’ll be able to point you to an interested organization.

Obsolete electronics are their own category of waste. Unless you have all components of a unit, the best way to appropriately get rid of your old electronics, or “e-waste” as it is known, is to schedule an e-waste pick up with your city or waste hauler, or to drop your electronics off at collection sites such as those at Best Buy.

Many cities around the country are implementing strict e-waste disposal laws. In 2012, Philadelphia, PA for example, banned the disposal of common household electronics in landfills. If you have name-brand merchandise you want to get rid of, reach out to the company to find out if they are willing to collect your old products — some will offer discounts on newer products.

The final category of waste you’ll likely find during your Spring cleaning is household hazardous waste (HHW). This category includes paints, automotive oils, cleaning agents, and many other surprising things such as prescription medication and art supplies that have ignitable, toxic, reactive or corrosive ingredients, which require special treatment for disposal. Contact your municipality or waste hauler to find out about drop off locations and special collection days for these HHW items. If your municipality doesn’t make special accommodations for HHW, don’t fret; often many local companies are willing to accept your HHW for you. Auto mechanics are generally happy to dispose of old car batteries and antifreeze, while paint and hardware stores may accept paint leftovers.



Has your Spring cleaning unearthed a tricky piece of waste? Share how you managed to have it recycled, or properly disposed of, in the comments below.

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  • tommy b. 2 years ago
  • June S. 3 years ago
    I am fortunate that the county where I live has a hazardous waste collection site where things can be taken M-F during business hours. They also send what they call the HazWagon to 4 different locations around the county 1 day a week (each site has a different day) where people can take hazardous items AND compostable materials. It's all free too. I have very much appreciated this service - one of the HazWagon sites is just a few miles from my house and I can combine a trip there with my favorite produce stand and 2 grocery stores where I like to shop, not to mention there's also a recycle station there too. And I also pass a pharmacy on my way back home, so I can combine lots of errands all within a 3-4 mile trip from my house. The HazWagon near me is on Mondays and I brought 6 containers of compostable material (vegetable peels, corn cobs, egg shells, coffee grounds, etc.) there yesterday. And one of the grocery stores is Publix and I can take any plastic bags I have and drop them there - and BONUS! They also take foam egg cartons and meat trays! Most of the grocery stores take the plastic bags, but Publix is the only one in our area that takes the foam egg cartons and meat trays. Since I recycle and compost so much, my trash can is often nearly empty each week. And that's a GOOD thing!
  • Beverly F. 3 years ago
    Some vocational centers will accept old computers as a teaching tool for their students.
  • Barbara W. 3 years ago
    here, Goodwill sells their stuff , whereas the Salvation Army GIVES their stuff to the poor.
  • Kate L. 3 years ago
    Donate to Recycling program that employs underemployed
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