Blog: Simplify Your Life
What To Do With Stuff You Don't Need Anymore
When you start organizing, the first step is often cleaning out -- but this process doesn't have to create bags of trash for the landfill, if you take the time to make sure than anything usable goes to a better home.
Donating Household Items
Nearly anything you clean out of your home can be donated to a local thrift store. It's okay if items are worn (people know they are used when they buy them), but make sure they are clean and functional -- don't just dump broken junk into the donate bag, because that creates more work for the thrift store employees. The nice thing about donating your discards is that someone else will get some use out of them -- as they say, one man's trash is another's treasure. You can clean out with a clear conscience, knowing that your stuff isn't clogging up a landfill, but moving on to a new owner who will love and cherish it. And, of course, if you choose a non-profit or church organization, the resale of your donations will benefit their cause.
Donating Office Items
Some thrift stores simply can't take office furniture, business electronics, and computer equipment -- but there is no reason for these items to end up littering the landscape as trash. Why not go straight to the source? There are many worthwhile non-profit agencies in your town that are running on a shoestring budget and have a hard time affording the basics -- these organizations can always use donations of business supplies. Whether you're cleaning out a desk or a box of file folders, a copy machine or a high-end printer -- you can easily find a group that would appreciate the help and put your discards to good use. If you're not sure where to start, contact your local United Way and they can point you in the right direction.
Donating Building Supplies
Cleaning out as you renovate has always been a challenge -- thrift stores have zero interest in items like cabinets, cans of paint, tile, grout, windows, doors, sinks, fixtures, and lumber. But now, there's a great way to keep these items from ending up in a landfill. Habitat For Humanity's Restores accept donations of building supplies -- both new and used. They then resell these items through their "building thrift stores" which are open to the public (FYI: a great way to find inexpensive items for your next fix-it project). Everyone benefits -- you receive a tax deduction and a greener way to dispose of home repair and construction materials, and someone else gets a great bargain on discounted building supplies.
Commonly Accepted Recyclables
You can actually recycle more household items than you might think -- most recycling centers will take some or all of the following (visit Recycle.net or GRN.com to find a drop-off near you):
- clear and frosted plastic bottles
- glass bottles, jars, and containers without the lids
- aluminum (cans and foil)
- steel cans (the kind that canned vegetables come in)
- plastic and paper grocery bags
- white copy paper and office paper
- junk mail and colored paper
- newspaper and newsprint
- telephone books
- corrugated cardboard (not slick)
You can also recycle a number of other items -- it just takes a bit more effort to find a drop-off location:
- aseptic packaging (milk cartons, drink boxes, etc.) -- call Coca Cola at 800-888-6488
- refrigerators, heat pumps, and air conditioners -- must be taken away by a certified hauler
- packing "peanuts" -- the Plastic Loose Fill Council offers a list of drop-off sites
- polystyrene packaging -- contact the Alliance Of Foam Packaging Recyclers
- carpet and carpet padding -- Dupont Antron has a program for recycling carpet
- eyeglasses -- the Lions Club accepts donations to fit with new lenses for the needy
- holiday cards -- send to St. Jude's Ranch to be made into new cards
- GreenDisk has a program to recycle media (digital or magnetic) and computer components
- tires and rubber, scrap metal, and automotive parts -- contact your local mechanic
- ink and toner cartridges -- choose from a number of recycling programs
- cell phones, cordless items, and rechargeable batteries -- contact Call2Recycle
Some items are considered toxic and will poison a landfill if thrown into the trash. These must be handled with care, and can't be recycled along with your glass and paper -- but you can take them to a hazardous materials recycler for correct disposal. Take motor oil, antifreeze and other automotive fluids to your local quick lube shop. You can call your local garbage company for advice in dealing with fluorescent light bulbs, thermometers, household cleaners, poisons, paints, and solvents. Lead acid batteries may be taken to an automotive shop -- or contact The Battery Council for a referral. And if you have a smoke detector (which contains radioactive material) to discard, call First Alert at 800-323-9005.
While the goal is to recycle as much as you can, some things just can't be re-purposed and must be tossed:
- other grades of plastic (varies by local area)
- waxed, food contaminated, and oil-soaked paper
- stickers and plastic laminated paper such as fast food wrappers
- pet food bags
- carbon or thermal fax paper
- sanitary products or tissues
- plate glass and mirrors
- crockery, china, or pottery
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posted on: 11/8/2011 11:30:00 AM by Ramona Creel
category: General Organizing Tips
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Simplify Your Life
by Ramona Creel
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I have been a Professional Organizer for more than 10 years, I am a NAPO Golden Circle member, and I was the original founder of OnlineOrganizing. I have worked one-on-one with scores of clients and have trained dozens of newbie organizers as they got started in the industry. I provide both hands-on and virtual coaching to help clients improve their organizing skills and simplify their lives. I invite you to visit my website at http://www.RamonaCreel.com, and I challenge you to find one new idea that you can put into practice in your life, to help you become better organized, starting TODAY! I am passionate about coaching folks toward a more balanced, productive, and enjoyable life -- and I firmly believe that if I can do it, so can you!
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