I was straightening up the house (AGAIN!) today and found myself doing what I always do – making piles of the stuff that I don’t know what to do with.  In fact, I have several piles like this all around the house – in different rooms, piled in the hallway and on the stairs.

I decided it was time to make the time to take a closer look at the piles.  Upon closer inspection, I realized that they were all, in part, made up of items that needed to be gotten rid of but were in a sort of limbo.  By limbo I mean that they were items that I wanted to get rid of but that I didn’t want to just put in the trash. They were waiting for me to do some research into whether or not they could be recycled somehow. Looking around, right now in fact, I see a used gift card, part of a plastic CD case, an LED bulb and a warped (from being put in the bottom rack in the dishwasher – argh!!) plastic travel coffee mug.  My gut tells me that there is some way to recycle all of these but my gut also tells me that it’s probably not through my curbside pick up. So, how do I recycle all this stuff? How can I get rid of it all in an environmentally friendly way?

Separate

So I think as a first step I’m going to set up a basket in the corner of my my garage labeled something along the lines of, “How the heck do I get this out of the house in an environmentally friendly way?”.  🙂 Next I’m going to have to man up and go through the many piles and actually put away – or better yet get my kids to do it – the items we need and want to keep.
After that we should be left with one big pile of stuff that I refuse to put in the trash until I conduct research about my options for how to dispose of it in an environmentally friendly way.  I know it would be so easy to just dump it all into the trash and be done with it…but I just can’t! Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hoard things and I really don’t want to keep them.  I’m more than happy to purge on a regular basis.  I’m just not okay putting stuff into the trash.

Sort

Once I have my pile of potential recyclables I think a next step will be to sort everything into piles of like items.  So, I can probably lump together the the plastic CD case with the warped plastic travel coffee mug but the LED bulb will have to be sorted out.  I know my unusable clothing (including single socks!) will be another pile as well as the dead gift cards.  Also in their own pile are two used three-binders, two empty helium tanks, a box full of empty sterno cans and numerous strings of non-working Christmas lights.  Yikes I have a lot of stuff!!

Options

See, part of the problem is that I know how to get rid of some of the items like the sterno cans and the helium tanks – at our county transfer station – but others I’m not sure about but hopeful that I can find a way to get rid of them that isn’t just dumping them in the trash.  So, they sit waiting for me to figure it out.

One source for finding out how to recycling things that can’t go into your curbside collection is your local division of solid waste. Ours has a searchable database where you can enter the name of your item and it will let you know how to dispose of it.  I also found a contact name and email address for an employee there who is more than willing to answer more specific questions.  For example, around Halloween I asked her if the foil from chocolate candy could be recycled with our co-mingled plastic, glass and aluminum. Guess what – it can!

Another excellent source is the Earth911 recycle search.  It allows you to enter in the item you’d like to recycle and it provides you with locations near you where they can be dropped off.  It also provides you with info on where you can ship items to be recycled.  I just spent a few minutes entering the random things lying around that I could see and got a result for every single one!!

I am good to go!!  Now I’m off to grab a basket to collect all of my in limbo, waiting-to-be-recycled items then sit down to find out once and for all how I can get them out of my house and off the stairs, counter tops and floors in an environmentally friendly way!

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