When moving, lighten your load to the dumpster

When I moved out of my house a couple of weeks ago, I was expecting the two or three bags of trash that my roommates and I collected after the first day. But the 12 bags that were sitting outside of the house after the second day of moving was over the top. What could be in there? I took the bags and sorted through it all myself and was appalled at what I found: towels, old batteries, half-used cleaning supplies and an old toaster were just a few of the items. After a few hours of sorting, I managed to get our trash down to three bags, but the experience made me wonder what programs exist to recycle and reuse the items that would otherwise end up in the landfill. Here’s what I came up with:

Electronics: Best Buy, Office Depot, and Staples all have recycling programs where you can drop off old electronics like monitors, printers, and televisions. Sony partners with Waste Management to offer free recycling of all of the company’s products.

Appliances: Many appliances can be recycled as scrap metal or steel. Locate the recycling center nearest you that accepts these items with Earth 911’s search database. Make sure you read local guidelines for how to recycle certain appliances. For example, many old refrigerators, freezers and air conditioners contain chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) or hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), which are harmful to the Earth’s ozone layer, and need to be properly recovered.

Cell phones and rechargeable batteries: Most cell phone companies and networks will recycle old cell phones for free. Use call2recycle’s searchable database to find all of the cell phone and rechargeable battery collection sites near you.

Furniture and Household items: There are many places to donate old furniture but if hauling it is a problem, several charities provide pickup service for furniture and other items including Military Order of the Purple Heart, Salvation Army and Big Brothers, Big Sisters.

Old tennis shoes: Aside from local charities and shoe recycling programs, check out the Nike Reuse-A-Shoe program. The company recycles all brands of athletic shoes to help create soccer and football fields, tracks, basketball courts and tennis courts around the world.

Plastics: The higher numbered plastics (#5 and #6) that most curbside pick up services won’t collect can be recycled at different recycling locations and office supply stores (for packing material). Type in ‘plastics’ to Earth911’s search database to find sites that will take hard-to-recycle plastics. There are also recycling programs available for specific products like a yogurt-cup-to-toothbrush program.

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