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Recycling and Reusing Unwanted Items

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Before you begin packing up for your move, you should figure out what you don't want or need to bring with you. Rather than just trashing everything you won't be taking with you, you can recycle , or even reuse, these items.


With each passing year, more and more electronics arrive on the scene. There are mp3 players, cell phones, computers, and countless other gadgets and gizmos. As new electronics are released, the older versions get shoved in a drawer or tossed aside somewhere else. Your move gives you an opportunity to go through them.

  • Computers, computer parts, and TVs - Many electronics, like computers and TVs, contain toxic chemicals like mercury, lead, and cadmium. You can't simply throw these away, so you'll need to recycle anything you won't use again. Companies like GreenDisk take in your electronics for recycling. If you want to get rid of computers that still function, consider donating them to an organization like Computers with Causes.
  • Cell phones - Cell phones are very simple to recycle. Most office supply and electronics stores accept phones for donation. Many of these programs provide phones for emergency use to those who can't afford a phone plan. You could also consider saving older cell phones to give to your kids when you think they're old enough to have one.
  • Batteries - Like computers, batteries can contain toxic chemicals and shouldn't be thrown out with your household trash. Instead you should bring them to a battery-recycling drop-off point. All Batteries Plus stores accept batteries for recycling.
  • Smoke detectors - Smoke detectors contain a radioactive material called Americium 241. If your smoke detector ceases to work, you should return it to the manufacturer. They will be able to recycle it or dispose of it properly.

Other household goods

  • Paper goods - Paper goods, like old magazines and newspapers, can easily be reused as packing material or simply recycled along with your other household recyclables.
  • Carpets - Old carpets can actually be restored for reuse. If you want to get rid of a carpet, however, you can donate it if it's in good condition. For the disposal of synthetic carpeting, you'll have to contact a carpet installer or renovation company. Natural-fiber carpeting can be composted.
  • Clothing - Consider giving clothing to friends or family who could use it. There are also many charities and thrift stores that accept donations. Some thrift stores may even pay you a small sum for your old clothing.

Things you can't recycle

  • Wax paper or laminated papers
  • Chinaware and pottery
  • Styrofoam™
  • Mirrors and plate glass
  • High-grade plastics
  • Medicine
  • Paint
  • Chemicals and cleaners like pesticides and fertilizer
There are still many other things in your home that you may be able to recycle or reuse. Think about recycling before you throw anything away. If you're not sure if an item can be recycled, research it online and find out. There are charities available that accept all kinds of donations, so there's a good chance that'll you'll be able to donate many of your unwanted goods.

  Posted by Sean McClain on August 27, 2009

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