As you move through the summer, perhaps you are inspired to address and clean out a few piles, drawers or closets that have eluded you. There are so many terrific ways to repurpose items that are no longer of use in your home, passing items on to those who could breathe new life into them and keep material out of our waste stream.
Linking residents with donation and recycling resources that help reduce the amount of trash being sent to landfills is an ongoing process. Every single piece of trash that is kept out of our municipal waste stream saves taxpayers. There are also misconceptions about what can and cannot be donated, so finding the “right” spot can sometimes be confusing.
However, with just a little research and patience, items can go on to another life and perhaps assist or benefit others in ways never anticipated. Here are some local options for donation, reuse and recycling.
Reduce clear plastic waste: Market Basket, Target, Hannaford and Kohl’s have recycling bins in the store for excess plastic bags. The bags go to Trex to be used in composite decking. But did you know that the bins also take dry cleaning bags, clear bread bags, ice bags, bubble wrap, pellet bags, and overwrap from cases of water, and the clear wrapping from your toilet paper and paper towel purchases?
Collect these clean, clear plastics and take to the store on your next trip and help reduce your own household trash.
Reduce household plastics: Think about using shampoo and conditioner bars instead of bottles. A new industry is springing up in the soap-making market with artisan crafted bar shampoos. Lush is a mall brand that may be familiar, but others are available online or at farmers markets. A terrific way to get rid of millions of shampoo bottles which are consumed each year.
Slow down laundry soap use: Did you know that your washer only needs two tablespoons of laundry soap to do its job? Imagine how much further you can stretch your detergent by cutting way back on the amount poured in. According to appliance repair professionals, too much detergent clogs up washers and piles up gunk in the machine. Reducing detergent is also better for our water downstream.
Pink bag program: Tewksbury’s free pink bags are where to donate soiled, ripped or torn linens. Go through your sock drawer and fill up a bag with holey socks. As you clear out children’s drawers getting ready for back to school, any stained or worn out clothing can go in the bag. The textiles are recycled into industrial rags. The bags go out on your recycling day, placed next to your recycling toter. Another great way to reduce the tonnage going to landfills.
Goodwill Industries: There are several items that can be donated to Goodwill Industries that perhaps you didn’t know about. For example, if you have a single shoe that is good, Goodwill will take it and pair it with another lost cousin to create a new pair for someone in need. They also take old wires from VCRs or other electronics and strip out the copper. What a great solution! Goodwill takes old eyeglasses and gives them to those in need along with Halloween costumes and even old Christmas lights! The light cords are also stripped for copper as well.
However, with so many options to donate, there are still items that need to go in the trash. Our trash is turned into energy, so take heart in knowing that your items are not going to a landfill.
Items to Throw Away: Please throw expired food away — do not donate it to the food pantry. It creates a burden for the pantry volunteers to dispose of these items.
Please throw away old books. The library does not want books from your basement, training manuals from your old company, and books with cobwebs, yellowed pages or in crummy condition. It becomes a disposal burden. Just toss them.
Dirty, non-working small items. Throw them away. The old popcorn popper coated in butter is of no use to anyone. When donating, think if you’d use the item itself in that condition. Items can be used but should be usable and in respectable condition.
Get over the guilt that “someone” can use the item. They won’t. Ditch it.