More and more these days, we're conscious of not wanting to send usable items to the landfill, and of trying to recycle as much as possible. This is definitely a big step in the right direction, though it can get tricky if you've got stuff cluttering up your space that you're holding onto only because you're not sure where or how to responsibly part with it.
The good news is that there are now charities and companies that will take almost anything you might want to donate or recycle, from clothes to computers to construction materials. Here are some of my favorite resources for clearing out your unwanted stuff without sending it to the dump.
Think Outside the Bin
The ladies behind Think Outside the Bin, a professional organizer and an "eco-educator", have created a fabulous and wide-ranging directory of recycling and donation resources. Ever wondered where to donate Bibles? Used animal cages? Old Halloween costumes? They've got ideas for you! Keep an eye on this site: the owners are committed to posting something new every day in 2011, which will make for an even more impressive directory by the end of the year. Take a look at Think Outside the Bin.
Officiency's Recycling and Donation Resources
Officiency, a professional organizing company started by K.J. McCorry, has an amazingly comprehensive list of options for donating or recycling everything from appliances to luggage to Tyvek envelopes (like those used by FedEx). K.J.'s list also includes links to recycling resources in Colorado (where she's based) and throughout the U.S. Check out the list here.
How to Recycle or Reuse Anything from Real Simple
Real Simple's editors have collected information from past issues of the magazine into an online directory of all sorts of donation, recycling, and reuse tips, including guidelines on what can be recycled, how to decide whether something can safely and responsibly be donated, and where to find new homes for the stuff you're ready to part with. As a bonus, there are also ideas on ways to reuse stuff that may not be recyclable or donatable, such as Ziploc bags. Visit Real Simple's recycling and reuse directory here.
If you like the idea of getting your unneeded things directly into the hands of people who'll use them, you'll love Freecycle, a world-wide network of people dedicated to passing along cast-offs to others in their community. Here's how it works: visit the Freecycle site to find a group near you (there are more than 4,900). Once you join (it's free!), you'll be able to post e-mail announcements to your group listing the things you're ready to part with. You'll get replies from interested parties and can then make arrangements for pick-ups. Freecycle is consistently praised for being a great way of finding new homes for hard-to-donate stuff like mattresses and toys. Visit the website and find a group near you.
The Organized Life's Recycling & Reuse Resources
Finally, of course I'm a fan of the recycling and reuse resources I've collected on The Organized Life's Links & Resources page! While several of these resources are specific to the San Francisco Bay Area (including county-by-county guides), many are country-wide. I'm always looking to expand this directory, so if you have a favorite donation or recycling resource, e-mail me and let me know, or share it with others in the BellaOnline Organization Forum.