We’ve all been there one way or another: you have a large collection of awkward items that you need to get rid of, but aren’t sure exactly how to get rid of them. It’s important to you that these items are disposed of in the right away, but that can be hard to do. With all of the different types of materials, sometimes it’s overwhelming. In a perfect world, all you would have to do is throw your unwanted material into a box and that box would magically disappear. Sadly, unlike a box of papers or a bottle of soda, most things aren’t so easy to get rid of. This guide is meant to show you the easiest ways to send off those especially cumbersome items, all the while doing your part to make your community a cleaner place. You’ll learn not only about the differences between each item, but why they may or may not need to be recycled in different ways. Remember to keep an open mind about proper item disposal, as some items listed, if not cared for properly, could cause serious harm to the environment, your family, and yourself due to the hazardous chemicals they contain.
Can You Recycle Furniture?
Furniture is quite large and heavy, but the real reason it’s difficult to dispose of properly is because there’s a lot of unknowns and confusion around this. The most simple solution is to review the rules and regulations listed on government websites, as they pertain to your state and community. Some states use different laws to regulate such activities. Always ensure that what you are doing is lawful in your state. There are other means of disposal aside from tossing your furniture out.
Consider donating your furniture to an organization. Donations are a wonderful idea. Throwing away a decent chair or couch would be a bit of a waste. No matter where you live, there are always donation centers that are not only happy to take your old sofa, but they’ll often do it free of charge. On top of that, donations are considered tax deductible, meaning you earn a little extra from your good deed. Local churches are often a place to take donations if you can’t find a nearby donation center. Another idea is to call local community services, like soup kitchens, homeless shelters and animal shelters, to see if they have any use for such an item. By donating you not only rid yourself of that unwanted furniture, but you are helping and giving back to your local community.
There are services you can call which will come retrieve the furniture as well. Sometimes you don’t have time to get rid of your furniture properly, especially if you’re in a situation where you can’t get help from family or friends to dispose of it. All too often this is the case, but thankfully there are a large number of services you can call to have the furniture removed for you. This requires a little bit of research, but there are plenty of services to choose from, including non-profit charities. If you don’t have that sort of service near you, sometimes it’s just as simple as calling your local waste management facility for them to come dispose of it. It may mean paying a fee, but you’ll know that the item is being properly and professionally disposed of.
Can I Throw Away Old Bathtubs?
You can’t treat bathtubs the same as your everyday items. Because bathtubs are often made of acrylic, which isn’t a very biodegradable material, you’ll find you can’t simply throw them away to sit for ages in a landfill. While you should be able to dispose of bathtubs in a similar fashion to furniture (always double check your local government websites for information) you might also find that you can repurpose them instead.
After polishing and decorating the tub you may find it makes for an excellent home garden. Online you’ll find countless tutorials on how to change your old tub into something fresh and new. It’s hard to find a downside with this when you realize the tub garden can look very pleasing, will have a much lower maintenance, and has far less trouble with invasive weeds.
Washing your beloved pet can be a hassle in and of itself, so why not consider dedicating a part of your backyard as a pet washing station? Rather than bring your mud covered, and likely very hyperactive, pooch inside for a bath you could simply wash them there in the yard. You can also use this for those days when your young child decides to make mud pies outside.
What to do with Old Cleaning Products?
Cleaning products can do amazing things, but they’re a problem when it’s time to dispose of them. If it isn’t safe to consume them, then it’s probably not safe to just dump them into the environment. After all, they’re literal bottles of chemicals that aren’t exactly found in the wild. Before you start pouring your bottles down the drain, here is a list of some common chemicals and how you can safely dispose of them.
Laundry products, such as bleach, detergents, pre-soaks and water softeners are all safe to put down the drain. While most fabric softeners should be fine you should always check the back of the bottle, as they may have chemicals in them that aren’t water soluble.
While most dish cleaning products are able to dissolve in water, there are some that aren’t actually eco-friendly, so you’ll need to read the back of the bottle and look for any special disposal instruction.
Household cleaners are probably the most difficult category on the list, as it’s full of exceptions and confusing conditions, and even checking the back of the bottle isn’t always a straightforward answer. You’ll likely have to look the item up online and read the information that is often posted on things like forums. In the meantime you can use a couple of basic rules of thumb to understand what you’ll likely be doing with the product. Liquids are often okay for the drain, solids should generally be thrown away and not recycled. The containers must then be well cleaned out before you put them in with the recycling.
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How do I Dispose of Old Appliances?
Appliances are surrounded by rules and regulations, but it can be broken down to one of two categories.
Refrigerators have to be recycled, you cannot simply throw them away. The Clean Air Act actually has something to say about the chlorofluorocarbons (also known as CFC) which are used in refrigerators. You’ll prevent CFC from invading the atmosphere any more than it already has by recycling your refrigerator. Most large appliances that use chemicals, like freezers, heat pumps, and AC units, will require that you call your local waste management facility to have a professional come out and safely remove the products.
You’ll be using slightly different methods when you want to dispose of smaller appliances, like microwaves or toasters. They may not have CFCs in them, however they are electronics, so you still have to take care when disposing of them. Many states had e-waste programs that you can reach out to where they will either repair and reuse the product, or properly dispose of it. Some of these places will do this for free, so it’s a good idea to look into what’s offered.
What do I do with My Old Mattress?
Mattresses are actually more of a problem to deal with than furniture is. Many laws exist with regards to reselling and repurposing them because of the high risk for spreading diseases and illnesses. Selling mattresses is a clean no from the CDC. Yet, every year around 40 million mattresses fill our landfills, and each mattress takes up an average of 40 cubic feet. They’re large, clunky, and can even damage landfill equipment, to in the long term it may be more expensive to throw them away. So how do we solve this problem?
Within recent years, there have been several organizations formed that specialize in disassembling mattresses, extracting all materials to make new beds and incinerating the materials that they can’t. This is much cheaper and more space efficient than simply dumping them. The downside to this is that there aren’t many organizations nationwide that do this, so if you can’t locate one reasonably near you, call your local waste management facility and discuss further options that abide by the laws set by your state or community.
What to do with Old Rugs?
You can easily recycle rugs and carpets. Most massed produced carpets are made with biodegradable materials for quick break down, and most states allow them to be a part of curbside pick up. One of the best parts about recycling carpets is that they are able to be broken down by a plastic resin which is able to be used for other mass productions, or the fibers in them can be used to make new carpets and rugs. Most even accept carpet padding, and don’t require you to separate them upon disposal.
It’s important that you don’t attempt to donate your rug or carpet. Your heart may be in the right place, but just like mattresses the concern is more health related, and donating an object that has been used, worn, and over the years has been collecting dust and dirt can increase the chances of infectious diseases spreading. You still care for your community and your environment when you recycle them, so don’t worry about it.
Recycling may not always be the easiest thing to do, especially in our modern society, but it’s important all the same. Not just from a safety perspective, but fiscally as well. Most of the items above can be written off as a tax deduct when donated, and repurposing others can save you both money and item waste. Taking the time to dispose of these items properly can be the difference between maintaining a community and having said community grow and thrive. You could just throw some of this away, but the consequences could be astronomical. We’re running out of space to put our trash as every passing year more and more landfills reach their capacity. By recycling we open the door to building a better future, one where our communities are safer, healthier, and far more prosperous, so long as everyone does their part.