So you’ve finally decided to clear out the junk and clean up your life — or at least your house. Whether it’s an old refrigerator or prescription medicine, there are probably items cluttering your space just because you don’t know how to get rid of them properly. Cleaning up your home and yard can be easy, especially if you have neighborhood programs that help you dispose of larger items you can’t throw away. To get your living space back in order, we’ve put together this list which outlines how to dispose of or recycle these 10 common household items you just don’t know what to do with. Scroll on for 10 ways to freshen up your digs.
1. Medicine: We used to be encouraged to flush unwanted pills down the toilet, but now we know that’s not so great for the environment, and tossing unneeded or expired prescriptions in the garbage can be dangerous. Try to de-clutter your medicine cabinet regularly, and drop prescriptions off at a pharmaceutical take-back event, which are typically hosted by local law enforcement agencies or hospitals.
2. Appliances: From toasters to washing machines, appliances that are in good working condition can be donated to a church or a childcare center, and could qualify for a tax write-off. If the appliance doesn’t work, consider recycling it through a certified e-waste recycler, or see if the EPA’s Energy Star Program offers a rebate for recycling the item.
3. Books and Magazines: Instead of tossing unwanted books and magazines into the recycling bin (or worse — the trash pile), consider donating them to your local library. Another option is to donate them to a private organization that will distribute them locally, nationally or internationally. If you have gently used children’s books, contact the schools in your area and ask if they accept donations.
4. Compact Florescent Lamp (CFL) bulbs: The beauty of CFL bulbs is that they last for *years* — but it’s worth knowing that they contain a small amount of mercury, which means they’re considered hazardous waste. When they do burn out, they can’t be thrown in your curbside trash or recycling bins, but there’s a good chance they can be disposed of at your local hazardous waste facility or through your recycling service provider. Alternatively, many Lowe’s stores accept CFLs for recycling.
5. Power Cords: Do you have a drawer full of power cords and chargers you haven’t needed in years? Use online sites to locate a nearby recycling center or e-waste collector that accepts these items instead of throwing them out. If they’re still in working order, you can also try to sell them on sites like Craigslist or eBay.
6. Televisions: When it’s time to upgrade your TV, consider donating your old one to a homeless shelter or another facility that helps those in need. Another option is to take it to a large electronics store to have it recycled. Many communities also have donation days where you can drop off old, used televisions and they will reuse them or recycle the pieces safely.
7. Hazardous Household Waste (HHW): Chemicals like paint, pesticides and cleaners contain potentially hazardous ingredients, so you shouldn’t pour them down the drain, in the gutter or put them in a trashcan. Instead, contact your local government and ask if there’s a nearby HHW collection site or if the city designates a day when citizens can drop off HHW at a specified location.
8. Paper Products: To cut down on the paperwork that clutters your home and minimize the risk of identity theft, buy a quality shredder and use it regularly. Take shredded paper to a secure drop off location or dispose of it at a community shredding event. You can also recycle your shredded paper by adding it to your compost pile.
9. Old Towels: If your linen closet is packed with towels you no longer need, consider taking them to the local animal shelter, where they can be used to dry animals off after a bath or for bedding. You can also take nice towels to a local homeless shelter or charity organization.
10. Computer Ink and Toner Cartridges: Major business supply stores like Staples will recycle your ink and toner cartridges for you, and then provide a discount off the purchase of new ink and toner. Another way to recycle ink and toner cartridges is to mail them to a company that will refill them and sell them back to you at a reduced cost.
11. Old Clothes: If you just treated yourself to a shopping spree to update your wardrobe, you’ll need to make room for these items in your closet. Everyone knows you can donate these items to organizations like the Salvation Army, but there are other charities out there that would be happy to receive your donation.
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(Photos via Getty)