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A Green Move: Where to Dispose of Your Old Stuff When You Move

Big smiles after a green move

Big smiles after a green move

By Joann Pan

Let’s face it; moving your belongings from one place to another is harder than simply hiring a moving company to do it all for you. First — on the long list of things to do before moving — is organizing and packing up your old space. Unfortunately, most people are pack rats by nature; especially, when we have had a place to call our own for an extended period of time. This stuff (over time) grows and grows until we are left with a whole lot of junk to sort out come moving day.

Take a look at your home and you will be astounded by how many mugs, books and electronics that you have accumulated, but have barely touched in recent months years. Don’t we all wish someone would condense our belongings and pack up the reusable moving crates for us? But, in the end, we know what to keep and what to throw away, give away or recycle to make our moving load lighter – not to mention cut costs on our moving expenses.

Since moving is what we are concerned with 24/7, Relocation.com has compiled a list to help you save space on your journey to your new home while treading lightly on the Earth. And this couldn’t come sooner — most people in the 20th century are guilty of tossing away old computers, CD players and TVs for the latest and greatest new electronic wonder, never thinking of where their old belongings will end up. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection, the amount of computers in the U.S — ranging from 30 to 40 million — will end up in the trash in a few years. On top of all of that waste, this years switchover from analog televisions to digital ones meant that 25 million television sets found a new home in landfills. Many of these electronics contain lead, mercury, arsenic, cadmium, beryllium and other chemicals—which are as toxic as they sound—were not disposed of properly. They ended up in national landfills as well as those overseas as a result of illegal smuggling of e-waste to disassembly centers abroad. There, scavengers pick out plastic, valuable metal pieces and microchips that they can sell at a profit, leaving the scraps to be washed off to sea.

Now that you know where your old items go, it’s easy to see why disposing of them properly is not only easy but essential for the preservation of the earth. Here’s how to do your part on moving day — this will not only save you money and clear up some space, but will result in less environmental consequences. Now that’s moving in the right direction.

1.    From old fire extinguishers, fungicides, household cleaners and hazardous materials such as compact fluorescent light bulbs to mercury thermostats, the eco-conscious resource, Earth 911.com has all the bases covered. Just enter what you are looking to throw away and by zip code the website will tell you how far, where, when and what various drop-off sites accept.

2.    Don’t need your old mattress anymore? Usually local home-furnishing stores and mattress outlets will take your discarded bed parts because cotton, cloth, springs and foam can all be recycled and given new life. The wooden frame can even be turned into wood chips. Before lugging your cumbersome mattress to any old store, call or check MattressDonation.com to find the most convenient place to drop your old bed.

3.    Do you have piles and piles of clothes that are discolored, too small or those that you are simply not interested in (clothes with tags are a good indication of this)? Well, there are plenty of places that will take your bags of shirts and pants, which in the long-run will prevent them from filling up landfills. According to organicgardens.com, you can use your cotton, wool and old leather gloves as compost. But, that’s only a last minute resort when there is a plethora of Good Will facilities, Salvation Army locales and organizations like Housing Works NY that will take your old clothes and make money for those who need help such as for AIDS research. Or, as another option, if you have friends your size have a swap party where you  exchange shirts you are tired of for new fashions—as they say, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Recycle, reuse and renew the Earth in style.

4.    For all the miscellaneous junk—from old picture frames, CDs, bulky furniture to gifts you’ve never opened—there are online resources such as Craigslist, Ebay or Amazon where people are looking for deals daily. On the “Free” neighborhood sections we have seen everything from chairs, tables, bed frames, pool tables, camera equipment, grills to pet cats! Most people are moving or making room for new stuff, so you can decidedly let willing people take your junk away for free. On Ebay or Amazon, you can “sell” your stuff for a few cents or dollars and someone will gladly pay shipping to take your old junk away from you. These options make for a win-win situation for you and the environment.

If you need additional help, there are resources such as the official EPA website, theDailyGreen.com and company websites of Apple, Dell, HP, Gateway and Best Buy— all of which tell you what to do with products after you’re done with them.

More Green Resources for your Move:
More Green Home Ideas [Relocation.com]
High-Tech Trash [National Geographic]

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