Yeah, you already know how to recycle your plastic bottles and newspapers, but most of the other stuff you have stuck in the back of the junk drawer or collecting dust in the closet can be reused, too. Here’s how.
Got a stash of books you’ll never crack open again? There are several websites waiting to help you renew your collection. Sign up at swaptree.com, titletrader.com, zunafish.com or paperbackswap.com and you can swap your old stuff for someone else’s old stuff.
Ready to upgrade your cell phone? Don’t toss it in the garbage; it contains toxic metals (think mercury, cadmium, lead and arsenic) that can leak into the soil. Instead, try one of these programs.
• Collectivegood.com heeds EPA guidelines to safely recycle your phone if it can’t be refurbished, and works with charities to donate them to folks who need them more than you. Don’t forget to claim the donation come tax time.
• Ripmobile.com refurbishes old phones and sends them to burgeoning communities around the globe. In exchange, they send you gift certificates for stores, including Circuit City, Starbucks and PayPal.
• Several carriers collect old handsets at retail locations. Just specify that you want it to benefit a charity recycling program, such as Verizon’s HopeLine program, which benefits domestic abuse survivors; AT&T’s Support for the Troops program, which helps troops call home from overseas; and Virgin Mobile Mobile’s RE*Generation program which helps kids living on the street on in less than ideal homes. See www.recyclewirelessphones.com for more info.
Lions Club International collects old glasses at locations around the country and gives them to folks who can’t afford them. You can even send them directly to the club; just see lionsclub.org for more info.
If the darn thing won’t come on anymore, most manufacturers will recycle your computer for you. Some will charge a fee and make you foot the bill for the shipping, so read the fine print. See Earth911.org for links to other companies and organizations that will take them off your hands, many for free. If it still works, contact your local school, youth center or nursing home to see if they have any use for it.
Chances are, if you’re looking to get a new car in this market, the one you have is a real goner. But it can give it a new life if you donate it to Cars4Charities. Just fill out the donation form on cars4charities.com, and they’ll pick up your car, repair it, fix it and sell it. Proceeds go to one of 1,000+ charities, including the Diabetes Research Institute Foundation and the National Coalition for the Homeless. Bonus? You can deduct the value of the car on your taxes.
Even your old gym shoes can get into the act. Nike’s Reuse-A-Shoe program shreds those pairs cluttering your closet and turns them into athletic tracks. Just go to letmeplay.com to find out where you should drop them.
—Kenrya Rankin Naasel