Recycling Household Items

One Man’s Junk is Another’s Treasure – Recycling Household Items

Maybe it has something to do with opening the windows and letting fresh air inside, but we’re all ready to get rid of the dusty clutter that plagues our households in the spring. Before you grab a giant garbage bag and start aimlessly tossing things into the dumpster, why not consider donating common items around the house for someone else’s benefit?

Too many people think they can’t afford to give or that they have nothing to offer. But the truth is that even the stuff that you would consider “junk” as it lurks in the corner of your kids’ bedrooms, the garage and the kitchen can be extremely useful to the right people.

Finding and embracing a creative way to dispose of our battery operated and electrical devices is now a necessity. If you’re one of those people with a box of old cell phones stored in a closet, there is no need to toss the old ones during spring cleaning — the parts are well worth salvaging. Below is a list of items that can be recycled – or “e-cycled.”

  • Mobile phones;
  • Personal music devices, such as iPods;
  • Computer equipment, such as monitors, CPUs, keyboards, printers, cables and scanners;
  • Video game systems, including hand-held controllers and other equipment;
  • Cameras.

If you’re stumped for a place to recycle these precious items so they find a new life, there are a few websites that can help. One to visit is, where you can put in your zip code and discover one of their 30,000 nationwide drop-off areas for electronic items. is another helpful site that tells consumers about local recycling and donation programs.

Getting rid of clothing in the spring comes naturally to many people, since summer means, well, less clothing. But what to do with the excess material? Here are a few ideas.

  • Have a clothing swap with your friends, family members and even the kids. Make it fun by offering snacks, beverages, music – or even games such as a modeling competition.
  • Donate the clothing to local shelters or organizations that will make sure it lands in grateful hands.
  • Try your hand at having a garage or yard sale one Saturday morning. You could even donate the proceeds from your venture when you’re finished.

Don’t even think about throwing a toy away. When a toy loses parts or stops working, you can often replace it (or the parts) under warranty, so check with the company first. If the toy is in perfectly good condition, there is no need to toss it. Try these ideas instead:

  • Give the item to a neighbor’s child or a friend’s child who hasn’t outgrown it.
  • Drop the toys off at a children’s hospital or a pediatrician’s office.
  • Donate the toys to an orphanage or other home for abandoned or neglected children.
  • Sell the items in your garage or yard sale, then donate the funds to the children’s charity of your choice.

Aside from just ridding yourself of clothes, toys and old phones, you might have furniture or decorative items around your home that you’re dying to replace. Or you might even be moving. Visit for information on getting your items picked up at your home. It’s a free service, and you can donate to the charity of your choice.

Aside from the obvious furniture items, you might want to consider these in the donation process as well:

  • Kitchenware, such as pots, pans, silver and dishes;
  • Artwork, such as paintings, knickknacks for mantels and tabletops or tapestries;
  • Rugs;
  • Appliances, such as toasters, grills, slow-cookers or blenders;
  • Books.

Odds and Ends
There are a few items that you might forget are hanging around the house or garage – and you might not think they’re worth much to anyone. But you’d be surprised what other people can do with these items.

  • Old magazines or newspaper can be cut into pieces and used for art projects in your local schools or after-school programs.
  • Cans, buckets or jars can hold all sorts of different items – from pens and pencils in a coffee can to flowers planted inside an old bucket.
  • Soap and other “gift” items you didn’t use make great donations to churches and shelters.

Remember, spring cleaning can be even more refreshing when you think about others. It’s easy to find a worthy cause where your items will be appreciated.

Garret Stembridge is part of the team at Extra Space Storage, a leading provider of self-storage facilities. Garret often writes about storage and organization topics for homes and for businesses.