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How to Recycle Paint, Shoes and Other Odds and Ends

Jessica Cottrell

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Since January is Get Organized month, it seemed fitting to write a post about those items that people typically don’t know how to dispose of.  We all have one or two items kicking around the basement or garage that we don’t really want or need, but we just don’t know what to do with. Keep reading to find out how to declutter your home without adding to the landfill.

1)     Paints:  I don’t know about you, but I have some paint samples hanging around from when I was trying to decide what color to paint my living room.  I also maybe have a can of paint that matches the color the living room USED to be sitting in my basement that I haven’t wanted to deal with.  A quick web search revealed that a great first step is to think about if you know anyone who could use some paint.  Habitat for Humanity or other groups may be interested in good condition paint.  In thinking for a few minutes, I realized I know of some kids painting a mural that may love some free paint!  For all the paint that you need to dispose of, the folks at www.paintcare.org can help if you live in one of the states they service, or you can call them at 1-855-724-6809 for information about how to best dispose of all varieties of paints and some other chemical products like roof patch and motor oil!  If you don’t live in their area, you can try a quick web search with the search term “How do I dispose of paint in (your state)” and you should find someplace near you.

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2)     Electronics:  Old cameras, phones, computers, printers… most of us have at least one old piece of equipment hanging around because we know that we shouldn’t toss it, but where does it go?  Best Buy is a great resource; according to their website, they accept small electronics and old rechargeable batteries at US locations, check the link to their page for some store FAQ’s.

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3)     Shoes:  Shoes in good shape that may have been outgrown should be donated, if you don’t have a favorite local charity, you can check out Soles 4 Souls, which has a variety of drop-off locations and will pass your shoes on to someone in need.  If you have athletic shoes that aren’t in great condition, you can drop them off at a Nike store to be repurposed into sports surfaces, click here for more details.

4)     Clothing:  I’m pretty sure we all know that you can donate or consign clothes in good condition, but who hasn’t guiltily thrown an item of clothing in the trash because of a stain or small tear?  Well, guilt no more!  First, you could upcycle those old clothes; cut them into squares and use them as cleaning rags!   If you just don’t want the old clothes in the house anymore, you can contact H&M or The North Face, both of which will accept clothing in any condition from any manufacturer.  Patagonia has a cool program where you can bring in old Patagonia clothing, but they also have classes to teach you how to get more out of your clothing so you need to buy new gear less often, lessening environmental impact.  I also found many local programs, so feel free to do a search for an option in your area. 

There are so many more items, but even in researching I found a few items that I know I can now recycle.  One last tip – do not be afraid to call your local recycling center if you have something you don’t know what to do with.  I once had a box of old VHS tapes and was surprised to learn that I could toss them right in my single stream recycling bin, the folks at my local recycling center were happy to tell me what they do and don’t accept.  Please feel free to leave your tips for other hard to dispose of items below!