How To: Donate and Recycle Common Household Items

Spring Curers are right in the the middle of eight weeks of decluttering and cleaning. Getting rid of stuff can be difficult. Apart from separation anxiety, you have to figure out how to get rid of it. To make the process a little simpler, we've pulled together a list of suggestions for selling, donating, or recycling common household items...• Furniture: Donate good furniture to places like the Brown Elephant, Goodwill, and the Salvation Army. Sell quality furniture through craigslist, or give it away through freecycle. We don't advocate sending furniture to the dump if you can help it, but we've had trouble finding ways to recycle broken furniture in Chicago. If anyone has suggestions for recycling damaged furnishings, let us know in the comments below.

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Computers and Electronics: Working electronics can be sold on e-bay or craigslist. Both working and non-working computers can be donated to programs that refurbish old computers for schools. To find local computer recycling sites, click here, and click here for genereal electronics recycling information.

Clothes: You can sell clothing in good condition to consignment or resale shops. To donate clothes, wash them and give them to organizations like Goodwill or the Salvation Army. These groups sort threadbare textiles and sell them to recyclers. For more information on how the clothing donation chain works, see this article from National Geographic's Green Guide.

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Baby Items and Childrens' Toys: Donate baby items and working toys to thrift shops or organizations in need of childrens' items. You can also sell baby items in good condition to specialty consignment shops. To sell collectible toys, list your items on e-bay. Many items in toys and games are recyclable, so if you have a broken toy, take it apart and recycle any paper, plastic, or metal parts.

Appliances: Working appliances can be donated to thrift stores or charities. Since appliances are made mostly from steel, many of their parts can also be recycled. The Chicago Recycling Coalition lists scrap metal sites that accept small volumes from individuals.

Cleaning Supplies and Household Waste: Hazardous household waste includes paints, batteries, toxic chemicals, fluorescent light bulbs, cleaning products, and just about anything that shouldn't be released into the environment through a landfill or through flushing. Click here for ways to dispose of hazardous household waste.

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Books: Books in good condition can be sold to consignment shops or donated to thrift stores. When we wrote a post on How To Declutter Your Bookshelf, we got tons of good suggestions on getting rid of books, including donating to 826CHI, Books to Prisoners, Pages to Prisoners, Chemotherapy Patient Donations, giving away books to friends, and donating to your local library.

For lots more tips on how and where to recycle items in Chicago, check out the Chicago Recycling Coalition.

Photos: Morguefile

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