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Picking a Green Theme: Household Items

Posted by Shivi Kakar

May 19, 2009 11:25:01 AM

Businesses, Charities & Groups that Can Help You be Green

Barbara Glynn Alves


Everybody’s jumping on the Green bandwagon and there is a lot of information out there about just how to do that - maybe too much information for the average busier than busy American. It reminds me of the Nilssen song from Midnight Cowboy, “Everybody’s talkin’at me. Can’t hear a word their saying ... ”

Short of living like the Amish, going Green can simply mean personally figuring out which of our energy grubbing, earth-polluting habits need to go and which need to stay in our lives. I think the best approach is to pick your cause or theme and stick to it. Mine … I try to keep as much as possible out of the local landfill, in particular, non-food related household items.
I have found lots of help in the form of charities, businesses and groups who do nothing but promote recycling, reusing and repurposing our household throw-aways.

For this posting, let’s look at bigger household items:

Petals for Progress – this is one of my all time favorites! P4P collects used bicycles and sewing machines, refurbishes them and ships them around the world for needy people and businesses. The P4P website tells us, “Every year, affluent Americans buy 22 million new bicycles and discard millions of old ones, abandoning many more unused in basements, sheds, and garages. Most of these end up in our already overburdened landfills. Meanwhile, poor people overseas need cheap, non-polluting transportation to get to jobs, markets, customers, and school.” You can easily find a local collection event on their website

The Freecycle Network™ is a really great idea. This network, made up of 4,743 groups with 6,718,589 members across the globe, helps you give your stuff away! It's entirely nonprofit and comprised of people who are giving (and getting) stuff for free in their own towns and thus keeping good stuff out of landfills.

Don’t forget the Salvation Army! You can bring all types of gently used items to their Thrift Stores. Some branches may even pick up. Just a zip code entry on their website will give you a list of stores with the approximate miles from your home. The nearest to my house was only 8 miles.

There are businesses that will haul your stuff away for a fee such as 1-800-GOTJUNK, which is franchised nationwide. From their website, “Every day our teams donate and recycle as much junk as possible. At a corporate level, we’ve also taken steps to decrease our carbon footprint by participating in Million Acts of Green, a Canadian grassroots initiative to help reduce our impact on the environment.”

Or you can try a local business. A quick search on the web brought me to Recycling Angels who states, “We are committed to keeping our planet clean by recycling as much of your unwanted clutter as possible. “

Look for professional recyclers through Recycler’s World & the Recycler's Exchange which is a membership of professional recycling companies for all types of industries. Homeowners can use their website to search for local firms.

Other Choices: Our town has a Department of Community Services that oversees the Community Service Hours some of our friends, family and neighbors may have to serve for less than stellar behavior such as DWI. They have a huge collection area and will take almost any usable household item. Check to see if your town or county has a similar program - or think about your local university fraternities! These guys are always in need of furniture, fridges, dishes, etc., and they will be glad to pick them up. Both and will give you a complete listing from Acacia to Zeta Psi.

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has an entire section on their website dedicated to making us responsible recyclers. Check out on the hazards in many household products, how to dispose and recycle them with some helpful links from for federal environmental professionals. They also have shopping tips to help make smart decisions at the store with resource conservation in mind.

Stay tuned – my next posting will focus on E-waste (Electronic waste) and miscellaneous household items.

Topics: health and safety, EPA, Compliance, Working Green, landfill

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