It is very easy to throw away household items without a second thought, but is that really the best way to handle them? Many of the things that get thrown away can be disposed of in ways that make them more useful, even if they are broken or damaged to the point of not functioning as they should. Many of us own items that we have never really known what to do with, so here is some advice on how to dispose of our everyday household items without making them just another piece of trash.
Why not just throw them away?
There is technically nothing wrong with just having everything you don’t need thrown away, but it can quickly become a problem. Not only is it bad for the environment in general, but it misses out on some interesting opportunities for re-using or breaking down items into something that might actually help you do something new. While ‘real’ waste such as construction debris and old food can simply be thrown away with no need to think about them, there are many common household items that go unnoticed because they are “junk” or “waste,” even when there are better ways to clear them out of your home.
In some cases, taking an item to local recycling centers can also be a much more eco-friendly way of dealing with them, even if they are otherwise useless to you. In many cases, furniture can be broken down into recyclable parts that are much easier to handle. Otherwise, you might choose to sell some common household items or donate them to somebody who can use them.
Since there isn’t a single best way to handle any specific item, this quick guide will cover most of the common options, as well as advice on how to properly dispose of some items that you might struggle with initially.
One of the most direct ways to dispose of some household items is by throwing them away. It could be waste material, debris from a construction job or renovation, items that are damaged and no longer safe to use, or even just pieces of furniture that are good for nothing but a junk pile. Regardless of what they are, sometimes you just want to throw items away and be done with them, but it can be difficult to know how if you aren’t already prepared.
One of the quickest ways to get rid of a household item that is effectively waste is to just throw it into your normal bin or trash can. While this won’t work for everything, it can be an excellent way to get rid of common household items that don’t have any special recycling or scrapping needs, such as food packaging or old pieces of material. For example, you might choose to throw curtains away, which you can absolutely do at almost any moment.
Of course, the downside to putting items directly into your trash can is that they still need to be emptied in the same way, and you will always have limited space. In many cases, trash cans are already going to fill up quite quickly if you are throwing away a lot of food packaging and other day-to-day items, so it can be important to make sure that you don’t overload your bin or end up with no room to throw away actual waste.
Also, some items can’t be disposed of like this, no matter what. Certain liquids will need to be contained and disposed of in other ways, and corrosive materials almost always require highly specialized methods of removal. In some instances, you might not even be able to trash an otherwise normal item because it contains a material that can’t be processed by the local waste plant, although this is often rare.
While this is one of the most convenient options for clearing out old waste from your home, it is also the least inspired, and can often cause extra damage to the environment that is otherwise very easy to avoid.
Through a Dumpster
Dumpsters can be an excellent option for handling household items, acting as larger and more reliable alternatives to the humble trash can. While they might seem similar at face value, using a dumpster can give you a much larger container that is able to hold all kinds of trash and debris. A dumpster has to be delivered to your home with a truck, and it can be expensive if you keep one throughout the entire year, but that is hardly the point of them.
Renting a dumpster can, in short bursts, give you a way to remove all household waste in one go. You could clear all of the furniture out of a living room or take down an entire dividing wall and still have room for your own personal trash, and many dumpster companies also handle the disposal side of the arrangement, meaning that you just need to fill it up before the deadline and allow them to get rid of your waste.
However, it is important to note that these dumpsters usually go straight to landfills. The dumpsters themselves get re-used, but if you have any recyclable materials in there, they will also go into the landfill. For items that can’t easily be recycled, this is a great choice, but for people with an eco-friendly focus, there is often a better option available.
Recycling old waste is always the best choice for people who have it as an option, especially if the local recycling program is a good one. You can recycle almost anything: aluminum cans, paper bag containers, bottle caps, cereal boxes, glass jars, aerosol cans, and even certain types of plastic. For example, if you have furniture that you want to break down, you can dismantle it and separate the wood from the metal, then quickly take it to a recycling center to dispose of it.
Another recycling option that many people overlook is DIY. You can reduce the amount of trash in your home by spending some time recycling it into other items: this could be as simple as making a regular food can into a plant pot or turning old pieces of wood into a wall display. You don’t have to throw out every piece of material in your home just because it could be considered “trash,” and many items are very easy to turn into something new.
Remember that even some non-recyclable items can be recycled. In fact, using non-recyclable trash for DIY projects means that you don’t end up throwing it away, preventing it from going into a landfill. You might be able to use old cell phones for something new if you are good at messing around with electronics, or turn old light bulbs into a small art piece rather than simply dumping them in a trash can.
What are some household items that can be recycled?
While most of us know about the common recycling ideas that we see on every website, there is also a considerable amount of non-standard items that most households have, which can be recycled or turned into part of a DIY project. One of the best ways to approach your junk is to make it all useful, after all, so having a keen eye and a few clever ideas can save you a lot of time (and sometimes money) if you know what to look for.
Many people completely forget about junk mail, especially if they leave it in a drawer or tucked behind a certain piece of furniture so that they don’t have to deal with it. Junk letters can quickly add up, and might eventually start to become such a problem that you can’t escape seeing them anymore. If you don’t actually need the letters, you can often convert them into something more useful, or send them off to some recycling programs so that they can be turned back into paper.
If you still own an old television or other aged electronics, recycling them can sometimes be an excellent alternative to selling them. Many people simply won’t be interested in buying an old TV for anything other than a tiny amount of money, which can make it pointless to try and turn a profit on something so old. If you are getting no buyers, then you can often find businesses that will include TVs or similar electronics in their recycling programs.
Of course, you can also re-use them for DIY projects, or keep them as a spare TV for very specific occasions. Electronic experts might even decide to take apart the television entirely and use the components within for their own projects.
Many people keep drawers full of old chargers and power cables, even ones that they no longer need after they have upgraded their cell phones or moved on to other electronics. If you can identify which of these items you don’t need anymore, then you can easily turn them into a recycling program and make sure that they get used for something helpful.
Once again, old cables can also be a nice inclusion for DIY projects, even just as a visual element. It isn’t always easy to find a tough, string-like material, and there are plenty of ways to turn old cords into something a bit more unique.
How do I get rid of large household items?
The biggest problem when recycling or trying to clean up your home is the size of certain objects. Whether that is kitchen appliances, big suits of furniture, or just other items that are too large to properly dispose of in the normal way, you might find it hard to decide what to do about things that can’t fit into a normal recycling bin or trash can. However, there are ways to get rid of them quite quickly if you prepare properly.
As mentioned earlier, dumpsters offer an excellent way for individuals, families, or even whole communities to quickly get rid of larger items without needing to move them very far on their own. The most you will usually have to do is carry the item out of your home – this can be difficult either way, but at least you don’t have to fit it inside a car or van.
Hiring a dumpster can cost a certain amount of money per day, but you usually have a deadline before the original rental company comes to dispose of the contents. If you have a week, this gives you plenty of time to decide which items you want and which items you don’t. As long as you put everything you want to remove inside the dumpster before it can be picked up, you can sit back and let the company handle it for you with nothing else to worry about.
Keep in mind that you might have to work inside certain rules and restrictions. A dumpster might allow certain things (like toys, appliances, furniture, and tires) but disallow half-empty tins of paint or electronic devices. Every dumpster rental company and organization is different, and going beyond these rules can sometimes lead to extra fines: in many cases, the restrictions are there because the company can’t process a certain type of material.
Breaking them Down
While it has been hinted at here and there throughout this article, breaking down large items can be an effective – and sometimes permanent – solution to getting them into a more manageable form. This can be effective for both regular trash disposal and recycling: in either case, the item isn’t generally going to be put back together at the end, so it doesn’t matter if it arrives in pieces.
For example, you might find that a certain piece of furniture won’t fit into your vehicle, meaning that you can’t take it to the recycling center. However, if you are able to break it in half or dismantle each side into a separate piece, you might have much less trouble getting it to fit inside your vehicle. Even at a basic level, this also allows you to find any non-recyclable parts and separate them, ensuring that you are not adding any non-recyclable materials to the recycling chain.
If you are a fan of DIY, then this can still come in handy. Recycling items for your own purposes can always seem tricky, but if you break it down into the original components or pieces, it might suddenly become much more clear. For example, it is much easier to see the potential in a collection of wooden panels than in a free-standing shelf unit with nothing special about it.
What are 5 things you can do to reduce waste?
Recycling and throwing away our trash is always an option, but ideally, we should be able to reduce the amount we are creating in the first place. There is no ‘all rights reserved, copyright 2020’-style solution that a company can offer you, and it all comes down to what is possible within your own home and lifestyle. Reducing the amount of garbage we produce is never a bad thing, especially for the eco-conscious people among us.
Re-use everything. It doesn’t matter how long you have owned something or what it was originally for: everything, from drinks containers to carrier bags, can be used over and over again. You don’t even need to use them in the same way or for the exact same purpose. The longer you can avoid throwing away an item, the less trash you will produce overall.
Avoid Single-Use Items
One of the biggest enemies of recycling is the single-use container or utensil. Anything that is designed to be tossed away after use is an awful piece of junk, and the more you use them, the more of a problem it can become for the environment. While you can sometimes re-use them, this isn’t always an option.
Check Recycling Details
Never assume that something isn’t eligible for recycling. Many people assume that all plastics can’t be recycled or that certain types of cardboard aren’t able to be placed in recycling plants. Research each item, or take a look at the labels on the packaging, and try to make sure that you are correct. Not only can this help you find more items that might be recycling-friendly, but it can also stop you from trying to recycle non-recyclable items because you just assumed that they were allowed.
Another way to reduce the amount of trash you produce is to buy things that have already been owned and used. While many people have a stigma against the idea of using somebody else’s possessions, there are many cases where there isn’t even a noticeable difference in quality over a brand-new version of the same item. Considering they can also be far cheaper – and have sometimes even been modified by the previous owner in a way that makes them unique – pre-owned items are a good way of expanding your list of possessions without simply buying something brand new and leaving the old one to get scrapped.
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