Send your old stuff to a new home



I’m desperately trying to un-stuff our house this year. We have too much stuff. Who doesn’t? In honor of Earth Day next week, I’m trying to find ways to reduce, re-use and recycle as much as possible during our spring cleaning/home improvement craziness.

Actually, we’re installing new flooring in two rooms and that’s the real reason for the push to organize/clean out junk. Who am I kidding? It’s not really about Earth Day at all. It just so happens that I have a lot of junk to get rid of right now.

But, as the old saying goes, one person’s trash is another one’s treasure. Just look at people scavenging the Spring Clean-Up piles lining the streets of Grand Junction. I actually have some friends posting messages on Facebook in search of certain items, asking friends to keep their eyes peeled for a doghouse or old furniture. It’s even better than Dumpster diving because you don’t have to actually climb in and out of a trash container.

People throw out all kinds of stuff. I’m always thrilled when someone else wants my leftovers. For that reason, I’m determined to avoid sending as much stuff as possible to the landfill. Here are some ideas for getting rid of stuff that I’ve used instead of contributing more garbage to that ever-growing underground pile in the desert.

Old electronics — If they still work, consider donating them to someone who can use them. I’m not talking about 30-year-old TVs that are monstrous enough to substitute for a coffee table in your living room (those vacuum tubes just cause headaches for people who need to dispose of them properly). Thrift stores don’t want them.

But if you got a new camera for Christmas, why is the old one (that still works) sitting in the closet? A simple Google search revealed a few organizations and schools that would love to receive a donation of my old cameras that still work great.

Don’t think that no wants an old film camera. If it’s a film SLR (not a point-and-shoot), there are schools that find these useful. Yes, there are still old-school film photography classes. And if you have a really nice digital camera, you might be able to re-sell it.

If you have broken electronics, recycle them. You can’t just throw anything with a cord into the landfill. Heavy metals can leach into the soil, contaminating groundwater and causing other problems. Colorado law requires electronic waste (e-waste) to be disposed of properly, and this rule applies to businesses and homes.

Besides, valuable materials can be reclaimed and recycled, reducing demand on mining and manufacturing. E-Waste Recyclers of Colorado charges 30 cents per pound for all e-waste (FYI, the county charges 42 cents per pound, plus a fee for using credit cards). Go to for information.

Leftover home-improvement project materials — Donate these to the Habitat for Humanity ReStore (if it’s something other people can use — I’m not talking about your ancient Pepto Bismol-colored commode here). Or, you never know who might be looking for cheap materials on Craigslist or in the newspaper classifieds (or in Facebook groups). I was incredibly surprised to have a partial box of tile snapped up within minutes of posting an ad. And I’d rather have a little cash than leftover boxes of tile in the garage, wouldn’t you?

The only exception here is hazardous materials, such as paint, pesticides or other chemicals. Those need to go to the Household Hazardous Waste Collection Facility, located at the Mesa County Landfill. They accept materials from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday.

Home goods/clothes — If you’re ambitious enough to have a yard sale, go for it. If not, donate to a thrift store. I only donate things that are in working order, in good shape and are clean (yes, I even wash all the clothes I donate so they smell nice). Keep in mind that thrift stores are not dumping grounds, and you don’t want to pass on junk to them that they will need to pay to dispose of.

Many of the secondhand stores in our community use their proceeds to fund projects. The Fruita Thrift Shop funds the Imagination Library, donates to medical facilities and a food bank regularly, for example. Your usable stuff is transformed into useful services at places like this. See, it really is treasure!

Erin McIntyre is an advanced master gardener, writer and Grand Valley native. Please email her at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) with story ideas or feedback.


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