Posts with term ZWB X

How to Recycle Clothes & Shoes That Aren't In Good Condition

It would make life a lot easier if clothes lasted forever, but unfortunately, that's not the case. After a lot of wear and tear and washing and drying, most clothing items start to get worn out, dirty, and just generally old-looking - not exactly something you want to keep wearing if you don't have to. When it's time to get rid of clothing, though, you really don't want to throw it in a garbage bag as waste. Old clothing can, and should, be recycled and re-used, even if it's not looking in its best. If the clothes are really beat up, you probably can't donate them - most thrift shops won't take them, and giving ripped up, filthy items to a charity isn't advisable — so what should you do with them? You can still recycle clothes and shoes that aren't in good condition, it just might take a little extra work, but it's worth it, we swear.
The Council for Textile Recycling says that the United States generates an average of 25 billion pounds of textiles a year in the form of clothing, shoes, accessories and more, which comes out to about 82 pounds per person. 85 percent of that will end up in municipal landfills, which can add up to about 21 billion pounds of post-consumer textile waste. Do you really want to contribute to that? Hopefully not, but unfortunately, the amount of clothing we toss in the garbage is only increasing. In 2009, the Council estimated that we would generate more than 35 billion pounds of textile waste in 2019. What makes these numbers even worse is that almost all clothes and shoes are recyclable, even though only about 15 percent of textiles produced every year are recycled. Don't contribute to the wrong side of this! Learning how to recycle your clothing and shoes, even if they're not in great condition, is an important contribution to our environment. Here are a few options on how to do so:

1Look into textile recycling

Textile recycling might not be as easy as throwing the items into a bin, dragging it to the curb, and waiting for someone else to pick it up, but that doesn't mean it doesn't exist. Search for clothing recycling bins in your area, many of which will take clothing in any condition, and drop off your items for free. Companies like the American Textile Recycling Services collect donations at drop-off locations, then sort through everything. There are also plenty of websites, like Recycle Now, that help you find bins in your area.

2Donate them to places that take old clothing

There are also certain donation spots that will actually take your super old clothing and get them recycled for you. Some Goodwill locations will also recycle clothing too damaged to sell. In fact, the LaPorte County Solid Waste District in Indiana says that only about 20 percent of the clothing donated to places like Goodwill and the Salvation Army even gets sold, while the rest is sold to textile recyclers. The companies get money for the clothing, and that money goes towards charities. Some go to foreign markets, while some end up being used for things like insulation and upholstery stuffing.

3Talk to thrift shops

The above goes for thrift stores as well as charities like Goodwill and the Salvation Army. Thrift stores often get more donations than they need and they don't just throw away the items they can't use. While some thrift stores won't take worn out clothing, some do — and they just recycle what they don't use. If you regularly go into a thrift store or you're familiar with one, go in and ask what their practices are. Be sure they aren't just throwing them away.

4Drop them off at stores that will help

There are even some big-name stores that will accept old clothes and help them get recycled. Levi Strauss & Co., H&M, and The North Face stores will take your old clothes and shoes fro you, recycle them, and even give you a reward for it. According to Clark, other stores with similar programs include American Eagle Outfitters and Eileen Fisher. Madewill also takes old denim and sends it to a green company that turns it into housing insulation.

5See if they can be composted

According to RecycleBank, clothing made of cotton and other natural fibers can be composted, as long as they aren't blended with synthetic fibers like polyester. To compost these, shred them finely and remove any attachments, like zippers or buttons.

6Turn them into rags to use around your house

If you really don't want to go out of your way to recycle your items or drop them off somewhere, you can recycle them yourself at home. Old clothing often makes great cleaning rags. Simply cut up the clothes and turn them into rags for dusting and cleaning - you'll save money, keep your home clean, and reuse otherwise destroyed items.

7Look up other textile recycling programs

There are so many more textile recycling programs out there than you'd think. To find them, you just need to do a little bit of research. Terracycle offers a Fabrics and Clothing Zero Waste Box that you can fill with clothing and fabric, then ship to Terracycle so they can repurpose it. Have old bras you don't know what to do with? The Bra Recyclers takes old bras at drop-off stations or you can even mail them in to be repurposed or recycled. Soles 4 Souls is a national shoe recycling program for your old shoes. Nike also has a Reuse-A-Shoe program where they take old athletic shoes, grind them up, and use them to create courts, fields, tracks, and playgrounds.

Thinking of Going Zero Waste? Here’s What to Do With the Plastic You Already Have

So, you’ve decided to go plastic-free. The only problem is, you’ve spent these many years accumulated plastic products, single-use or otherwise. Your bathroom is full of plastic shampoo bottles, the fridge has tons of food in plastic containers, who knows what other plastic products are lurking in the living room, your work desk, and otherwise? Maybe you’re wondering: What the heck should you do with all the plastic you already have?
This is where Terracycle comes in! Terracycle is a privately-owned U.S. recycling business that accepts tons of hard-to-recycle materials. More than 80,000,000 people use Terracycle and together, users have recycled 4,104,054,370 items that otherwise would have went to the landfill.
Terracycle recycles nearly everything; from coffee capsules and pens to gloves and makeup containers, Terracycle collects from individuals and companies alike, diverting tons of pounds of unrecyclable, non-biodegradable waste from landfills.
Registering for Terracycle is completely free. After registering, browse through the website to find the right recycling program for you. There are tons! Just to name a few, there is a fabric care recycling program, which collects products and packaging like #5 PP plastic laundry bottle caps, #2 HDPE rigid plastic laundry bottles, and paperboard laundry care packaging.
That’s only one example; Terracycle has so many recycling programs: a free drink pouch recycling program on Walmart.com, an Eos recycling program, a red Solo cup recycling program, and more. Other programs include Febreze bottles, Flonase, energy bar wrappers, Tom’s of Maine natural care products (like the toothpaste at Trader Joe’s!), and Barilla pasta.
After signing up for the individual recycling programs that make the most sense for your household and the waste you create, Terracycle will email you a prepaid shipping label. (Alternatively, for some recycling programs, Terracycle will provide a drop-off location, but most are send-away.) Adhere the prepaid shipping label to a box full of the products you’d like to recycle, then ship it out. Terracycle will reward you in a points system and eventually, you’ll get rid of all that plastic!
During the holiday season, Terracycle offered a Holiday Bonus Bucks program in conjunction with Feed America. Frequent Terracycle recyclers were able to give back to charity the more points accrued. Just 50 Terracycle points provides a meal for an American family facing hunger. Alternatively, if you have a different charity you’d like to donate to, instead of Feeding America, you were able to specify which one you’d like to contribute to.

Reader question: How do I recycle broken toys and books?

Reader Angie sends in this question: I have lots of toys (mostly plastic) that cannot be donated or passed down. They either broken or missing parts. How do I recycle them? Can I just put them in the recycling bin? What about children’s books that are either ripped, missing covers, or stained. Can I put them in the recycling bin as well? One more question: What is a good way to store books for a long time to be passed down? Many parents struggle with these questions Angie so thank you for asking!

Toy disposal

Before we look at recycling, there are other ways to keep toys out of the waste stream. Many people take toys and parts of toys and create new toys and various types of art. Check out: I’m not suggesting that you become an artist in your spare time but consider listing the pile of broken toys on Craigslist or Freecycle and see if a creative-type person or artistic group wants them. One of the more complicated parts about recycling is that every municipality has a different recycling program. The best thing to do is to visit your city’s website and find the information about recycling. Cities may have more recycling options if you are able to drop off at their depot. Earth911 does a great job of explaining the mystery of why toys are so difficult to recycle. Another option for recycling toys is to contact TerraCycle and purchase a Zero Waste Toy BoxTerraCycle will ship you an empty box, you fill it with broken toys then ship the box back using the pre-paid shipping label. TerraCycle will separate the toy’s components and ensure they get into the correct recycling stream. The Zero Waste Boxes are expensive ($95 USD for the small toys box) so you may want to collaborate with other parents in your neighbourhood, community centre, school, or house of worship. After all, saving the planet is a good cause.

Book disposal

Most untreated paper can be recycled. Many books — especially children’s books cannot because they have been treated with wax, glues, or plastic coating. Investigate your municipality’s recycling website to see what the options are for recycling books. Earth911 explains the mysteries of book recycling and has some great suggestions for used books including books in “less than prime” condition. TerraCycle also has a Zero Waste Book Box which might be an option for your school or local library.

Book preservation

Reading with children is a great way to form a lasting bond. I kept many of our children’s favourite books including the entire Franklin the Turtle series. To tell the truth, I think I kept them more for me than for my kids. Should I be blessed with grandchildren someday, I would love to share these books with them. In addition to our best tips on how to store treasured books, I would suggest to do a gentle cleaning of children’s books. Use an old, clean and soft toothbrush to remove any caked-on food or playdough. If the books have been on a shelf for a while, vacuum the edges with a soft brush using the lowest suction setting. Blot any greasy spots with an absorbent cloth. Ensure books are dry before storing. Thanks for your great question Angie. We hope that this post gives you the information you’re looking for. Do you have a question relating to organizing, home and office projects, productivity, or any problems you think the Unclutterer team could help you solve? To submit your questions to Ask Unclutterer, go to our contact page and type your question in the content field. Please list the subject as “Ask Unclutterer.”

5 Surprising Things You Didn't Know You Could Recycle

Don’t be so quick to trash certain items. Here are 5 surprising things you didn’t know could be recycled. Take it from experts at Realtor.com, HGTV and Mental Floss.
  1. Shoes – old sneakers can be donated to people in need. Companies like Nike melt them down and make new products. North Face will even give you $10 off your next purchase.
  2. Crayons – broken crayons are melted, remade and resold. The National Crayon Recycle Program has saved over 118,000 pounds of crayons.
  3. Yoga mats – can be made into squishy, comfortable flip flops, thanks to the company Sanuk.
  4. Wine corks – can be turned into flat sheets of tile for flooring or sandals, thanks to companies like TerraCycle and SOUL.
  5. Contact lenses – billions of contact lenses are flushed every year and end up in our oceans. Bausch + Lomb will recycle them for free.
It’s clear to see how recycling has many benefits.

Combating fast fashion, wasting less

After graduating last May with a degree in fashion merchandising and design, Missouri State alumna Melanie Reyes started her own clothing company called Wasteless Apparel, selling a variety of colorful handmade clothing all created with a common goal: zero textile waste. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, more than 16 million tons of used textile waste was generated in 2015 in the United States — 10.5 million tons of this textile waste ends up in landfills. Reyes said she refuses to contribute to the growing environmental problems arising from the fashion industry and wanted to start a company that creates handmade, sustainable clothing. “I think people should spend their money on things that are good quality and not necessarily go for the things that are sold in high quantity,” Reyes said. “Major clothing companies like Forever 21 make products as quickly and as cheaply as possible. It’s fast fashion.”
According to Merriam-Webster, fast fashion is the design, creation and marketing of clothing fashions that emphasizes making fashion trends quickly and cheaply available to consumers “Trends usually last a week or two, and then (the company) moves onto the next thing,” Reyes said. But the problem with this fast-fashion system, Reyes said, is that consumers often dispose of clothing that is “no longer trendy” into landfills instead of recycling or donating the clothing. Clothes from big name companies are often made overseas in sweatshops by children for little pay, Reyes said. According to the International Labor Organization, 152 million children are victims of child labour, and almost half of them work in hazardous child labour. Reyes said her company is the future of fashion, and customers can wear her clothes in good consciousness. “You know where it comes from, and you know someone is working hard in a good ethical environment to create what you’re wearing,” Reyes said. She became inspired to start her own clothing company after an internship in New York with Lilly Fashion, a manufacturing company that creates clothes for Paris Fashion Week — a famous fashion show held in France. “It was a really cool experience just seeing how professionals do their business and witnessing all these new designers come in and working for themselves,” Reyes said. “It really inspired me, and that’s when I decided, ‘I can do this. I can be my own boss.’” Wasteless Apparel was started on April 1, 2018, with the help of her social media coordinator, Sav Snow. Snow is a student at Ozark Technical Community College majoring in graphic design technology. Snow takes and edits pictures for the company Instagram and creates all of the social media captions and posts. Reyes and Snow met through social media after Reyes posted she was in need of a social media coordinator for the brand. “I love what Mel is all about: She won’t use products that harm animals (and) she’s against using products from big clothing companies that use children to make clothes for hardly any money,” Snow said. “She wants to create local, quality products that aren’t too expensive and are up with today’s trends. “Mel wants her customers to truly be happy with what she’s making. She’s not just in it for the money. With most retail clothing stores you don’t get that personal touch that you do with Mel.” Wasteless Apparel offers a wide variety of ‘70s and ‘80s inspired looks, custom orders, thrifted and vintage clothing and everything in between. Reyes makes both men’s and women’s clothing, but she currently has mostly women’s clothing posted on her social media. She plans to incorporate more men’s clothing in the near future. Reyes is starting a Valentine’s collection that will include men’s clothing, and shortly after, she will be doing an exclusive men’s collection. One of Reyes’ customers, Nick Simmonds, contacted her about a custom retro baseball jersey. “I think her company is super impressive,” Simmonds said. “The whole wasteless concept makes sense to me because there’s no reason to be making all new products when someone like Mel can upcycle and make something custom that means something to you out of things that have been donated or thrifted.” Simmonds bought a retro style baseball jersey before for $120 online — Reyes is customizing one for $75.
“It’s custom made, plus I’m getting it embroidered; it’s almost a steal,” Simmonds said. “She’s earned a customer for life.” Reyes spends almost every waking moment sewing clothes for Wasteless Apparel. “If I’m not with friends or sleeping, I’m sewing in my studio or thrifting,” Reyes said. “Everything to do with my shop consumes my free time. It’s a hobby, but it’s also my entire life — it’s therapeutic.” Reyes buys her fabric from local thrift stores and fabric stores; if she buys new fabric, none of it goes to waste. Her studio is full of bins overflowing with fabric, waiting to get shipped off and recycled. A company called TerraCycle turns fabric scraps and unused clothing into insulation and pillow stuffing. Reyes currently works out of her studio in her boyfriend’s home in Springfield, but she said she hopes to open up a store in Springfield. If she expands, moving out of state is also a possibility. For now, Reyes is sticking to online sales. “Online is definitely easier when it comes to reaching people from all over,” Reyes said. “It’s also better when it comes to sustainability. People have to drive to stores, and that contributes to pollution.”

Did Marie Kondo Inspire You to Clean Out Your Closet This Weekend? Here Are the 5 Best Ways to Do It

Netflix and chill? After a single episode of Tidying Up With Marie Kondo, you will not feel chill. It doesn’t induce quite the same anxiety as, say, an episode of Hoarders, but you’re more than likely to find yourself mentally taking stock of your bookshelves, junk drawers, medicine cabinet, and, most intensely (for us, at least), closet. You might feel a sudden urge to throw your wardrobe in a pile on the floor (this step is crucial to Kondo’s method), pick up each garment one by one, and ask yourself if it “sparks joy.” Next, you’ll stuff the rejects in a dozen trash bags (did I say a dozen? I meant two or three . . . I don’t have a problem . . . ) and send them off to your local donation center. Not only will you feel lighter, but you’ll never think about that stuff again—out of sight, out of mind!   For many of us, cleaning out our closet factors into “spring cleaning” and other responsible adult rituals. For others, it’s an enormous chore that we put off, and put off, until inspiration strikes—most recently in the form of Kondo’s TV show (or book, if you were an early disciple). She’s single-handedly launched a “tidying up” movement: Goodwill, the Salvation Army, and other donation centers have received a record number of unwanted clothes in these first weeks of 2019. In fact, on the Today show this morning, Hoda Kotb and Jenna Bush Hager discussed the trend, focusing on what many of us have perceived as its charitable, altruistic results. The more donations, the better, right? Not always. We’re certainly not going to discourage you from donating, but we’ve recently learned that only a fraction of donations end up on the sales floor. The rest are often shipped to India or Africa, places that actually don’t need more of our cast-offs; there are literally mountains of clothes sitting there without a purpose.   Anything is better than just throwing your clothes away, of course, particularly if they’re made from synthetic fibers that won’t decompose in a landfill. But before you haul everything to a donation center, consider a few other ways to clean out your closet—and even make some extra cash.  

Sell your stuff!

Donation centers aren’t the only places receiving record amounts of unwanted clothes. Secondhand shops like Beacon’s Closet are busier than ever, tooThredUp, “the world’s largest online thrift store,” reported a 50 percent increase to site traffic since January 1, the day Kondo’s show premiered. On top of that, requests for ThredUp’s clean-out kits (which you fill with clothes and ship to their HQ to be sold online) increased by a whopping 70 percent in the first week of January. Since then, the number of daily bag requests has consistently been 57 percent higher than average.   ThredUp makes it crazy-easy to unload your stuff and make some cash—just fill up their clean-out kit, set up a mail pickup, and they handle the rest. Whatever they don’t take gets “reused or responsibly recycled.” Or you can take secondhand sales into your own hands through apps like Depop, Poshmark, Tradesy, and eBay—and if you have luxury items, you can easily ship them to The RealReal, Vestiaire Collective, and Rebag (which send back the items they won’t accept).  

Organize a swap meet.

Back in 2017, designers Cary Vaughan and Jenna Wilson launched a global, virtual swap meet on Black Friday to combat the holiday’s message of frenzied, more-is-more consumerism. The fact that more designers haven’t followed their lead is surprising. If you have stuff you no longer want but can’t (or don’t want to) sell, chances are it will feel brand new to your friends, and vice versa. Not only does swapping extend the lifespan of your garments, but it reduces the need to go out and buy a bunch of brand-new clothing, too. Maybe you’ll end up partially filling all of that space you created in your closet—but at least it will be with items that already existed.  

Repair or upcycle the pieces you’ve damaged or fallen out of love with.

Chalk it up to “millennial fatigue,” but the idea of getting to a tailor to have something altered or repaired sounds like an impossible task. Consider the pair of too-long lavender trousers in my closet . . . which I bought almost a year ago. Is there a tailor one block away from my apartment? Yes. Have I walked the 12 steps it would take to get in the door? Absolutely not. I’m vowing to finally do it this season (and will get the buttons reinforced on my vintage suede jacket, too). If you have stuff that’s damaged, or even stuff that’s perfectly fine that you no longer wear, you can have it tweaked (or turned into something else entirely) with Atelier & Repairs. Founder Maurizio Donadi launched A&P after working in the fashion industry for 35 years, where he witnessed a vast amount of textile waste and overproduction. Instead of creating new garments, he and his team upcycle and transform “forgotten” pieces into new, one-of-a-kind items that are exponentially more interesting. If you (like me) have a stockpile of unworn denim, he’s doing a pop-up installation at 180 the Store on January 31 to customize and “give a second life” to once-loved jeans.        

Recycle the stuff you can’t sell or upcycle.

By now, most of us know plastic, cardboard, glass, and other recyclable materials don’t belong in a landfill. But even your most “woke” friends likely aren’t recycling their textiles, at least not the right way. What do you do with old towels, sheets, underwear, and worn-out T-shirts, anyway? Throw it in the dumpster? Not quite. There are tons of ways to recycle textiles: New Yorkers can take their stuff to Green Tree, which partners with farmers’ markets throughout Manhattan and Brooklyn; TerraCycle will send you a zero-waste box to fill up; and stores like & Other Stories and Madewell will give you a discount on your purchase if you bring in clothes or jeans to recycle, respectively. Textiles are often recycled to create housing insulation, but they can also be spun into new fibers for designers to use.   It’s a lot easier to recycle natural textiles—cotton, linen, wool, et al.—of course. Polyester is often very difficult, if not impossible, to recycle into new yarns, and fabrics made from a cocktail of synthetics are off the table, too. In the future, ideally all clothes would be at least partially recyclable, but that will heavily depend on designers and manufacturers. Patagonia already accepts garments to recycle through its Common Threads program, and some of the most luxurious brands in the biz are getting behind the idea, too. Twenty-five percent of Alessandro Sartori’s new Ermenegildo Zegna collection was made from leftover or deadstock wools, nylons, and cashmeres—and even more impressive, Sartori intends for his clients to bring those garments back to Zegna to be recycled again in the future.  

Donate the rest.

Clothes that you can’t or won’t sell, swap, repair, or upcycle should be donated (but only if they’re in decent condition). There are major nonprofit organizations like Goodwill and the Salvation Army, which will accept your heaping bags of clothing, shoes, accessories, and home goods. But before you gather everything in a pile, consider if some of those pieces might be suited to a particular charity: If it’s a nice dress, blazer, or blouse, take it to Dress for Success. Cocktail and bridesmaid dresses should go to Becca’s Closet or Operation Prom, which both provide prom dresses to high school girls in need, and you can donate shoes to adults and children in need around the world with Soles4Souls.  

21 Useful Products That'll Actually Help Declutter Your Entire Home

We hope you love the products we recommend! Just so you know, BuzzFeed may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. Oh, and FYI — prices are accurate and items in stock as of time of publication.

1. A copy of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up because the first step to a truly decluttered space is actually getting rid of stuff — and this will show you how.

I mean yes, you can also totally watch the Netflix show and learn everything you need to know to get started! But the book's packed with extra motivation and tips. (Although I don't think it's the end-all be-all of how to live, I've used her system for my clothes and shoes, and it really does work.) Get it from Amazon for $10.45, Barnes & Noble for $10.58, Indiebound, or find a copy at your local library. (If the whole system seems a little — or very — impractical to you, though, I also recommend Rachel Hoffman's Unf*ck Your Habitat, $15.29 on Amazon).     I mean yes, you can also totally watch the Netflix show an learn everything you need to know to get started! But the book's packed with extra motivation and tips. (Although I don't think it's the end-all be-all of how to live, I've used her system for my clothes and shoes, and it really does work.) Promising review: "It's soaked with knowledge and super inspiring! As a chronically messy person, this book completely changed my perspective on 'tidying,' what to throw away or get rid of, and how to find joy in your space again, how to reclaim it! Honestly pretty awakening, and I think absolutely everyone could learn something from it." —rainydayshopping Get it from Amazon for $10.45, Barnes & Noble for $10.58Indiebound, or find a copy at your local library. (If the whole system seems a little — or very — impractical to you, though, I also recommend Rachel Hoffman's Unf*ck Your Habitat$15.29 on Amazon).

2. A Zero-Waste Box from Terracycle, where you (or you + your neighbors, or high school, or dorm) team up to buy a box that you then stuff with hard-to-recycle items, and mail back to Terracycle to be recycled.

    Yes, basically you're paying for your stuff to be recycled (the reason your curbside collection doesn't take all of the things = recyclers want to make money. If they can't make money on it, then you have to pay for it to happen). Read more on Terracycle, and order a small "everything" box (well, almost everything) for $184, or a beauty products and packaging pouch for $41. There are also tons of free recycling programs through Terracycle, where the companies pay for you to recycle the stuff you bought from them (that your municipal program won't accept). And these aren't only hippie/earthy brands! They include ColgateeosFebreezeFlonaseHasbro Toys, and many others.  

Recycling Mystery: Children’s Toys

As kids grow older, they inevitably grow out of their old toys. As a parent, you may be left wondering what to do with the toys they no longer play with. Responsible toy disposal and recycling are challenging issues, but this article should help bring some clarity.   If the toy is broken or damaged beyond reuse, recycling is the next best thing. To recycle children’s toys, you’ll most likely need to break them apart into separate materials. While metal and electronics components can be easier to recycle, toy pieces made of plastic and wood may be more difficult.  

Recycling Plastic Toys

  Recycling plastic toys is difficult. You are unlikely to find municipal programs that accept them. The main problem is identifying what type(s) of plastic the toys are made from. If the plastic pieces have recycling codes stamped into them, you can use the Earth911 Recycling Search and search by the plastic code to identify local recyclers of that type of plastic. But you’ll need to call the recyclers to find out if they accept toy pieces. Recyclers often accept only certain shapes of each plastic type.   As far as recycling programs specifically for toys, it’s a good idea to check with the toy manufacturer to find out if they offer a recycling program for their products. If they don’t, you can still let them know that, as a consumer of their products, you expect them to offer a responsible disposal option.   The only other recycling program you’re likely to find is run by TerraCycle. TerraCycle runs numerous recycling programs for hard to recycle items. Consumers purchase boxes for recycling a particular category of item, fill up the box and send it back. TerraCycle takes care of the recycling process.   TerraCycle runs a recycling program for toys. According to their website, these are the toys they accept:   Toys or toy pieces, cards, dice, game boards, packaging from board games, books with sound, handheld electronic games and players, remote control vehicles, electronic stuffed animals, baby toys, building sets, stuffed animals, puzzle pieces, game pieces, and action figures.   This TerraCycle program is a fantastic option, but costly. You may want to consider getting together with a few like-minded parents who also have toys to recycle so you can share the cost of a larger box.  

Recycling Metal Toys

  All-metal toys, or the metal components of toys, are probably the easiest to recycle. Most scrap yards will accept and recycle a wide variety of metal items. Just be sure to give them a call ahead of time to make sure. In most cases, you won’t need to know exactly what type of metal the items are; they’ll figure that out at the scrap yard. Check out Earth911’s listings for scrap metal recycling centers near you.  

Recycling Electronic Toys

  Most electronic toys are a combination of metal and plastic, so these can be a bit tricky. Try to separate the metal, plastic, and electronic components (circuit board and cables) of the toy so you can dispose of them separately. For the electronic components, you can try calling a local electronics recycler to see if they’ll take them.   You can use Earth911 Recycling Search to find electronics recyclers in your area. Try searching for electronicsdesktop computers, or cables at your zip code. If the toy includes a lithium-ion battery or another type of battery, you can also search the directory for a facility in your area that accepts those items, too.

Recycling Wooden Toys

  Fortunately, given the durability of most wooden toys, you should be able to give away wooden toys for someone else to use. In the rare case that the toy is completely beyond reuse, your disposal options depend on what the toy is treated with.   If the toy has an all-natural wood stain, you may be able to compost it in a commercial facility (but check with your city if they’ll accept it). If it has been painted, you’ll have to dispose of it in the garbage, as facilities can’t accept it for composting.  

Give Away or Resell

  If the toys you’re looking to dispose of still have life left, it’s always a better option to give them away to someone else who can use them. Nearly every thrift store and donation center will take toys, but if you’re not sure, head over to the Earth911 Recycling Search and take a look (the recycling search isn’t just for recycling options; reuse is a huge part of it as well). Also, consider asking local shelters or churches to see if they take toys that are in good condition.   You can also sell the toys at garage sales, on Facebook garage sale groups, and apps like Letgo. Some toys, like Legos, Hot Wheels, and Barbies actually hold their value quite well. But be honest about the condition of the toys, so people know what they’re getting.   Have you found a good option for recycling toys? Share your knowledge with the community in theEarthling Forum.

5 Tips for Decluttering Your Home

Spend a little time on Instagram or Pinterest and you’re bound to come across some very aspirational accounts. No, not exotic locales or luxury goods – it’s all about pantries, refrigerators and closets that are so pretty and tidy, even the most dedicated pack rat might find themselves fantasizing about shelf liners, baskets and color-coordinating storage containers. Amy Tokos, a Certified Professional Organizer in Omaha, Neb., said she believes decluttering and organizing are popular now because young people don’t place as much value on possessions as many of their predecessors have.   “I’ve observed college-aged kids and teenagers,” said Tokos, “and they just aren’t as attached to stuff. Fewer of them have cars, they want to live in smaller places and own just what they need, no more. For the generations before them, the goal was to get a house, get a car and acquire stuff. Now it’s more about experiences.”   Do you look at the pristine spaces on Instagram and think your home could never look like that? Well, think again. Here are tips for decluttering even the most chaotic home – and why you should bother.

Why declutter?

It may seem as though keeping a tidy home is all about appearances, but it actually has positive psychological benefits.   A 2016 study published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology found that clutter — defined by the researchers as “an overabundance of possessions that collectively create chaotic and disorderly living spaces” — has a negative impact on one’s ability to feel at home in one’s living space.   Of course, there’s a financial aspect to too much clutter, as well, especially if you’re planning on selling your home. Decluttering is often listed as one of the first steps in getting your house ready to sell, as removing unnecessary objects can make the home appear more spacious and relaxing to would-be buyers — a feeling that could result in a higher sales price. Consumer Reports estimates decluttering your home can result in a potential increase of 3% to 5% of your asking price.  

Where to declutter

Does just the thought of dealing with clutter fill you with a sense of dread? Lauren T., who blogs at AnOrganizedLife.infoand has more than 40,000 organization-loving followers on Instagram, recommends starting small.   “Start with the smallest area of your home and take the process one step at a time,” Lauren said. “Devote 10 to 15 minutes a day to tackle a kitchen drawer, a cupboard or linen closet. Set a timer — it helps!” she said.   Tokos also recommended the 15-minutes-per-day idea. “If you try to dedicate an entire day to decluttering, you’ll procrastinate. Start small, going cupboard by cupboard or zone by zone each day,” she said.   Some good places to start are these “hot spots” where people tend to accumulate the most clutter.


Have you ever heard of the Pareto Principle? In 1896, Vilfredo Pareto, an Italian economist, observed that 80% of Italy’s wealth was owned by 20% of the population. Since then, his 80/20 rule has been found to apply to many areas of our lives, including our wardrobes. As Tokos said, the average person wears 20% of their clothes 80% of the time — that’s why you have a closet full of clothes and nothing to wear.   She recommended keeping a donation basket near the closet. “If you take something off because you don’t like the way it looks or feels, put it in the donation bin,” she said.   She also recommended turning all of the clothes hanging in your closet so the hangers face back-to-front. Over the next six months to a year, when you wear an item of clothing, return it to the closet with the hanger facing the correct way. At the end the year, you’ll be able to easily see the clothing you never wear and donate it. This works with shoes, too. If you normally store your shoes with the toes pointed in, flip them around to see which ones you’re not using.  


Paper, especially mail, is a big issue for many people. Tokos recommended keeping a recycle bin just outside your door so you can dispose of most of that paper before it even comes into your house.   For papers that can’t be tossed immediately, Tokos recommended sorting them by the next action you need to take with it. For example, have a place for things to be read, bills to be paid, coupons to be used and items that need to be added to your calendar.   “Don’t just stack everything in one pile,” Tokos said. “When you organize paperwork by the next action, it’s a lot less daunting than one big pile and makes dealing with it realistic.”  

Kids’ bedroom

Most parents know how kids’ clothing and toys seem to multiply daily, so keeping their room tidy is an ongoing chore.   Tokos recommended cutting back on the amount of clothing you buy for your kids. “Kids will wear the same things over and over again. So give them five outfits they love and don’t keep anything else in the house,” she said. This tip works especially well for accessories like socks — “if your kids have 30 pairs of socks, they’ll be all over the house. If they have seven pairs, those socks become really important and you won’t find them shoved in the couch cushions.”   Lauren stays on top of her daughter’s toy clutter by maintaining a “one in, one out” rule. “If a new toy comes into the house then an existing toy must be donated to charity,” she said. She also recommends keeping a “donate” basket in your child’s closet so you can immediately weed out any clothing that’s been outgrown.  

Sentimental items

Even the most ruthless declutterer can hit a roadblock when they arrive at sentimental items like photographs, family heirlooms and kids’ artwork. But when it comes to such memorabilia, less is more.   “If you love certain items, you need to make them a treasure and only keep a few of them,” Tokos said. If you keep too many “treasures,” they start to look more like junk.   “For example,” Tokos said, “if you have 10 boxes of childhood memorabilia stored in boxes in the basement and something happens to you, your family will never go through all of those boxes. They might look through one and toss the rest.”   So pare down your collection of sentimental items and look for ways to display your keepsakes rather than storing boxes upon boxes of these items in the basement.   Lauren offered a special tip for children’s artwork. “Eighty percent of the pictures my daughter draws are automatically placed in a “send to grandparents” file. I try to mail them out at least once a month to reduce paper clutter,” she said.   No matter which area you tackle first, Lauren recommends taking everything out of the space you’re working on, cleaning it thoroughly and then making decisions on objects one-by-one.   “Before putting anything back in the space, decide what category the object falls in: Keep, Toss, Donate or Relocate. Then it becomes very simple; the toss pile is garbage that can be discarded immediately, the donate pile is a box to be donated at the end of the week or month, and things in the relocate pile can be placed back into their proper space in another area of your home.”   After purging, Lauren recommended looking at what remains before investing in some sort of organizational system. She said a shoebox can do wonders for organizing small objects rather than simply putting them place into a newly decluttered space.  

4 ways to get rid of clutter

What to do with all of the items you remove from your home? You have several options.
  • Donate them. The easiest way to get rid of unwanted items is to drop them off at a local charity or thrift shop like Goodwill or Salvation Army. Donate gently used books to your local library, work-appropriate clothing to Dress for Success and household items and building materials to Habitat for Humanity ReStore. Save your donation receipts, as you might be able to claim a tax deduction.
  • Host a garage sale. If you have a lot of stuff to get rid of, you could turn your trash into cash with a garage sale. Team up with family members or neighbors to get more inventory and make it fun.
  • Sell it online. You may be able to make more money selling certain high-value items online. Try eBayCraigslist or Facebook Marketplace.
  • Recycle it. Some of the items you need to get rid of might not be worth donating or reselling, but that doesn’t mean they need to wind up in a landfill. Many cities have bins for recycling worn-out clothing. Used athletic shoes can be dropped off at a Nike retail store for their Reuse-a-Shoe Check out TerraCycle for more free recycling programs near you or to purchase a Zero Waste Box that allows you to recycle anything from coffee pods to toothbrushes. You might also find someone near you who is interested in taking unusual items off your hands through the Freecycle Network, a network of nearly 1 million members who give and get stuff for free in their communities to keep stuff out of landfills.

The bottom line

Remember, after you’ve decluttered your home, you’ll need ongoing maintenance to keep it organized. “It has to be an everyday thing, not an annual event,” Tokos said.   She recommended setting up systems to make it easy to maintain, like keeping a donation basket in your closet and communicating with family members to make sure everyone has the opportunity to add to the donation pile.   Keeping on top of paperwork and mail is a daily chore. “The mail never stops,” Tokos said, “and the longer you let it pile up, the more overwhelming it gets. Set a timer to see how long it takes you to go through the mail. It typically takes just three minutes if you do it daily. When you time it, you realize it’s not a huge job and you can just get it done.”   To maintain the motivation, Lauren recommends taking the time to enjoy your newly organized spaces.   “Open the cupboard you just organized and designed to perfectly suit you and your life and just bask in the glow of something you created,” she said. “Be excited and love every minute of the process.”

Can You Recycle Your Christmas Gift Cards and Credit Cards?

This Christmas, you’ll undoubtedly be receiving your fair share of Christmas gift cards, particularly if you happen to have a few elderly relatives who won’t even pretend to know what constitutes a legitimate gift in 2018. Once they’ve been spent, however, what are we to do with these superfluous pieces of PVC? It might not seem like a major deal, but the hundreds of gift cards thrown away every year add up, with the 2 billion gift cards sold in the US alone making up a major part of the over 75 million pounds of PVC that goes to waste every year. It’s not only the gift card sector that should be making changes when it comes to wasted plastic either. The financial sector is making great waves to tackle their use of paper by offering incentives for “going paperless,” but are they doing enough when it comes to credit cards? No. Which means it’s up to you. Of course, it can prove incredibly cathartic to cut up and dispose of our credit cards, particularly if we’ve just been helped through a period of bad credit by Ocean Finance. The good news is that PVC is recyclable. The bad news, however, is that the process of recycling it is so difficult (largely because burning it can prove incredibly toxic) that most recycling centres won’t touch it. Also, the sensitive material stored on credit and debit cards means that the vast majority of us cut them up before throwing them away, and even the centres that do except PVC cards only accept them whole. What’s the Answer? Play it Safe – On the rare chance that your local recycling centre DOES accept credit and gift cards, make sure you remove any chips or holographic information first! Ice Ice Baby – Due to the solid nature of their PVC construction, credit and gift cards actually make for surprisingly decent and flexible ice scrapers. Cut the Cheese – For the same reason that they make ideal ice scrapers, used credit and gift cards also make oddly effective knives for whenever you’re in a pinch. Use them to spread butter and cut cheese on a picnic and you’ll never want to use a kitchen knife again! Maybe. Make Them Rock – A common Christmas gift for guitarists is the metal puncher that can use discarded PVC cards to make guitar plectrums. If you’re feeling really quirky, these homemade plectrums can also be turned into makeshift earrings. Thought you might not want to save them for special occasions. Zero Waste – The Zero Waste Box from Terracycle allows you to recycle any wallet-sized card. The cards are then separated and pelletised into brand new plastic products. However, you’ll still need to remember to cut up any cards containing sensitive information before shipping. Go Green – There are banks and gift card companies now using environmentally friendly ‘green’ cards. Some will even donate a percentage of your spending to an environmental charity! Reloaded – Finally, remember that, for gift cards at least, many retailers allow you to fill your card back up, sometimes with an added bonus. So think before you reach for the scissors next time! About the Author: Rupesh Singh is freelance writer and founder of moneyoutline.com You can follow him on Google + & Facebook.