This is the time of year when our family cleans out closets. While my husband and I are pretty good at cleaning out closets on a regular basis, somehow, our 11 year old daughter manages to need her room culled about four times a year. I don’t know what happens in there but I think her stuff is breeding! I’m not a packrat, but I confess to having plenty of stuff sitting in boxes in the basement — not because I have a sentimental attachment to it, but rather because I hate stuff going to landfill and always try to find better opportunities for it.
In this current round of spring cleaning, I have bags of clothes the kids have grown out of, paperbacks that need new homes, toys and arts and crafts galore. Yes it’s tempting to set everything out on the curb ready for landfill, but with a little effort, most of the stuff can find good homes. In this case, clothes go to Goodwill, paperbacks go to a local church book sale, and the toys and arts and crafts (all in good shape), go to my daughter’s school aftercare program — all avoiding landfill. I set aside a few hours one day to do all the drop-offs.
But what do you do about other things? You might be tempted to throw out old or broken electronics or pour turpentine down the drain, but doing so will add to groundwater and soil contamination or contaminate local rivers and lakes. There are two programs to help you safely dispose of your electronics or hazardous waste. Visit http://recycleyourelectronics.ca to find out which of your old electronics can be disposed of and where to go. Items such as spare computer parts, keyboards, monitors, unidentified mysterious cords, broken wireless speakers, old broken VCRs and DVD players are all accepted by this waste management program. For hazardous waste disposal visit makethedrop.ca. CFL lightbulbs, batteries, aerosol cans, paint and used turpentine should be disposed of through a specialized waste collection system usually offered by municipalities. Disposing of these products responsibly is the most important thing you can do; They contain hazardous materials such as mercury and lead, plus all kinds of metals that can be recycled into new products.
Note that there are several stores that participate in hazardous waste recycling programs, such as some Lowes, Home Depot, Home Hardware, Future Shop and Best Buy. They each recycle different items, so it’s best to check with your local store before making the trip.
If you don’t live in Ontario, check out this site which has links to programs in other provinces: http://epra.ca/provincial-programs
Before you go out to fill up your now empty shelves with more things, watch Annie Leonnard’s The Story of Stuff if you haven’t already seen it. It might make you think twice about what you buy http://www.storyofstuff.org/movies-all/story-of-stuff/.