Reducing Your Spring Cleaning Garbage

Photo by rustman |

It’s spring time. For some people, it means fresh air and flowers blooming. For others, it means a lot of mud and the smell of decomposing leaves. For others, it means garbage picking season has begun.

The timeless saying of “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure” will soon be in full effect as we enter the months of spring cleaning and university/college students moving. And while I am all for the reusing of materials that you find at the end of the driveway (I’ve found many a trusty bicycle through that method), I wanted to write a quick article about all the options you have before you decide to put something out in the trash.

From an environmental perspective taking the necessary steps to help others reuse your waste can make a huge difference because if no one takes it before pick up day, then it’s just another item in the landfill. So while you’re cleaning out the depths of your basement, take a look at 6 these alternatives you have to avoid putting something in the garbage can:

1) Community Recycling Centers. Most cities have them and they are a great sponge for all those things that seemed destined for the dump. Most CRCs will take things like hazardous waste (including paint thinner & pool chemicals), leaf and yard waste, plastic and paper recycling, tires, scrap metal, electronics, wood and appliances. The great part about CRCs is that they know how to dispose of everything properly. Whether its dismantling what comes into them into the reusable and disposable parts or just running a thrift store for people to pick up second hand goods, CRCs will find a way.

2) Scrap Metal Dealers. Ever seen people driving around your neighbourhood with a trailer that looks like Edward Scissorhand’s closet? Well they’re doing it for a reason. People actually do buy scrap metal and you can actually make decent money. Scrap metal dealers will take and pay for general items like appliances to specific items they’re looking for like particular metals or alloys. To find them all you need to do is pull out the phone book and call ‘em up.

3) Consignment and Second Hand Stores. If you are still operating under the pipe dream that your beanie babies collection is actually worth something, then these stores will pay you for the random junk you find in your house. They are slightly different in the way their business models work though. Consignment stores will sell your goods for you but won’t give you money upfront. They only pay you money once the store has sold your item and can at any point call you back to say they refuse to try to sell it any longer. Conversely, second hand stores will pay you money upfront for the item and then sell it on their own. So depending on whether you want the money now or later, you may want to check which one you bring your junk to.

4) Thrift Stores. You’ve heard them all. Salvation Army, Value Village, Goodwill, St. Vincent De Paul’s etc, hopefully whatever #3 doesn’t take, maybe these guys will. Depending on the store and their current stock, they will take clothes, appliances, sports equipment, furniture and even that old bowling trophy you won in the 3rd grade. However it should be noted that not all stores which sell second hand goods are charitable. All thrift stores will usually take your stuff, but what they do with the money generated depends on the store. 

5) Community Swaps. If it sounds like some sort of 1950’s meet and greet at the town hall, then that’s because it kind of is. The premise of community swaps basically runs on the age old barter system. You bring something you have like an old couch and trade away. Be forewarned though, these community swappers can be interesting folk. They’re not always bringing things like blenders or birdcages to the trading table. Some swappers will offer their homemade apple pie or massages for your goods, so the deals will vary. The best way to find community swaps is through an internet search or the Swapsity website.

6) The Internet. Rather than waiting for someone to stumble upon the junk at the end of your driveway by chance, why not put it up on the internet and find a for sure taker? Heck, they might even pay money for it! So there are the obvious websites like eBay, Kijiji and Craigslist that everyone is familiar with to get rid of stuff but there are also other sites to get dispose of your spring cleaning trash in an eco-friendly manner. Websites like FreeCycle and FullCircles are places where you can simply put up your items for free to see if someone will gladly take it. While at the end of the day some things eventually are destined for the landfill, with sites like these it never hurts to just put it at the end of that virtual driveway for all the cyber garbage pickers to take a look at and potentially snap it up.