Your Trash Just Doesn’t Disappear, Stupid! (Or How to Make Sure Useful Things Stay out of Landfills)
Please forgive my rudeness. If I heard my children speak to someone that way, there’d be some serious lecturing going on. But you’ll understand when I relay the conversation I heard between two young moms the other day at a restaurant.
Mom #1 “My garage was so jam packed with boxes of things. I didn’t even know what was in half of them. I finally go so tired of it all I just took them all out to the curb.”
Mom #2 “Isn’t it such a great feeling when the trash men just make it all disappear?”
Mom#1 “Yes, ‘poof’ and it’s all gone.”
To which I wanted to scream over to their table “Your trash just doesn’t disappear, stupid!” But I didn’t because I was raised better than that. And my son was with me. And I’m fairly gutless in situations like that. But I was screaming it in my head.
What an absolute waste. What still perfectly useful items were in those boxes that the trash men hauled away to be burried in a landfill. There’s no way of knowing, but I do know this one thing. There were many ways she could have easily found new homes for the still useful things in those boxes.
As I see it, when you’ve got something that is still useful but you aren’t using it anymore, there are three responsible ways to get rid of it. None of them involve putting it out at the curb for the fairy trash men to waive their wands and make it disappear.
Turn it Into Cash
If you’ve got stuff that’s in good condition, selling it is always an option. If you’ve got a lot of stuff, hold a yard sale. Just one thing to get rid of? Sell it on Craigslist. Put an ad up on your local coffee house bulletin board. Auction it off on eBay. There are lots of ways to turn your trash into cash.
Donate it (and Don’t Forget to Get a Receipt)
Donate your useful stuff to charities, and make sure you ask for a receipt. When April 15th rolls around you’ll have a tax write off. It’s kind of like turning your trash into cash but without actually having to take the time to place an ad or deal with the hassle of a yard sale.
Give it To Someone in Need
There is someone out there who needs something you’ve got. Send an e-mail out to your friends letting them know you are looking to get rid of whatever it is you’ve got. Or post it on Freecycle and let someone come and take it off your hands. You may not benefit financially from it this way, but you certainly wouldn’t have benefited from it financially if you’d just thrown it in the trash. Plus, it’s a fabulous feeling knowing that you were able to provide for someone’s needs.
Sure, any of these three ways of dealing with your unwanted items takes a little time and effort. But keeping them out of landfills is so important. Not only will you be saving the earth from having one more piece of trash buried inside of it, you’ll be stopping new resources from being wasted. When you give that futon away to someone who needs it instead of leaving it out at the curb for the trash men, you’ll be saving that person from buying a new futon. Resources are saved.
Our trash really doesn’t just disappear. It goes somewhere. If it’s truly not trash, but a useful item, make sure it makes it gets into the hands of someone who can use it and not into the landfill.
>> Related: 10-Step Guide to Buying a Used Laptop That Works
Image courtesy of flickr.