Spring clean and recycle

The time has come for spring cleaning, but don’t just trash everything because you are tired of it. Call the Salvation Army, Goodwill, the Recovery Thrift Store, the St. Agnes Thrift Store or any thrift shop and find out if they will accept the items. Find out if there is a place that will take the unwanted clothing and bundle it to send to be recycled. Set up an appointment with Clean Harbors to take your hazardous household waste.

Don’t send it to the landfill … instead, fill up the thrift stores and the recycling bins. Ask yourself, is it really trash, or is it an opportunity?

In 1990, Zhang Yin, now one of mainland China’s richest persons, started collecting wastepaper from Los Angeles and shipping it to China to make the cardboard needed by growing export industries. Her company, Nine Dragons Paper Holdings Ltd., became China’s biggest packaging maker. Zhang’s fortune placed her on Forbes list of the richest people in the world. She made the list because she saw treasure where others saw trash.
Just because you don’t want something does not mean someone else won’t want it, or have a way to use it. The poverty stricken garbage pickers in Paraguay (who salvage the garbage of the wealthy) uncovered a violin in the city dump and discovered music. Since then they began building violins, violas, even wind instruments from trash and became a small orchestra of 20 students who play instruments made from oil barrels, bottle caps and other odds and ends of unwanted materials. Via clips on YouTube they share their music with the world.

The greatest generation – those who lived through World War II – spent their childhood gathering goods for paper and metal drives and tending victory gardens. Early in life they learned the value of recycling and re-using.

In America we use disposable dishes for meals, but in Indonesia even at the food courts at the mall, customers return the trays, plates, silverware and glasses to a central collection point to be washed and sanitized for re-use. Not only do they reduce the landfill collection, they provide employment for the dishwashers.

So you have outgrown or lost interest in that outfit or shirt. Donate it to one of the thrift shops in town. What they cannot sell goes to regions of the world where just having something to wear will be most welcome. If it really is beyond repair or use, it can be shredded and recycled.

Take the books that you have and recycle them. Christian literature can be donated to Love Packages in Butler, Ill. They have already sent out 200 tons of literature this year. The program began with one man wondering what to do with the books and literature he no longer wanted. His missionary friends welcomed it. Those few packages he shipped 40 years ago have multiplied into Love Packages for which the organization accepts and sorts literature and then fills huge shipping containers that it exports every week.

Or, take books to the thrift stores, donate them to book dealers, sell or swap them online at Amazon.com or Abebooks.com.

Green Marketing LLC decided to bridge the gap between recycling and unused book donations at Goodwill of Columbus, Ohio. Previously, books that could not be sold made their way to the landfills. The company found a way to turn old, worn out pages into pulp, which can then be turned into consumer goods like paper towels, tissue and toilet paper through their sister company book-destruction.com. The books are stockpiled at the distribution center. When they have a truckload, Green Marketing LLC purchases the books by the ton. The company hopes to collect around 40,000 pounds of unused books a month, which can then be sold anywhere from $15 to $80 a ton, according to the article.

Just as books become outdated and no longer wanted, so do the technology and tools we use every day. Check the Internet for a system that recycles the hardware before adding it to the landfill. Many urban areas insist that individual households recycle glass, metal, paper and plastic.

The average person has eight, one-use plastic items in their hands every day. Think you are an exception? I did until I realized I had overlooked the plastic bag holding the lettuce, the plastic fork I used at a meal because I could not find the metal fork I took to work and the condiment package.

At a yard sale in an upscale neighborhood, the woman said her husband had urged her to just toss the stuff the family did not want anymore. Many items looked brand new. All of them were items that many families on lower incomes or with restricted financial means would welcome the opportunity to purchase at yard sale prices, to find at a thrift shop or receive through Freecycle.org.

Be kind to your world, recycle.