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Out With the Old – But How?

As the New Year begins, many people take a look at making a fresh start.  Cleaning, organizing, and exercising are all popular topics during January.  As you start cleaning the “hot spots” in your home, you might come across items that you don’t know how to dispose of responsibly.  We’d like to offer some suggestions!

Gift Cards

Sometimes you just don’t shop at the store or eat at the restaurant that your well-meaning relative purchased a gift card for you to enjoy.  Maybe you typically do shop there, but weren’t able to find anything you like this time, so you put the card in that desk drawer that seems to be a bottomless pit of odds and ends. What to do?

Plastic Jungle is a company that buys gift cards that have a minimum balance of $25 for a percentage of the face value.  Gift cards that are in higher demand receive a higher percentage – at the time of this writing, they were offering 95.55% for Target gift cards, but 63% for Zumiez (skate and snow gear). GiftCardRescue offers cash or Amazon gift cards in exchange for your gift card.  Let go of the guilt and trade in those unused cards!

For gift cards that I’ve used but have a small remaining balance, I typically write the balance in permanent marker on the front of the card and keep it in my wallet so it’s there to use whenever I visit that retailer again.  If I kept it in that junk drawer, it would never get used!

Cell Phones

A recent Survey by Lookout, a leader in mobile security, found that 62% of people have at least one old smartphone.  When asked why, many respond that that simply don’t know what to do with their old phone.  By donating your old cell phone, you clear up that space in your desk, and keep it out of a landfill! Here are a few organizations that make good use of unused cell phones:

Computers and Computer Equipment

Again, while researching for this post, I stumbled upon some interesting information.  There is a new law in Pennsylvania – “Beginning Jan. 24, 2013, desktop computers, laptop computers, computer monitors, computer peripherals, televisions, and any components of such devices may no longer be disposed in Pennsylvania with municipal waste.”

Thankfully, the Department of Environmental Protection provides a list by county of facilities that accept household electronic waste.

Unused Eye Glasses

Many people have outdated eyeglass prescriptions lying around the house and don’t want to throw them away, but don’t know what else to do with them.  OneSight is an organization that collects eyewear at many chain retailers such as Pearle Vision, LensCrafters and Target Optical.  Their locator identifies the collection sites nearest to you. Give new life to eyeglasses by recycling them for use by those in need.

Old Batteries

I’m talking about the usual suspects – AA, AAA, C, D – the everyday batteries we use in household electronics. Did you know that you aren’t supposed to throw them in the trash? This battery fact sheet explains some reasons why – first and foremost, the metals contained in batteries contaminate the environment. Personally, I know my grandmother has a bucket of old batteries because she doesn’t know what she’s supposed to do with them! While researching for this post, I discovered that keeping old batteries together like that is dangerous – there could be some charge left in them, and if they bang together, they could ignite!  Scary stuff.

You might be surprised to learn that some of those old batteries could still have juice left in them.  Some electronics, such as digital cameras, are high-drain devices.  You can take those batteries and use them in low-drain items such as remote controls or clocks.

Consider making the switch to rechargeable batteries.  The extra cost upfront is more than recovered by the longevity of these batteries.  Furthermore, I found that it is easy to find places that recycle rechargeable batteries.  Many stores such as Lowes, Staples, and Home Depot have collection boxes for disposing of rechargeable batteries.

It was much more challenging to find out how to properly dispose of those single-use, non-rechargeable batteries, most commonly alkaline.  I think I’ve found the answer!  Visit the Earth 911 Recycling Directory and type “single-use batteries” in the search box and search for disposal sites in your area. Or, you can recycle them by mail thanks to Battery Solutions.  I’ll be getting rid of those batteries for my grandmother!

What items do you have taking up space that you need to figure out a solution for disposal?

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5 Responses to Out With the Old – But How?

  1. Dan Maher says:

    Reference unused eyeglasses: The Lions Club, America’s largest civic organization has as it’s number one focus, vision enchancement and repair. In addition to sponsoring Leaders Dog for the Blind, paying for the xcost of vison exams for the needy, we collect used eyeglasses throughout local communites. Drop boxes are found and recognizable in libraries, churches, local vision centers etc. We distribute these glasses not only in America but thoroughout the 3rd world countries.

  2. Annette V Andree says:

    Another place to donate unwanted eye glasses, cases in good condition and those little screw drivers repair kits is the local Lions Club.

  3. Tess says:

    With unused eyeglasses, your local Lions Club will also collect them.

  4. C Martin says:

    Well timed! I just pulled a bunch of cards out of my wallet to figure out what to do with them. This post nudged me to finally find out what the balances are and DO something with them!

  5. Bonnie Eberly says:

    Some organizations collect recyclables. Many Lions Clubs collect eye glasses. Ephrata Lions have an old mail box at Martins to collect eyeglasses. Many eye doctors have boxes for old eye glasses in their office waiting rooms.

    Ephrata Lions also recycle old cell phones and blackberries. They can also be placed in the mail box that the Ephrata Lions have at Martins.

    I also believe that the Susquehanna Association for the Blind and Vision Impaired (SABVI) is still collecting old glasses, and computers, etc. for recycling. This is on North Queen Street in Lancaster.

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