I always find that the new year is the perfect time for reflection and new beginnings. In fact, it was on New Year’s Day 2009 that I decided to make a gift to the planet by challenging myself to find one new way each day for 30 days to make my cat’s lifestyle just a little bit greener.
The kick-off of my 30-Day Green Cat Challenge really helped to launch GreenLittleCat.com and promote greener living for cats and cat lovers around the world. This year, I wanted to share some of my favourite ways to help you de-clutter your home and welcome 2012 with fresh and open energy.
While this list for where to give away and recycle stuff is mainly geared for us humans, I hope you’ll find it useful for starting your new year off on a green foot.
Reduce, Reuse and Recycle Your Stuff Here:
1. Cat Food
- If the food hasn’t expired and hasn’t been opened, do a web search for a “pet food bank” in your town or city. They’ve been popping up all over the country in recent years as people ride out the economic shifts.
- If you have a large bag of opened dry food that your cat won’t eat, that’s a little trickier to give away. Many people would recommend not giving it away, but there are people out there who don’t have the money to feed their cats and would welcome the food. If you do decide to give the food away, there always seems to be someone on Craigslist who will gladly take just about anything you have to give away.
2. Old Towels and Blankets
- Contact your local animal shelter to donate your old towels and blankets. They’ll use them as bedding or to wrap animals up to keep them warm and comfortable.
3. Where to Donate Used Books
- Some libraries will accept used books.
- If you have paperbacks, try posting them on PaperBackSwap.com. It’s like a giant online book swap meet.
- Gently used books for young children are welcomed by Project Night Night, which gives books, blankets and stuffed animals to homeless children.
- Women’s shelters that support families are also a good place to donate books for kids of all ages.
4. Old DVDs and CDs
- SwapaCD and SwapaDVD are sister sites for PaperBackSwap.com.
- Children’s DVDs can be donated to Kid Flicks. They’ll take the DVDs that your kids have outgrown to creates movie libraries for children’s hospitals and pediatric wards across the U.S.
5. Stuffed Animals
- While we’re on the topic of kid’s stuff, gently used stuffed animals can be given to Stuffed Animals For Emergencies (SAFE). SAFE gives your stuffed animals to children during emergency situations such as fires, illness, accidents, neglect, abuse, homelessness and even weather emergencies. They’ll take your baby blankets too.
- A local women’s shelter may also be a good place to donate stuffed animals. I was making a donation of household goods and had a bag of stuffed animals in my car to drop off at Goodwill. When the women’s shelter worker saw the stuffed animals, she was so happy to scoop them up and told me that they give them to children and to rape victims to help comfort them.
6. Where to Recycle Cell Phones and MP3 Players
- Target stores have recycling stations for used cell phones and MP3 players. They’ll also take your inkjet cartridges, but I like taking mine to Staples (see below).
7. What to Do With Your Used Inkjet Cartridges
- Inkjet cartridges are worth money to you if you take them to your local Staples store. When you join their rewards program, Staples will give you 2 Staples rewards dollars for each inkjet cartridge you bring in (up to a maximum of 10 cartridges a month).
8. Where to Recycle Used Brita Filters and Number 5 Plastics
- Look for a “Preserve” recycling bin at any Whole Foods to drop off your Brita filters and number 5 plastics.
9. Produce from Your Backyard
- When your friends and relatives start crying, “No, thank you” to that second bag of tomatoes, check out AmpleHarvest.org to get connected with a local food bank in search of fresh produce.
- In Northern California, if you’ve got fruit trees, Village Harvest will send out volunteers to pick your trees and will donate any excess fruit that you don’t want.
10. Office and School Supplies
- iLoveSchools.com has a donor board where you can post books, computers and home office equipment, electronics, and office supplies. Teachers login to the site and check the board for stuff they can use in their classrooms.
11. Odds and Ends
- Freecycle.org is my go to place for giving away stuff I no longer need (e.g. IKEA lamps, extra tealight candles, tire chains, etc.). They have local chapters so you know that people aren’t driving 50 miles to pick up your 5 issues of Bicycling magazine.
- Here are a couple Freecycle tips: First, give your stuff to the person who writes a friendly and articulate email to you, not the first person to say, “I want it.” The polite people are the ones who show up on time to pick up your stuff. Second, leave the stuff outside of your door with a note on it so that people can pick it up at their convenience (and yours too).
- If no one on Freecycle wants your cat drinking fountain, there’s always Craigslist!
So, there you have my best recycling, give away and donation suggestions for 2012. You’re ready to start your clean sweep for the new year!
Wishing you a happy, healthy and abundant 2012,
Holly and Furball