Sunday, Nov. 15, is America Recycles Day, and we’re celebrating 1) with a guilt trip and 2) a list of all the places to dump your stuff, other than a landfill. First, the guilt: There is an island of garbage twice the size of Texas floating around the Pacific. Do you want to add to this mess? We didn’t think so.
The city-run NYC Stuff Exchange offers a comprehensive directory, searchable by borough, for where to donate or sell nearly anything. The site is organized into 17 categories from your old beat up car to your child’s once cherished game of Battleship. NYC WasteLe$$ also has some handy tips for getting rid of your unwanted stuff. Here are ours:
General Goods – Clothing, Housewares, Toys, and Sporting Goods
Goodwill and Salvation Army aren’t the only charities accepting donations. You can put your old goods into specific hands: such as Materials for the Arts, an organization dedicated to helping artists realize their visions and providing students with a richer educational experience, or Housing Works, a non-profit committed to ending the twin crises of AIDS and homelessness.
According to NYC Stuff Exchange, there are 29 thrift stores in Brooklyn listed as accepting general donations, click here to find one closest to you. You can head over to Williamsburg for a Swap-O-Rama event, a chance to shed unwanted threads and walk away with your hands full. Old linens are always appreciated as pet bedding in animal shelters, even if they’re stained or ripped. And if your budget is tight, consider a stoop sale as a profitable way to give your stuff a new home and meet some neighbors.
Other options for keeping your stuff from the trash heap include the obvious web stand-by, Craig’s List, as well as Brooklyn FreeCycle and eBay. For a more targeted approach, you might be surprised by NYC Stuff Exchange’s extensive list of item-specific sites for selling and trading goods.
Furniture and metal appliances—such as washing machines, metal filing cabinets, box springs, or water heaters—can be collected with your recyclables, but only put them out on the day the recycling is picked up. The Department of Sanitation will collect up to six bulk items from one address. It can also go out with the garbage on collection day, but check the requirements for bulky trash.
But you can easily avoid the landfill. College students’ and broke artists’ apartments are filled with second-hand gems, so consider giving your old furniture a new home by donating it or selling it on the web. Bushwick-based Partnership for the Homeless — Furnish a Future accepts furniture donations, supplying donated household items to families leaving the streets or shelter system for new homes. Tools for Schools in bay Ridge accepts computers, and office furniture and supplies for redistribution to NYC nonprofit organizations and public schools.
You can donate your excess fixtures, lumber, and paint to Brooklyn Height’s Habitat for Humanity office. Call in advance for their current wish list of materials. AAM Containers in Williamsburg and Menna Container & Drum Inc. in Greenpoint are options for recycling any steel, plastic, or fiberglass drums used in the building process. Green builders, such as EcoBrooklyn, are another possibility for an excess of usable supplies.
Hazardous Materials and Non-Recyclables
For non-recyclables, hazardous materials in particular, The NYC Department of Sanitation operates Self Help Special Waste Drop-Off Sites for recycling or proper disposal of batteries (household & auto), fluorescent bulbs, latex paint, mercury-filled thermostats and thermometers, motor oil and filters, transmission fluid, and tires. Brooklyn’s Drop Off sire is on Bay 41st Street and Gravesend Bay, south of the Belt Parkway (adjacent to the DSNY Brooklyn 11 garage).
Most major electronic manufacturers such as Apple, Canon, Dell, IBM, Sony, and Toshiba allow customers to mail-in old products through Take-Back programs. You can also return products for recycling to many retail shops. Best Buy, for example, accepts up to two household items per day and offers a haul-away program for large appliances. In some cases, like at Costco, you can even receive store credit for the appraised value of your recycled item. Cell phones are particularly easy to dispose, as any wireless telephone service provider that sells phones must allow returns at no cost.
Many popular electronics—computers, cell phones, MP3 Players, and so forth—can be sold or given away for reuse and material exchange through sites like: BuyMyTronics.com, CollectiveGood, Gazelle, and MyBoneYard. Though budget cuts forced the city’s Department of Sanitation to end their four-year run of Electronic Recycling & Clothing Donation Events, other organizations, particularly the Lower East Side Ecology Center, still put on events each year. The DSNY does, however, offer a list of electronic recyclers and dismantlers that do business in New York State. Sunset Park-based Curb Recycling, Inc. is the only Brooklyn recycler on the list, and the company offers free relinquishment and drop-off of goods.
Hopefully you’ve switched to CFLs and if so there are no laws against disposing of it in the trash, but double bag it as a courtesy to sanitation workers. They can also be taken to Special Waste Drop-Off Sites for recycling or at any Home Depot or IKEA.
Worn out tires can be some of the ugliest pollutants to a city. When buying new tires, businesses are required to take back tires similar to those they sell. You can recycle up to the same number of tires you buy new, the fee is already included in the cost of the new tire. Residents can also drop off up to four car tires at any NYC Department of Sanitation garage between 8 am and 4 pm, Monday through Saturday. Check here for a garage near you.
Toner and Ink Cartridges
You can recycle your toner and ink cartridges at any Staples location. 3R Living in Park Slope also accepts toner and ink cartridges, along with batteries, cell phones, CDs and their cases, hand-held electronics, and crayons.
Pressurized Gas Tanks
Pressurized tanks like barbecue propane tanks and fire extinguishers could explode when compressed in a truck, so they can never go out with the trash. In most cases, you can exchange your empty tank at the retail store when purchasing a new one. If the store refuses, contact another retailer, a welding supply company, or metal dealer for possible disposal.
Car batteries are composed of nearly 50 percent lead, making it illegal in New York State to discard them to the dump. They can be recycled, and are accepted at any service station, auto supply store, or NYC Department of Sanitation Special Waste Drop-Off Site. When buying new, get a sealed gel-cell battery to prevent harmful toxins from leaking if the battery is cracked. You’ll also save on a $5 surcharge if you return an old battery when purchasing a new one.
Your plan of action depends on the type; alkaline batteries aren’t hazardous and can be tossed, button batteries (in watches, calculators, etc) can often be returned to watch repair shops, camera shops, and so forth, but rechargeable batteries are illegal to throw away in New York as of December 2006. Retail stores are once again the easiest solution. Any store selling rechargeable batteries is required to accept the return of up to ten batteries of the same shape and size as they sell without purchase. Visit Call2Recycle for your nearest drop off location.