Is there an all-encompassing how-to guide to disposing of different household items?

I just moved back from Taiwan a couple of weeks ago, and to make room for my wife and I at my parents house before we move somewhere else to start graduate school, I’ve been cleaning out a bunch of old stuff that was clogging space in the closet and under the bed. I got to thinking, is there a website that catalogs the best means of disposal for all things by the material and their function. Where does one take old distortion pedals for an electric guitar? is there a better place to put old shoes (not even in Goodwill condition) than in the trash? Is there anyone who could use several years worth of RollingStone magazines? An old, broken MP3 player. Stuff like that.

It seems like it would be a really good idea to get all this information together on one site and have forums for people who want to dispose of certain things and even people who collect certain things (or artists who could use some of the things we throw away).

(NOTE: please don’t address the specific items above, I’m just giving examples.)

I suppose if simply throwing the stuff away makes you feel guilty, you could always post an ad on craigslist saying you have free junk. Who knows if you’ll make an eclectic collector’s day…

Personally, I’m still wondering how I can safely dispose of old kitchen knives without creating a safety hazard for the waste disposal workers.

I’ve given away all kinds of stuff to thrift stores - Goodwill, Salvation Army. They will also come and pick up furniture in good condition. (But PLEASE don’t give them broken things or unusable trash - some stuff just has to be thrown away.)… I would insert the knife blades in thick cardboard, bind them all together, and wrap them up in a newspaper bundle before putting into the garbage… Our county has a recycling website. Dozens of items can be passed on to organizations but dozens more can only be thrown away.

While I appreciate the suggestions of places where I could take these items, I’m actually curious as to whether or not there has been any effort to compile an all-encompassing guide to alternatives to disposing of household items in the trashcan.

It would seem that creating a database searchable by item and by material would be really helpful. Say you had a pair of shoes to throw away, you could look up “shoes” or you could look at what the shoes are made of and look up “suede,” and the site would list the best ways of disposing of the items or people/organizations who might want the material and might even pay money for it.

Does that exist?

Here in Minneapolis, the city garbage department maintains an online list that “helps you determine the best way to dispose of everyday things.”


I’d imagine other localities have similar lists.
So if you just had a real answer in your location field, instead of a dumb joke, we could give you more specific help.

Wow. My apologies for my stupid location, Mr./Mrs. Bonham.

Again, my location is irrelevant. I’m not asking for specific help. I’m asking if this sort (or these sorts) of sites exist. So, it doesn’t help to know that they have something of the sort in say Taipei, Taiwan.

If it helps, I’m in Charleston, SC. But I don’t change my location because, well, it always changes. Thanks for reminding me to change it.

There are websites that deal with the free exchange of unwanted items. There are sites with forums the give advice on proper disposal and recycling.

But I don’t think there’s any such thing as a one-stop site for advice on any and everything - maybe you’ve stumbled on an opportunity…

However, the correct procedures for disposal of unwanted things will vary by region - it would be very easy for someone to get inappropriate advice. Things change too, so keeping it up to date would be important.

And I’m not sure about the economics of running such a site - in order to be comprehensive, it would (if based on user contributions) need to be popular with contributors - are there even enough interested contributors to make it work? (not to mention that popularity is expensive, in a website - so it would have to make money to stay afloat).

Yes, information of this sort exists, and no, there will not be any general guides, because the way to dispose of them varies from city to city. In Montreal it even varies from borough to borough.

Aside from finding people who want to reuse the stuff (which I assume you are really trying to do), I doubt you will get any better advice than to look for your local municipality’s web page, as alluded to.

My reasoning is this: our own municipality has such a web page, titled “How do I get rid of it,” which has very specific instructions for each kind of item.
For example, we can put sheetrock out for the garbage pickup if it is cut in 3’ lengths and tied up in bundles. We can get rid of old batteries, oil, tree trunks, leaves at a special “ecological facility”. In order to get rid of “white goods” such as refrigerators, there is a number to call to schedule a pickup.

There are too many specifics about our town’s own way to do this, so it’s hard to say “Here is how you get rid of old paint anywhere in the world”

Of course, as I said, I feel you are trying to give all of your stuff to new owners.
I don’t even waste my time with that anymore. I have a sister-in-law who keeps stuff until she can guarantee someone else has properly adopted it, with strings attached (she will likely ask you about it five years later). Consequently, her house is jammed full of stuff that is ages old.

I prefer the simple approach: we live on a major street, so if I put out something that looks remotely cool, it doesn’t stay at the curb long until someone picks it up. Good stuff rarely stays until the trash truck comes by.

There’s something so refreshing knowing that the junk that was cluttering my life has disappeared, and I can forget it ever existed. Mind you, this is my own opinion.

Check out the article How to Recycle Anything from Real Simple magazine. But note that often you will be advised to check with your local authorities.