Save the planet — one worn-out shoe or dried-up marker at a time. When spring cleaning dredges items that have plenty of life left, but you no longer need (Maybe those golf clubs that haven't seen the greens in a decade?) it's easy to resell items or donate them to Long Island's thrift shops. But then there's the rest: Old mattresses, stained clothing, broken electronics. This is the stuff that finds its way to the curb because that seems like the only option.
Here are responsible ways to get rid of it:
DEAD ELECTRONICS Old or nonworking electronics carry valuable parts that can be recycled rather than dumped. Stores that sell electronics are required to take back e-waste through a drop-off or a mail-in program. Best Buy officials say they are the nation’s largest retail recycler of used electronics and appliances. Most recycling is free (exceptions include large appliances, TVs and monitors) and almost any type of electronic is accepted including cellphones, CD players, cords, computers, MP3 players, tablet and vacuums. Some trade-in items may even result in a gift card or special discount. The following stores also offer free electronics recycling: Home Depot, Lowes, Target and Verizon. Many municipalities host special collections for electronics throughout the year.
If you want to try to get cash before you trash, EcoATMs located at participating Walmarts in Centereach and Middle Island as well as the Smithhaven Mall in Lake Grove will inspect used small electronics (cellphones, tablets) and make you an offer. Nearly every brand can be recycled, but the ATM will not accept anything reported stolen.
BOOKS Titles with badly ripped pages or broken bindings might be able to go out in paper recycling bins — ask your municipality. It's a go in the Town of Oyster Bay (as long as plastics and hardcovers are removed) but not so in the Town of Brookhaven, which says it doesn't accept books due to the wide range of paper types.
BATTERIES State law prohibits dumping rechargeable batteries in the trash and requires businesses that sell them to collect and recycle them at no cost to the consumer. P.C. Richards locations accepts old batteries and cellphones through its Call2Recycle program, the largest and oldest consumer battery recycling program in North America. The Town of Smithtown’s Municipal Services Facility is among local municipalities that accepts automotive and household batteries for recycling.
DEAD CELLPHONES Many charities organize collection drives to get old mobile phones to recycling centers. To do it yourself: Rip-it, Rip-It, Shred-it at 920 Lincoln Ave., in Holbrook (631-567-4207) will shred and recycle old cellphones on site for $5 during regular business hours. Mobile carrier retailers are also required to accept old units for recycling.
DAMAGED CLOTHING What should you do with stuff that has holes or shows a lot of wear?The Town of Huntington accepts textiles at the Recycling Center’s Clothing Drop Off Box. All clothing should be clean and bags should be labeled as “rags.” Unusable clothing might also be used for batting or roofing materials.
MATTRESSES Renewable Recycling is among the few outlets that accept old mattresses on Long Island. “It’s our mission to prevent mattresses from reaching the landfill,” says founder Christine Kiourtsis, because it could take up to 90 years for a mattress to decompose. The company recycles up to 90 percent of the product at their Oceanside warehouse. Mattresses can be dropped off at their East Rockaway office for a $25 fee or picked up across Long Island for $35 to $90. Visit renewablerecycling.com, to book an appointment.
MEDICATION Don't flush expired or unused prescriptions down the toilet — bring what's left to any Nassau or Suffolk county police precinct 24 hours a day.
OLD LINENS Before tossing no-longer-needed linens, think of a homeless pet in need. Almost Home in Patchogue accepts blankets, sheets and towels for drop-off during normal business hours as does Little Shelter Animal Rescue and Adoption Center in Huntington. “Right now we are in desperate need of towels and blankets,” says Little Shelter adoption counselor Jennifer Peper. The towns of Smithtown, Babylon and Brookhaven animal shelters also gladly accept blanket, sheets and towel donations.
LEFTOVER CONSTRUCTION MATERIALS Habitat for Humanity's ReStore in Ronkonkoma accepts (and resells) donated construction items and appliances, tile, doors, furniture, windows, insulation and sinks. Sales offset the cost of building homes in Suffolk County for the needy (631-521-7789, suffolkrestore.com).
WORN SNEAKERS Sneakers too well-worn to pass on to others can be dropped off at Nike outlet stores so the rubber can be converted to ball court and playground surfaces. Nike's Tanger Outlets locations in Deer Park and Riverhead will take them (nikereuseashoe.com).
USED MARKERS The Crayola's ColorCycle program invites school districts to organize collections of any brands of dried-up plastic markers — including dry erase and highlighters — that the company will pay to ship for recycling.