I'm forever wondering what to do with my old cell phone, meds I no longer want, or a mattress that's not being carted away for me because I didn't buy a new one to replace it.
If the item is in good/working condition, donate it to nonprofits like Goodwill, Habitat for Humanity, the Salvation Army, or local charities; if you prefer to make a little something on them, list them on eBay, or Facebook Marketplace groups.
But, if disposal is the best/only option, here's your guide...
In most cases, water-soluble products (like bleach) can be flushed down the drain or toilet with running water, and solid cleaning products like bar soaps and scouring pads can go in the trash.
- Washers and Dryers: If they're still in good working order, donate them to a shelter or home that would likely benefit. If you're buying new laundry appliances, ask the manufacturer whether they're certified to recycle your old ones. If all else fails, call your local waste management office to see whether you can leave them on the curb, or check out Earth911.com for more options
- Refrigerators & Freezers: The first option is to have the folks from whom you purchase the new one dispose of the old...many do so for no extra fee if you've spent a certain amount; if you're not buying a new one, contact your local department of public works to schedule the removal, or use this EPA Responsible Appliance Disposal (RAD) page to find a partner program near you. The costs for this service will vary. According to the EPA, removal can cost anywhere from $10 to $50, but you may receive a rebate for disposing your appliance responsibly
- Microwaves: Some municipalities let you recycle broken microwaves as scrap metal. (Electronics recyclers will do the same for a small fee.) You could also bring it to a bulk items or appliance recycling day hosted by your county.
Some cities/counties & private residential waste companies (if you contract with one in your neighborhood) will collect your mattress if you put it out (sealed in a plastic bag to prevent bedbugs) with your regular garbage for bulk collection; if you're planning on buying a new mattress, many retailers will also haul away the old one for you; or try Bye-Bye Mattress to find a recycling center near you or hire a removal service like 1-800-GOT-JUNK?
This is a great item to donate if it's gently used and in good condition, particularly to a local homeless shelter).
To dispose of them safely, use this DEA Diversion Control Division search engine to find a certified disposal site near you (including some pharmacies). Your local law enforcement agency may also host periodic collection days; if you can't find one, you can also dispose of some medications in the trash following this FDA-suggested method:
- Mix the medicines (do not crush) with an unpalatable substance like dirt, cat litter, or old coffee grounds.
- Place the mixture in a sealed plastic bag.
- Throw the bag in the trash.
- Scratch or black out all personal information on empty pill bottles or packaging before throwing them away.
- Cell Phones: first delete all of your personal information using a factory or hard reset option (check the manufacturer's website for info on how); also remove or erase the SIM or SD card - then you can trade in, donate, or recycle your device, usually right at the store (for example, AT&T runs the charity Cell Phones for Soldiers that donates devices to troops overseas; or use this database to find e-cycling locations in your area including private recyclers, nonprofits, and other programs
- TVs: Don't toss your old TV or monitor in the trash...some old sets contain toxic materials like lead and count as hazardous waste. Best Buy, LG, Vizio, Samsung, and Sony all offer TV recycling programs (either in-store, event, drop-off site, and haul away options); you can also try contacting your local sanitation department for guidance
- Laptops and Computers: Check out Dell Reconnect, World Computer Exchange, and eBay for Charity if you're interested in donating your device...and just like TVs, it's important to recycle these responsibly, so get in touch with the manufacturer or retailer to see if they'll help out.
Some states and jurisdictions may require recycling light bulbs, so check your local laws before tossing these in the trash. As bulbs often break when they're thrown away, they can release mercury into the environment, so again, Earth911.com can provide info on how to safely dispose of these and other hazardous items like paint and pesticides).
More pods are being manufactured to be easily placed in your regular recycyling (made of plastics)...but those made of aluminum can't be so here's some options...
- Nespresso offers capsule recycling at more than 122,000 places around the world. Visit any Nespresso boutique or partner store (including Sur La Table and Williams-Sonoma) or pick up a free pod-recycling bag online that comes with a prepaid UPS shipping label
- for K-Cups, only a few varieties right now (including the Green Mountain kind) can get recycled; check for a #5 recycling sign on the bottom, remove the foil lid and throw that out along with the grounds, then recycle the empty cup.
Alkaline batteries can safely go in the trash everywhere except California, according to Duracell; for auto batteries check with your mechanic or dealer for best methods; for other kinds of batteries (or for more eco-friendly disposal), you can also look up nearby recycling sites on Call2Recycle and Earth911.com.
You have been officially alerted