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Where to Recycle Odd Items

Home > New York > Hobbies
Published April 11th 2011
Especially in a small New York apartment, stuff tends to pile up, and a yearly purge is necessary. Not sure what to do with all of those random, unwanted items like defunct cell phones and threadbare towels? Before tossing them in the garbage, look into these recycling programs for ways to green your spring cleaning.

Clothing and Textiles

According to GrowNYC, the average New Yorker trashes about 46 pounds of clothing and textiles every year. What a waste of landfill space! There are so many different ways to recycle these items that you should never have to throw out a bit of fabric again.

Clothing, bedding, towels, hats, shoes, bags, and similar itemsóno matter how threadbare they areócan be taken to several Greenmarkets around the city: 97th Street, Union Square (Mondays and Saturdays only), Grand Army Plaza, Fort Greene, McCarren Park, Inwood, Tompkins Square, and Jackson Heights. The GrowNYC textile recycling program will sort the materials and send them off to be resold or made into items like cleaning rags or insulation.

If the clothing is good enough to wear, another easy option is to drop it off at a thrift store in your neighborhood. Someone who's on a tight budget will be able to make use of an outfit that you probably won't wear again. Or, if you live in a large apartment building, consider contacting Wearable Collections to set up a regular clothing collection spot for your residence.

To get rid of formal and party dresses, keep your eye out for the annual WGirls prom dress drive to help a local high school girl have a very special night.

For those who love shopping and fashion and want to get something wearable out of the deal, look for a clothing swap in your area. There are several Meetup groups, organizations like the Thrift Collective, and events like the Clothing Swap America Tour.


Most electronics contain dangerous chemicals that should not go directly into the garbage. Here's what to do when your devices no longer work, or you've upgraded to the latest technology.

Rechargeable batteries and cell phones can be brought to 14 different Greenmarkets around the city. Old cell phones can also be dropped off at Staples, Best Buy, or almost any store that sells cell phones. Remember to bring the chargers and cords along too.

If you are trying to get rid of a computer, scanner, printer, or fax machine that is less than four years old, bring it to Materials for the Arts. It will be donated to a classroom, a nonprofit arts or cultural institution, or a government agency.

Almost any used computer equipment in any condition can also be brought to Goodwill. Your electronics will be sold (either as a whole or as parts) and the proceeds will go towards the nonprofit organization's mission.

Household Items

Many household items contain harmful chemicals and should never be thrown into the trash. Burnt out CFL light bulbs can be brought to Home Depot or Ikea. Latex paint, thermometers containing mercury, and CFL light bulbs can all be taken to the NYC Department of Sanitation Household Special Waste Drop-Off Sites.

Some of the stuff you have lying around might be useful to artists, landlords, teachers, or other local people. Materials for the Arts collects office supplies, decorating supplies, chairs, and other miscellaneous items, and gives them to nonprofit arts organizations and educators who can use them. Build It Green! NYC takes unwanted building materials, stray parts, furniture, lamps, and other household goods and resells them to landlords, artists, and anyone who wants them.

To get rid of working items that you just don't want anymore, like kitchen appliances, books, or decorations, look for the next Stop 'N' Swap event in your borough. You could even score some free items that you need for your apartment. If you can't make it to your local Stop 'N' Swap event, just drop them off at your nearest thrift store instead.

For any other items that you're not sure how to get rid of, you can always check NYC Stuff Exchange or for guidance. Good luck with your spring cleaning!
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