One Man’s Trash is Another Man’s Treasure

From the Desk of Nancy Kapp, REALTOR®

Part of the struggle of moving is where to dispose of things.  As we prepare for our move, we have found all kinds of things that we no longer need or no longer work.  I have a hard time just throwing things in the trash, especially when I worry about the environment.  We found old computers, smart devices that had seen better days.  We realized some things can’t just go in the trash.  What to do with all that stuff?

And then there’s the fact we need to be good stewards of the Earth.  Most of us deeply care about the environment and think about keeping it as nice as possible for our children and our children’s children as possible. Some people say this problem is too big; that one person can’t make a difference.  I disagree.  A lot of people doing a lot of small things will add up.  It’s important to be conscientious about how we dispose of things.

Old Junk.  Perhaps you have an old mattress, sofa, computers, exercise machine, etc. that you no longer use and don’t know what to do with them.  There are several nonprofits that will take some of this stuff.  And if they won’t take them, there are companies you can pay to dispose of many items.

  • Goodwill is a for profit company that trains, employs and offers support services to the community.  It has been in business for 100 years and it’s mission has changed over the years.  In 2018 they recycled 4.7 million pounds of electronics and kept 165.8 million pounds of materials out of landfills.  It has an extensive list of items they will take.  They also have a list of items they can’t accept.  The list is available at:
  • Kidney Foundation provides information, support and service to persons afflicted with kidney and urinary tract diseases.  Furniture donation pick up is available from National Kidney Services (NKS). Residents throughout Charlotte, High Point, Winston-Salem, and the surrounding areas turn to us when they want to contribute to a worthy charitable organization by donating used furniture, clothes, and other household items.  Their website is:
  • CVAN provides safety, shelter and support for battered women.  They take donations of men, women and children’s clothing, household items, housewares, accessories such as shoes, jewelery, purses and belts, books, DVD’s, CD’s and linens.  They don’t take TV’s, large appliances, mattresses, cribs, car seats, computers, building materials and magazines.   For more information go to  
  • Salvation Army.  The Salvation Army assesses a community’s needs and then creates programs to better serve that population.  The Salvation Army also has an extensive list of items it accepts and information about donating and pick-ups.  For detailed info go to:
  • Junk King.  You’ll pay to have them remove your unwanted items.  They advertise themselves as “North America’s Greenest Junk Removal Service.”  According to their website, they recycle 60% of what they take away.  That is very appealing to me. They dispose of furniture, televisions, yard waste, appliances, mattresses, refrigerators, and a lot more.  They have an estimator you can use.  I used it to get a cost for two televisions (one large, one small), a mattress, a sofa, an exercise machine and a computer.  The estimate that came up was $288-$338.

Old Electronics.  Electronic devices are ingrained in our lives.  It’s rare look around and don’t see an electronic device — tablets, smartphones, laptops, etc. — being used somewhere.  Electronic devices cannot be thrown in the trash because they contain several toxic substances, such as mercury, cadmium and lead.  And before you recycle any electronic device you need to wipe it clean of your personal data.  Consumer reports gives detailed information on how to do this at the website:  They also have information about how to recycle your old electronics on their main page:

Batteries.  For years I saved our old alkaline batteries and then periodically took them to the Cabarrus Recycling Center.  Their hazardous waste collection is twice a month and I dutifully took my small bag of used batteries to them during one of those days.  I had a huge surprise recently.  As I returned my batteries, the gentleman at the Center asked if any of them were rechargeable batteries.  When I said, “No,” he let me know that they no longer recycle alkaline batteries — they just go to the landfill.  Alkaline batteries used to contain a small amount of mercury which is why they were considered hazardous.  They are no longer made with mercury, so they are safe to throw away in the trash.  I am still having a hard time doing this, but it’s where they will end up even if you turn them in to a recycling center.

Rechargeable batteries are still considered hazardous, so they need to be recycled, as do lithium batteries.

Recycling in Your Neighborhood. Many cities and counties have recycling programs and can give you specifics about what is acceptable to place in your recycling bin.  There are so many different plastics, it can be confusing.  Look for the symbol on the bottom of the container.  If there’s no symbol, it’s probably not recyclable.  Some plastics are more easily recycled than others, so just be aware of your community’s regulations.

blog recycling 2

Light Bulbs.  Not all light bulbs belong in the trash bin.  Some must be recycled.

  • Incandescent light bulbs.  These can be disposed of in the trash.  The tiny wires inside the light bulb make them too expensive to recycle.
  • Compact fluorescent light bulbs.  These do not belong in the trash.  They contain small amounts of mercury. While it is not dangerous to the user, they must be recycled to keep the mercury out of the environment.  These are accepted at the Cabarrus County Hazardous Waste Facility.  They have two drop-off days scheduled during each month.
  • Halogen light bulbs.  The can also be disposed of in the trash. They are also too cost prohibitive the recycle because of the tiny wires.
  • LED’s.  These do not contain any harmful materials and depending on the equipment they are incorporated in may be recyclable or may not.  The package that these LED’s come in will have the specifics for their disposal.
  • Fluorescent light bulbs.  These are similar to thee compact fluorescent light bulbs.  They also contain small amounts of mercury.  They also must be disposed of at a hazardous waste facility.

Shopping bags.  The plastic bags you get from the grocery store or other merchants are usually not acceptable to put in the recycling bins your municipality provides.  Oftentimes you will see a container at your local grocery store that accepts these bags.  This is where I recycle my bags if I haven’t reused them.  Using reusable bags will keep you from having to dispose of plastic grocery bags.  When I first began to do this, they were often left in the car as I walked into the grocery store.  It takes a little getting used to but it does get easier to remember to bring them with you with time.  I subscribe to Craftsy (now Blueprint) and found a pattern to make my own merchant bag.

blog shopping bag




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