With spring cleaning long past, yard sales dwindling and more clutter due to hit homes by the end of the year (Ho, Ho, Ho!), clearing things out before fall colors — and winter shopping — is a necessary evil.
Most homes sport a pile or two of items hard to dispose of — heaps of dated magazines and old phone books, broken appliances, an old sink, half-used chemicals and unwanted gifts. Ironically, getting rid of clutter can be harder than acquiring it. Too often used during spring cleaning, a landfill should be a last resort.
Yard sale rejects and otherwise usable items can be posted on websites geared to reducing waste in landfills and re-honing usable items.
Freecycle.org offers free membership and web space to post items to give away. Freecycle moderator Sheri Barnes says the growing list of items offered on the local Freecycle group never ceases to amaze her. For her part, the Sams Valley woman has "freecycled" everything from Altoid tins to a 600-gallon water tank. Common items include packing peanuts, clothing, gardening supplies and furniture.
"Freecycle is one of those things where you don't necessarily need it, but you don't want to throw it away because somebody could use it," Barnes says. "For every person with something they can't use, there are several people who could put it to good use."
For items that could bring in a few bucks — perhaps to buy more storage bins — local newspapers offer categories ranging from furniture to sports gear and appliances for sale.
If you don't think it's worth the hassle of posting items online — for free or otherwise — consider donating household goods and clothes to a local charity. As an added bonus, most facilities will provide a tax receipt and possible pick-up service upon request.
For clothes and shoes, local shelters can always use warm coats and shoes, especially during winter months.
For books collecting dust and unlikely to be read again, Medford mom Sara Rooso suggests donating to the Friends of the Medford Library for sale in its shop.
"The money goes to help the library, which we obviously need," says the mom.
"You can let the kids help you clean out the books and tell them how the books will help raise money for the libraries."
An alternative for kids' books is the Santos Community Center in Medford, where volunteers read to children and offer a weekly book swap.
Large appliances can be salvaged at a handful of locations in the Rogue Valley. Most places charge a nominal disposal fee.
American Appliance Recyclers accepts any appliance, including washers, dryers, stoves and dishwashers (no charge), refrigerators and freezers ($20 each) and microwaves and water heaters ($10 each). Unwanted computer disposal ranges in price from $2 for a keyboard to $20 for a complete setup.
To dispose of specific items, check online or look in the Yellow Pages. When in doubt, contact a place that sells the materials new and ask for disposal advice.
Scrap metal, from old sinks and brass faucets to aluminum siding, can be sold to metal recycling services. Prices begin around $40 per ton for lightweight metals. Locally, Schnitzer Steel accepts aluminum, stainless, copper and brass.
For partially used containers of chemicals, cleaners and automobile fluids, wait for the annual Hazardous Waste Drop-Off Days, each May, hosted by Rogue Disposal at the county fairgrounds. For details, visit, www.roguedisposal.com.
Stuck with leftover sinks, doors or fixtures? Habitat for Humanity's Medford warehouse is a non-profit retail center with new and used building supplies. Open Wednesday through Saturday, Habitat issues a tax receipt for donated items, and the items go to build homes for low-income families. Some for-profit businesses that sell used building supplies may also pay you for the items.
Finally, food that's crowding the pantry shelves and unlikely to be eaten should be put to use. Unopened, non-perishable food can go to any of several dozen food banks, shelters or missions in the Rogue Valley. Most accept donations throughout the year.
So if you've wanted to clean up your house, garage or backyard, but just didn't know what to do with the stuff, now you know how to get rid of it in a more earth-friendly way that may help less fortunate people in the process. That's a win-win for everyone.