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How to Safely Get Rid of Unwanted Household Items

How to toss or recycle household materials in need of special treatment. Note: Be sure to check your local laws before proceeding


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Local recycling centers can chip untreated lumber for use in compost, mulch, or particleboard; find a facility near you at Earth911. Treated or finished wood isn't a good candidate for recycling, though. Instead, donate it to a local reuse facility.


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Most metals can be scrapped for a small profit. Consult iScrapApp Online for local scrap-metal shops and current rates. Keep in mind that ferrous (iron-containing) metals, such as stainless steel and cast iron, fetch less than nonferrous metals, such as copper.

Mixed Debris

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First, ask your regular trash-pickup service what their bulk pickup rates are for nonhazardous, nonrecyclable waste—this is often the cheapest option. You can also try a Bagster (about $30; Bagster), which can hold up to 3,300 pounds; they'll come empty it for about about $130.

Hazardous Household Waste

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Give away solvents, paints, stains, and pesticides, or take them to a recycling center that accepts hazardous household waste. If the product is water-based, you can let it evaporate before disposing of the solids in a sealed plastic bag.


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Fridges, freezers, window AC units, and dehumidifiers may contain toxics such as mercury—so in many states, sending them to the landfill is illegal. Instead, look into local cash-back or rebate programs that include pickup; just confirm that inefficient units will be recycled, not resold.