Green tip for week #8 — Week of June 22, 2008

Give away; don’t throw away

This week’s green living tip is a an easy option for reducing your impact on the environment. In most developed countries, when we grow tired of something, there is a ready supply of replacement goods available. What do we do with the old item? For many people, the idea is “out with the old, in with the new.”

Unfortunately, many perfectly good clothes, pieces of furniture, household goods, and much more make it into landfills because people don’t take time to consider the net effect of taking a perfectly good item and throwing it into the trash. Once it’s in the garbage, it’s forgotten; then, once the trash collector comes, it simply becomes yesterday’s news.

That mentality doesn’t consider the impact of the manufacturing/transportation/distribution process of the item originally, or how wasteful it is to turn around and have it transported to a landfill, where it ultimately takes up precious space and becomes literal waste.

What’s the alternative? Find new uses for your old items. Just because you don’t like a chair anymore doesn’t mean it’s garbage. Many great pieces of furniture, clothes, household items and more can be put to good use for a long time past their original owners grow tired of them. Furniture items particularly can often be refinished, recovered, or repurposed. Clothes can often be used by someone less concerned about whether they were last season’s fashion, or by someone who may need what you no longer want.

Be sure to consider donating your unwanted items to a favorite charity, church, shelter or community group. There are always organizations such as Goodwill.org that serve many purposes (jobs, affordable shopping, repurposing items) which can be an excellent place to donate to. There are also networks such as Freecycle.org that help those who are looking for used items find them, and for their owners to find people who will make use of what might otherwise get discarded.

Be sure to think, before you throw. One person’s trash may be the next person’s treasure. With so much environmental impact caused by waste and so many more sensible options, it should be easy to give away, instead of throwing away.

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