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Discard and Recycle Responsibly

Recycle images

Do you think about how you will discard and recycle something before you bring it into your home? A while back I read that everything we buy eventually will end up in the dump.

This was an eye opener to me. I thought that if I was responsibly discarding or recycling items it didn’t matter what I bought.

We buy things on a whim, and we think that if we don’t want it later, we can donate it or recycle it. And, yes, we can. But eventually it will end up in the dump.  My takeaway from this is to really think before I buy.

Things to do to discard and recycle responsibly

Buying less is the first step to being responsible for discarding and recycling.

And buying quality goods that last for years is a better choice than buying a product that will break or wear out in a year or two.

Another way to promote responsible recycling is by buying things that have already been recycled and then when finished with the product recycle it again. This can be anything from buying clothes from a consignment shop to recycled craft paper and coffee filters.

How to recycle responsibly

When you are recycling products, do so responsibly. Read up on what can and cannot be recycled. Each area has its own list so follow those guidelines. Steer clear of “wishcycling”, which refers to an idealistic assumption that an item will get recycled just because it’s in the blue bin—when in reality its presence can contaminate the entire batch.

However, when done correctly recycling can really help. Just recycling ten plastic bottles saves enough energy to power a laptop for more than 25 hours.

Keep an eye out for discarding and recycling events for hard to dispose of items.

How to recycle electronics

Electronics are an essential part of our lives and seem to need replacing or upgrading on a regular basis. Responsibly recycling old electronics when possible, will save on toxic waste. My area has electronic recycling events at least once a year. Best Buy and some other stores offer free electronic recycling for most products nationwide.

Discarding drugs

Discarding drugs responsibly can save lives. Drugs that are no longer being used but are kept in the home can fall into the hands of small children. If you have leftover drugs from a prescription, especially if these drugs have a moderate to high potential to be abused, it is very important to remove them from your home.

Flushing drugs down the toilet can lead to contamination of water supplies and can harm wildlife. Once a year there is a National Prescription Drug Take Back Day. If this is not convenient for you, look for other permanent collection sites.

Discard and recycle responsibly

My challenge to you is to raise your awareness of what you bring into your home and how you dispose of it when you are finished with it.

As professional organizers we help our clients responsibly discard and recycle items continuously. Reach out to us if you are confused. Post your questions on our Ask the Experts at Release Repurpose Reorganize Facebook page. We want to help you.

If you want help or just some accountability in working any organizational plan join Diane Quintana and me in our Clear Space For You clutter support group.


Jonda S. Beattie, Professional Organizer owner of Time Space Organization, and co-owner of Release, Repurpose, Reorganize. She is based in the Metro-Atlanta area. As presenter, award-winning author, as well as a retired special education teacher she uses her listening skills, problem solving skills, knowledge of different learning techniques, ADHD specialty, and paper management skills to help clients tackle the toughest organizational issues. Jonda does hands on organizing and virtual organizing. For more of Jonda’s tips connect with her on Facebook.






  • I love this topic. We assume when buying something that we will keep it forever. But almost all items decay over time. Discarding it later before purchasing an item will help make a home clutter-free. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    • Yes, I feel that the more we stop and think about why we are buying something and the impact that the purchase has on our environment the better off our world will be.

  • I didn’t know there were so many recycling symbols. In our area, we don’t see all of those. I’ve always used recycled coffee filters, but I recently purchased a new coffee maker with a reusable ‘gold’ filter. So I no longer need to buy disposable filters. It’s small, but I feel good about it every morning when I make my coffee. Thank you for sharing the drug recycling resources. I recently learned about Take Back Day but was grateful also to see your ‘all year round’ help for responsibly recycling medications.

    It’s taking small steps which add up to significant results. If we all did just one thing differently, it would positively impact our planet.

  • Your closing challenge is a good one. Although I try hard to dispose of things responsibly, I’ve never given a lot of though to that phase when acquiring something new.

    I can see it getting complicated though. For example, I would choose a secondhand sweater rather than a new one, so I’m not contributing to the huge waste generated by the fashion industry. And yet, a new sweater would be far more likely to be wanted by someone else when I’m done with it than a used one, which probably won’t have much life left in it by then. Ack!

  • Seana Turner says:

    I love this whole movement toward being responsible and loving the planet. I actually just signed up to attend a session tomorrow at my local library on the topic. I figured I might learn about some local resources, and I like being on top of all the options. Thanks for sharing as we approach Earth Day!

  • Julie+Bestry says:

    This is such important information. I don’t even have recycling service where I live — no blue bins, no recycling pickup — so if I want to recycle, I have to drive it away and across town. Early in the pandemic, I found an excellent electronics recycling company that will pick up items without charge (except for old big-box TVs), and that’s a comfort to have found such a great resource for my clients.

    You’re right that we make assumptions but really need to hunker down and think more deeply. My first thought was, “Well, I don’t really buy much aside from food.” And that’s true, I rarely buy clothing and don’t buy gadgets or short-term stuff. But all of my food comes in packaging, even the fresh stuff, and all of that needs to be recycled. Thanks for the stellar reminder to be more mindful of our consumerism and how it impacts the planet.

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