Having just finished 4 blog posts on the limitations of recycling plastics plus one post reminding us to commit to reducing our possessions, Christmas 2020 arrived. It hasn’t been a pretty year with the pandemic, racial unrest, and polarizing political tensions. Yet, many of us at least have probably received some nice new Christmas presents. Has it made us happier? Maybe.

But maybe it’s time to extend the season of giving by giving away stuff that is more than we need. This returns me to the concept of recycling – but not just putting stuff out for municipal curbside recycling but making the extra effort of finding good homes for what we no longer need. Following are some examples from my life that might give you some ideas.

Local Thrift Store – Bathroom rugs, an extra pan, Tinker Toys, blocks. This was a satisfying give-away because the person in front of me in the thrift store was looking for toys for her grandchildren, so I gave the toys directly to her.

Nextdoor – I posted my extra carbon monoxide detector on this neighborhood trading app. It was quick and easy. Click to enlarge.

Salvation Army – TV. We bought a new TV. The old one still worked but was pretty prehistoric. Salvation Army was one of the few places that was willing to take an old-fashioned TV that didn’t play movies.

Municipal electronics collection – Once a year our city offers a one-stop collection point for old electronics. The timing worked well this year as we loaded the trunk of our car with speakers, defunct computer parts, and lots of cords.

Specialized recycling – Sometimes one just has to do research to figure out where to take hard to recycle items like old air conditioners. Because of the air conditioner refrigerants (HCFC) ACs have to be taken to specialized recyclers. I took my broken unit to Cohen recyclers in the Cincinnati area, but it cost me time and $15. On the other hand, I also had collected about 5 years of metal that doesn’t qualify for curbside recycling (broken metal parts from tools, machines, an old bike, etc.) I took these to Can Dew Recycling which paid me $5.40. So…2 environmental good deeds only cost me time and $10. Was it worth it?

Neighbor swap – The most fun and satisfying, however, is when I could match up something I had extra of (produce from our vegetable garden) with something a neighbor had that I needed. (a better watering can).

Now here’s an idea for next year. As it gets close to Christmas, I’ll take our Christmas mugs to a thrift shop. We certainly don’t need mugs that only get used once a year taking up space in my glasses cabinet. But nobody needs them now. All I have to do is remember. 🙂