Reduce, Reuse and Donation
Reduce, Reuse and Recycle: the three "R’s”. Most of us are familiar with Recycling, but what about the other two? Reduce and Reuse come before Recycle, and therefore should take priority.
If you are looking for "Reuse" options around town, take a look at this guide. It lists local businesses you can donate items to or where you can buy items second hand.
Reduce the amount of trash you produce at your house by buying groceries in bulk:
Buying in bulk can mean two different things. One meaning of bulk is purchasing large quantities of goods upfront, but bulk also means buying items loose, like beans or spices from a Co-op. Both can save you money and help reduce packaging waste that ends up in your trashcan, and ultimately the landfill.
Buying items loose from a grocery store, or from the bulk aisle, allows you to buy just what you need for a recipe. This can be a fun way to try new foods and recipes. By bringing your own container to the grocery store, you can dramatically cut down on packaging waste. Call the store first to see if they allow you to bring your own container.
Reducing the amount of packaging waste created in your home will result in less trash going into your trashcan every week. Call your hauler to see about reducing the size of your trashcan, or reducing your frequency of pickup, which will save you money.
Reusing items and finding a new purpose for them can prolong an item’s useful life and save you money. Reusing also means repairing an item so it can be used longer, or even renting or borrowing an item from a friend.
Common household items to reuse:
- Glass food jars reused for food storage and freezing liquids or soup
- Cardboard boxes reused for clothing donation or future gift giving
- Plastic bottles reused for bird feeders
- Plastic milk jugs reused for garden watering cans (poke holes in cap)
- Paper grocery bags reused for compostable seed pots
- Egg cartons reused for seed starters
- Ripped or worn out textiles reused for rags or replacement for paper towels
- Old toothbrushes reused for cleaning around the house
The “Reuse” industry is more than just second-hand clothing:
- Pre-owned vehicles
- Shoe repair
- Used sports equipment
- Party rentals
- Electronics repair and refurbishment
Items in good condition
Donating items that are in good condition, that can be used by others, is a great way to give items new life, and keep them out of the landfill. If you have household goods that you no longer want that are in good condition please consider donating to thrift stores such as Goodwill, Bridging or Salvation Army stores.
If you are looking to buy from or donate to a thrift store, Dakota County has a list of thrift stores that can help you find one close to home.
Items in poor condition
If a household item is not in good enough condition to be donated, in many cases it belongs in the garbage. However, there are some items that can be recycled in different ways.
Clothing in poor condition or with holes or stains can still be donated to thrift stores, preferably separated in a paper bag labeled “rags.” These items are then sold on the secondary market to be used in a variety of ways like insulation, dog bed stuffing or erosion control tubes. Collect your loose socks or mittens without a mate, along with quilting scraps and ripped clothing, to bring there.
Mattresses or box springs
Bridging takes gently used mattresses and box springs in good condition. Bridging helps families transition out of homelessness by providing them with home furnishings. Visit Bridging for more information. If your mattress is not in good enough condition to donate, believe it or not mattresses can be recycled! Second Chance Recycling dismantles mattresses and box springs for recycling. If you are unable to deliver your mattress for recycling they can pick it up for an additional fee.
If you are looking for donation options around town, take a look at this guide that lists local businesses you can donate items to or where you can buy items second hand.