Recycle & Reuse

— Written By N.C. Cooperative Extension image

So you’re looking for a new washer and dryer. You plan on getting the best Energy Star certified appliances that promise the most minimal use of energy. But what about those older models still sitting in the your laundry room? What will you do with the two that have been so good to you for the past 15 years?

What if someone told you about recycling programs that could help keep unnecessary items out of landfills and reuse the appliances for various other things? Well some might not care about the mounds of trash piling up across our nation, but I am betting that most of you do care about what happens to the planet.

That’s where I come in. I have found out through much research that there are a ton of options to recycle and reuse not only appliances, but pretty much anything you can think of. I mean if someone told you that you could recycle hair, you would probably look quizzically, but the truth is, hair and a lot more can be recycled.

Now, obviously you can recycle paper, cardboard, plastic bottles, metal cans, and glass of all sorts. These are things that can go in that small bin outside of your house and in those large containers at the grocery store, landfill and so forth. Remember, there are a number of things that you aren’t supposed to put in there though.  Plastic bags, electronics, styrofoam, batteries, and, clearly, those larger appliances. So where do you put them?

NOT THE TRASHCAN!!! These products, and many more, can be taken to various locations where people can actually reuse the material for other purposes. Electronics and home appliances are some of the hardest items to deal with when ridding your home of such products. The main problem is that most are bulky and many people don’t have a vehicle accessible to take them where they need to go.


The majority of us take kitchen appliances, clothes washers, and dryers to the landfill, where they sit and rust. They will also expel harmful wastes into the ground. Instead, look for charities to take them off of your hands. Organizations such as the American Red Cross, Habitat for Humanity, and Goodwill are just a few. If your appliances are still in working order many charitable organizations will gladly put them to good use so call some of these groups to see if they are in need before just disposing it.

 Did you know there are recycle centers and scrap metal facilities that will simply recycle appliances? The good thing is that they will actually pay you for your old appliance. But do your research. There are only a select few that recycle large appliances. To find a local program, try Earth 911. You can go to their website and find the closest recycling center.

 Electronics are another item that people aren’t sure of where to take. Starting July 1, 2011, North Carolina adopted a new law restricting the dumping of televisions and computer equipment at local landfills, making the process even harder. But many office supply stores will recycle printers, computers, and other office devices at no cost to you. The larger chains will even take old TVs, DVD players, and VHS players at no cost. Also, if you’re trying to get rid of an old cell phone and putting it up for sale is out of the question, just take it back to your carrier. Many cellular phone carriers will gladly take them off of your hands for free.


The best advice I have for you is:  Just do some research before throwing away items. There are plenty of opportunities to recycle, it just takes a little effort.  And recycling is not only good for the environment, but it also helps slow the use of Earth’s finite resources.

 Drew is on assignment with NC State University, Department of Natural Resources to work with N.C. Cooperative Extension through September.


 The Family & Consumer Sciences is a department of North Carolina Cooperative Extension that includes prenatal to end-of-life programs.  Priorities for North Carolina citizens consist of:  Family & Parenting Education; Balancing Work & Family Workshops; Academic Success; Elder Care; Active Aging; Planning for the Future; Home Ownership & Housing Issues; Conservation & Environmental Issues; Leadership; Emergency Management and more.  Call 919-496-3344, email or visit for additional information.