If it's broken, torn, stained, ragged, horribly outdated, or missing parts, send it straight to the garbage or recycling bin. It may cost you more to dump things than to give them away once you consider carting and disposal fees. Recycling requires slightly more work, but there are several websites to help you quickly find earth-friendly ways to shed household
Your town might limit how much you can discard on a given day and designate different days for metal and nonmetal bulk trash. Call your local sanitation department to find out the rules for free curbside pickup of bulk items. Also ask about dumping privileges, free and fee-based, for the disposal of appliances, furniture, and some types of construction waste. Tips to Trash Your Trash: Transportation
If you don't have a vehicle to take your trash to the local transfer station or dump, rent a truck or call 1-800-GOT-JUNK (www.1800gotjunk.com), a nationwide service that carts away just about anything that two men can lift. They'll take your junk to a charity, recycling center, or dump. Their fee is based on volume. Tips to Trash Your Trash: Recycling
Enter your zip code at www.earth911.org or www.redo.org and you'll be directed to a list of nearby recycling centers, as well as to agencies that might be able to put your hand-me-downs to good use. Tips to Trash YourTrash: Techno Trash
Recycle floppy disks, CDs and jewel cases, and DVDs, as well as videotapes, audiotapes, and their plastic cases at www.greendisk.com. Just print a form off the site, pack everything into a box, weigh it, include a check for the processing fee and mail it to GreenDisk which will even destroy all the existing data on your media and then send you a certificate of destruction. Tips to Trash YourTrash: Textiles
The Scroungers' Center for Reusable Art Parts (www.scrap-sf.org) and Materials for the Arts (www.mfta.org) would love your carpet and textile scraps, spare parts, lighting fixtures, broken dishes, and ceramics. They make them available to artists and to schoolteachers for art projects.