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Spring Cleaning? Repurpose Unwanted Items Locally

By Lindsey Wray

Whether you’re spring cleaning or applying the popular KonMari method to your home, think twice before overloading your trash can with unwanted items. Arlington offers lots of options for disposing of things that no longer spark joy, and they have nothing to do with the landfill.

Marie Kondo’s popular KonMari tidying process suggests keeping only items that “spark joy,” as described in her book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, and in the recent Netflix series, Tidying Up with Marie Kondo.

But just because items don’t work for you anymore doesn’t mean you can’t find another use for them somewhere else.

Here’s how:

Electronics

Dispose of cellphones, computers, printers, keyboards, etc., at Arlington’s Environmental Collection and Recycling Event (E-CARE), held twice each year. The next E-CARE is this coming Saturday, May 4, 8:30 a.m.-3 p.m. at 1425 N. Quincy Street. The event is free, but there is a charge to recycle televisions and computer monitors.

Clothing

Rather than taking all of your excess closet items to the Goodwill, consider finding other homes for them — and maybe making a bit of cash in the process. List newer items on Nextdoor to keep them right in your neighborhood, eliminating the cost and environmental impact of shipping. Not up for the hassle of managing the sales yourself? Get a free Clean-Out Kit from the virtual thrift store ThredUp, and mail in gently used items for resale or donation.

Books

If your bookshelves are buckling, find a few books you’re ready to part with and drop them at an Arlington library. Libraries also accept CDs, DVDs, and board games.

Papers

Although mixed paper (cardboard, magazines, newspapers, office paper, etc.) is collected in Arlington County’s curbside recycling program, if you’re getting rid of a lot at once, you may want to consider taking a load to a drop-off center. Find these at Quincy Park, N. Quincy Street and Washington Blvd, or Trades Center, 2700 S. Taylor Street.

If your hard-copy files from 10 years ago no longer spark joy, let Arlington shred them for you. The County offers limited paper shredding for residents on the first Saturday of each month at 4300 29th Street S. For the website details and allowable items.

Glass

Unfortunately, Arlington County is no longer recycling glass collected curbside. But your glass items can be recycled into road-paving materials if you bring them to one of two Arlington drop-off stations (and more stations may be on the way):

Household items

E-CARE accepts a myriad of other household items such as batteries, car-care products, compact fluorescent light bulbs, household cleaners, lawn and garden chemicals, and paint. They will also take small metal items, including pots, pans, tools, pipes and small appliances. They’ll even accept bicycles, though they request a small donation to cover the cost.

If you go all in on KonMari cleanup, Arlington County will accept larger items such as refrigerators, dishwashers and air conditioners. You can drop off items at 4300 29th Street S. (check hours of operation) or schedule a residential pickup.

Inert materials such as ceramic tile, concrete and sand can be dropped off on the first Saturday of each month at 4300 29th Street S.

Other

If you’re holding onto an item that’s broken, stop by a Make/Fix Anything session at Arlington Central Library to learn how to fix it. Bring anything from clothing with holes to non-working electronics for repair assistance once a month on Mondays from 4 to 7 p.m.

For items of any category, try your local Freecycle or Buy Nothing group — there are several in Arlington — to find a new home for things you can’t use anymore. You may even see something that’s perfect for your newly organized space.

Not sure what to do with something you’d like to get rid of? Search for items on Arlington County’s website to find out how to dispose of them.

Before you’ve posted your perfectly organized home photos online, make sure the items you are tossing end up in the right place. You’ll spark joy for yourself, your neighbors and the planet.

Lindsey Wray is freelance writer who lives, works and declutters in Arlington.

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