The Hunt: Junk Busters
The ritual of spring cleaning needs some serious rethinking. After all, winter is when we retreat indoors—and when fireside evenings with friends can lose their glow amid heaps of three-year-old New Yorkers and unwearable denim (not to mention the ancient iMac sitting sullenly in the corner). Since chucking it all into the dumpster means bad karma, you can always go the Goodwill route; for some kinds of junk, however, there are even better options. Try these smart fixes for clutter conundrums, and let the cocooning begin.
1. Lighten Your Lit Load: Reselling old books can be tempting: Harvard Book Store and Brookline Booksmith, for instance, pay 15 percent of a title’s new retail price in cash, or 20 percent in store credit. But neither has much interest in the real dead weight—hardcovers and lowbrow bestsellers—and it’s hard to bring yourself to schlep 200 pounds of books to a donation drop-off. Happily, Got Books will come straight to your door to collect any and all reading material (CDs and DVDs, too). The Lawrence-based company then sorts and redistributes its haul to the best possible recipients, whether a local elementary school or troops in Afghanistan. Better still, it recycles—not dumps—truly unsalvageable reads. 978-327-7600, gotbooks.com.
2. Save the Earth from Your PC: You probably already know you can’t simply toss out old computers, since they’re filled with toxic components. What you may not know is that a lot of e-recycling programs, especially free ones, hire firms that remove the functional parts and strip the scraps for metal, which—you guessed it—also releases toxic chemicals. For peace of mind, check the list of recyclers recommended by the Electronics TakeBack Coalition, a national alliance for responsible e-recycling. Even more convenient, Best Buy stores now accept most old laptops, monitors, and TVs. They may charge a $10 fee—but they’ll hand over a $10 gift card in exchange. computertakeback.com; bestbuy.com.
3. Undo Your Fashion Don’ts: What to do with expensive wardrobe mistakes that are too painful to relinquish to the Salvation Army? Resale boutiques can take out some of the sting, but consigning clothes involves waiting around for your payday. As an alternative, consider Davis Square’s new Buffalo Exchange, which makes reselling easy and immediate: Bring in your used clothing and jewelry for cash on the spot, or trade them for anything in the store. 238 Elm St., Somerville, 617-629-5382, buffaloexchange.com.
4. Give Furniture the Heave-Ho: That ugly dining room set, that worn-out sofa—they just sit there, defying your every attempt to dislodge them. Spare your back and spoil your conscience by calling in some muscle from local charities. Two reliables are the Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless, which runs a furniture bank to help its clients transition into places of their own, and Boomerangs, a thrift shop that benefits the AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts. Both offer free pickups for a range of home furnishings, and you’ll get a nice tax deduction to boot. 781-595-7570, mahomeless.org; 617-309-7220, shopboomerangs.org.
5. Swap Till You Drop: Clearing out your odds and ends is a great excuse to hop onto Freecycle, a chain of online forums that members use to give away items that might otherwise end up in a landfill. A recent scroll through the Boston site (run through Yahoo Groups) revealed everything from a treadmill to a pair of old beer signs. But beware: You may end up nabbing as much stuff as you shed. freecycle.org.