Recycling and reusing made easy in Silicon Valley

By Karina Rook

I am pretty darn impressed. I had an SUV full to the top with furniture packaging and I managed to make sure none of it ended up in landfill.

In Australia this would involve driving to the rubbish tip and recycling what was possible, and then having to pay for the un-recyclables to be dumped. Not a terrible solution, but heavily reliant on the local council’s services.

In our county (like a council area), I went to the waste management authority website and they suggested the local retailers who take items for re-use.

So I got rid of:

  1. Bubble wrap at the local U-Haul depot. They have an area in their store for customers to leave boxes and other packaging materials to be re-used by others. They also sell new items, but they are happy for the community to use their store as an exchange site.
  2. Styrofoam sheets and blocks at the local UPS store. They were happy for these to be stored in their back room as they will be used by customers who are shipping gifts for the holiday season.
  3. Cardboard went in a general recycling bin.

If all else fails and there’s no store who wants your stuff, just ‘craigslist‘ it. There are over 40 entries per day in craigslist for the Peninsula area in the ‘free‘ category. It is fascinating to see what people want to get rid of, a sample from today:

  • Ladies’ hair curlers
  • Motorcycle helmets
  • Computer desk
  • Fish tank
  • Coffee cans
  • X Country Skis
  • Horse manure
  • Wood chips

There’s a real following for ‘curb alerts’ where people place items on the street and then list it on craigslist. I recently got two toddler car seats for free to use for visitors who needed to use our car to get about. Moving boxes also get used many times over as there’s always people arriving and leaving in Silicon Valley.

People love recycling and re-using here, and I love it too when it’s so easy to do online.