Ways to recycle practically anything at all

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You’re inspired to clean out your cluttered garage, basement and closets. But what should you do with your out-of-date clothes, ancient tube TVs and old mattresses?

Long gone are the days of dumping everything into the trash and out on the curb. Here’s a rundown from Consumer Reports magazine of some of the most creative ways to get rid of unwanted items:

Electronics. Log on to www.ecoqsuid.com to check out options for reselling or recycling old gadgets. Or try selling on eBay — somebody, somewhere might be looking for an older model or its components.

Best Buy also recycles gear. The stores accept computers, TVs and more, even when items were not purchased there. Office Depot and Staples also recycle.

Toys and stuffed animals. After the kids (or grandkids) have grown, many of us have bags full of toys. Before donating or selling items, go to www.recalls.gov to make sure they have not been recalled in recent years. Standards are tougher now than even a few years ago.

For like-new stuffed animals, donate to Beanies for Baghdad, an organization that sends items to armed service units in war-torn areas and they distribute them to children (www.BeaniesForBaghdad.com). LovingHugs.org sends soft stuffed animals to children in war zones, refugee camps, orphanages, medical facilities and the like.

Mattresses. If a retailer offers to take away your old mattress when you purchase a new one, try to find out what happens to it. Some retailers dismantle the mattress and recycle its components, and some don’t.

If it’s in good condition, offer it to shelters for the homeless or battered women, or to the Salvation Army.

Hauling the mattress to the curb for regular trash pickup is a last resort, but if it’s the only option, check with the sanitation department. Some communities require mattresses to be wrapped in heavy plastic and sturdy tape to seal in any bugs.

Paint. Put buckets of old paint to good use by asking around at local charities, religious organizations, or high school or college drama departments. Perhaps they can use it.

Some communities collect paint for reuse, but if there are no takers, call a local municipal recycling center or find a recycler at www.earth911.com.

Even items that seem useless can be recycled into something practical for someone else. Try these tips for stuff that’s past its prime:

Toys.  Ask a local animal shelter if they can use old stuffed animals to comfort puppies.

Clothing. At Goodwill, if they can’t repair clothes for sale, they’ll recycle old clothing scraps into industrial wipes for industrial buyers.

Cars. Nonprofit groups like Goodwill Industries and Habitat for Humanity accept vehicles; many don’t care whether they run or not.

Linens. Goodwill and Salvation Army thrift stores accept towels, sheets, curtains and such. To donate well-worn towels, call a local animal shelter. Often they take them to use for pet bedding and/or cleanup rags.

Furniture. Ask the trash collector about curbside pickup. Haul it to the curb a day early and put a “free” sign on it, in case someone might want it.

— Consumer Reports