Wednesday, November 30, 2011

iRecycle: the app that my sister (almost) invented

The Keurig coffee maker was the first thing to leave the curb, picked up by a guy on roller blades. We peered from behind the curtains in the front window and watched him read the disclaimer, written in sharpie marker and taped to the box by my very honest sister: "This was given to us by a friend second-hand. We think it probably works, but we never actually tried it. Good luck." I don't know who had higher hopes, the roller-blader with the free find, or my sister, who was on a downsizing binge. She had gathered kitchen gadgets, clothes no longer in favor, sewing fabric, and miscellaneous items from closets, put them all out on the curb with an enticing FREE STUFF sign, and posted an alert on Craigslist. We felt like household goods adoption agents, monitoring the bonding between items and the passers by, but keeping a respectful distance so as not to jeopardize the attachment process. By the end of the day, even the single mugs had found new homes. We were left with a printer with a crooked paper feed, (the disclaimer having probably been too much information in this case), and a few other odds and ends.

Passionate about diverting things from the waste stream, my sister knew exactly where to take the leftovers to increase their chances of being reused or properly recycled. She knew which thrift stores in her community would be likely to resell clothes versus dishes, where to take the electronic waste, and where to donate the leftover craft supplies. Recognizing that not everyone is as obsessed or committed to this cause as she is, she proposed, "Redistribution needs to be easier for people...people aren't against recycling or repurposing, they just don't know what to do with their stuff...they don't have time to spend doing the research...they use up all their energy just making the decision to finally get rid of something, and at that point, they just need a quick solution for disposal... " And then the lightbulb went off, and for the next few hours, two low-tech sisters thought they had invented an App to save the planet.

While reading a magazine the following week, I discovered that we weren't the first people to think of this. It already exists.  iRecycle is available for iOS and Android, or at Earth911on the internet if you are still using a computer. It's easy to use! Enter your zip code, enter the item you are ready to recycle or redistribute, and find your local recycling centers.

You may be very familiar with the resources in your own community, but keep this in mind if you ever find yourself cleaning out the household of a faraway family member.  I wish I had known of this a few years ago...


  1. You've gotta believe that if it's a good idea, someone else probably already though of it.

    I'm not into a whole lot of the high tec stuff, but since the rest of the world is, these aps are great. (the only problem is that one day there will be no more phonebooks, and people like me will be lost... of course, that would downsize a lot of trash!)

    I do think that taking things to thrift stores is risky. It is sad, but alot of donations get tossed out with the trash. Along with your recycling too! I've found that the best way to downsize, and pass the unwanted stuff on to others is by giving it away. Craig's List is great for that. Who doesn't want something posted for free! And curb side free piles... jackpot! You'd be amazed at what people have taken off my curb, stuff that even I would have thrown away.


  2. Some would call me a hoarder, others a minimalist/downsizer. I call myself a hoarding downsizer. I tend to try really hard to give most things a second chance at life, and sometimes a third. I've been known to pull things out of the garbage, to use myself, or redistribute to others.

    I just recently had a day off, during the week and wanted to take full advantage of weekday business hours. I had been saving a pile of books to one day take to our local used book store. I'm always working during his buy back days, so this was the day to try to get some cash for my hoarded books, and make some room in my life. Unfortunately he already had most of the books I was trying to sell back, so I left unsuccessful, but will hold onto them to try again during the summer.

    My biggest feet for the day was to load up my little subaru with a years worth of cans I'd been collecting from work and home recycling. (I take the recycling from work out twice a week and deliver it to one of the collection areas in town), but have been saving the aluminum cans and pie tins in my shed. We have a local metal recycling business in town, and they buy back all kinds of metals. Aluminum has a pretty decent going rate (40 cents/lb), and is the easiest material to recycling. So after loading up my dogs, and 1 1/2 car loads of cans, I came home with $26, cash. I guess I was a little disappointed, and hoped for more $$ for all my hard work, but I felt really good about my 66 pounds of aluminum gone, and a lot of space in the shed. I might as well get something for recycling it.
    The money is really in copper and other precious metals. Ammo shells are worth a lot too. I'll plan to make another trip after hunting season.

    Happy recycling!

  3. All done, we're now on the new server. :)

  4. This was the day to try to get some cash for my hoarded books, and make some room in my life.

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