Reduce, Reuse, Recycle: The three R’s apply to large items, too!


Waste, sofa and mattress

Perhaps you’ve decided it’s finally time to replace that old mattress that makes your back hurt. After the excitement wears off from purchasing the new mattress, you quickly realize that you’re not 100 percent sure what to do with your old mattress. Or maybe the part needed to fix your lawn mower is no longer made.

Whether it’s the broken window A/C unit, an old lawnmower, the sofa that got chewed during the puppy phase, or a worn mattress, these large items simply don’t fi t in our garbage cans. 

It’s easy to make a call and pay a fee to throw away your stuff, but there may be a better, more sustainable option. For instance, can the couch cushions be reupholstered and thrive in the living room another 20 years? Or maybe that A/C unit just needs a tune-up. The cost to repair is often much less than buying new, and good products can be used for years before burying them in a landfill. Even items beyond repair can have a better end-of-life story than a direct trip to the landfill. Perhaps a repair shop could use your old lawn mower for parts, or someone could use these household items in a different way. 

Consider these options when you’re ready to part with the big stuff

REDUCE waste by repairing items rather than discarding them

REUSE items by selling or donating them

  • Offer your items to friends or family
  • Post items online for sale/free (e.g., Facebook Marketplace, BuyNothing, Nextdoor, etc.)
  • Donate to thrift stores if your items are in good, working condition
  • Offer items to repair shops for salvage

RECYCLE or dispose of items at the end of their life

  • Call your garbage and recycling company for home pickup or coordinate pickup with your management company if you live in an apartment, condo, or mobile home community (for a fee)
  • Drop off your things at the dump (for a fee)

Remember: Whether big or small, the best option is to first reduce waste, then reuse items, and then recycle or discard. 

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