Don't forget to recycle when spring cleaning

April 24, 1994|By Kara Kenna | Kara Kenna,Contributing Writer

Look around your house or apartment. If you have to step over boxes and bags of old clothes, used toys or cases of books just to get from one room to another, it's probably time to take action.

This year, you may want to tackle your spring-cleaning in an environmentally sound way. Instead of letting the broken washing machine collect dust in the basement or half-empty paint cans clutter the garage floor, gather your goods and send them off to the recycling center.

Run by local governments, nonprofit organizations and private enterprises, recycling collection programs conserve natural resources and restore the environment.

The centers also help increase space in your home by taking junk out of your hands. Found practically in every city and county, these programs include curbside collection, drop-off centers, buy-back centers that pay consumers for recyclable materials and waste companies that buy trash from businesses, industries, institutions, offices and schools.

Curbside collection is the most convenient way for households to recycle, according to the Maryland Environmental Service. Curbside collection provides scheduled pickups of separated, recyclable products. More than 50,000 households in Baltimore County participate in this program, according to Charles Reighart, recycling coordinator for Baltimore County.

The county's curbside collection alternates between mixed paper one week and bottles and cans the next week. Households are supplied with a starter kit explaining the process. A calendar listing area pickup sites is included in the kit. For more information about the program, contact the Baltimore County Recycling Division at (410) 887-4370.

The City of Baltimore also provides curbside collection on a weekly basis. For an area pickup schedule, call the Baltimore City Recycling Office at (410) 396-5916.

In addition to common recyclable items, such as aluminum cans, glass and newspapers, drop-off centers, buy-back centers and waste companies also accept used auto parts, paints, and some white goods -- bulky items such as freezers, metal furnishings, refrigerators, stoves, washing machines and water heaters. Some centers even recycle automobiles.

Some recycling centers may require that you prepare items before they will be accepted. For example, materials should generally be separated by texture, according to the Maryland Environmental Service.

Before drop-off, paper should be brown-bagged or bundled with twine; caps should be removed from plastic products, glass bottles and jars should be lidless and rinsed, and metal cans should be rinsed as well. Call ahead for specific preparation requirements and delivery schedules.

For a free copy of the 1994 "Maryland Recycling Directory," a complete listing of buy-back centers, drop-off centers and waste companies near you, call the Maryland Environmental Service at (800) I-RECYCLE or write to the MES at 2011 Commerce Park Drive, Annapolis, Md. 21401.

Aside from recycling, certain household items, such as clothing, furniture and small appliances, can be donated or sold to charitable groups, consignment shops, flea markets and thrift shops.

Some of these places include the Baltimore Goodwill Industries(410) 247-3500; Community Resource Bank of Maryland: (410) 547-8000; Disabled American Veterans: (410) 889-8222; Harford-Belair Community Medical Center: (410) 426-1525; League for the Handicapped: (410) 323-0500; North Baltimore Center: (410) 366-4360; Purple Heart: (410) 760-8512; and Salvation Army: (410) 644-9705. Call for delivery schedules and pickup times.

In addition, used books, craft supplies, magazines, paints and records can often be donated to day-care centers, libraries, schools or senior-citizen centers. Some of these places include the Springfield Hospital Center -- (410) 795-2100 -- and the Waxter Center for Senior Citizens -- (410) 396-1328.

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