5 Best Ways to Go Beyond Regular Recycling
Recycling your cans is great. Recycling your couch is better.
According to the 2015 performance audit of the Pittsburgh Department of Public Works, when citizens don’t recycle, the city’s landfill fees increase, potential recycling sales revenue is lost and the city does not receive state grants for recycling performances, the cost of which is absorbed by taxpayers.
Pittsburgh collected 95,603 tons of garbage in 2013, costing the city more than $2.4 million. In addition to recyclable materials, responsible recycling of refuse and bulk materials can help get this number down. You can save your clothes, couches, computers from rotting away in landfills, all while saving the environment and saving the city money.
Free Store 15104
The Free Store 15104 receives surplus and donated goods to redistribute to neighbors in need. The project was founded in 2012 by Gisele Fetterman to counteract excessive waste and consumption and to eradicate clothing insecurity. It’s entirely volunteer run, and all of the items are always free and never resold.
“We want to keep as much out of a dumpster as possible, because good things don’t belong there,” says Fetterman. “Our hope is that those who come get what they need and then when they’re able, bring a donation themselves.”
Free Store 15104, located at 420 Braddock Ave. in Braddock, and Free Store Wilkinsburg, located at 619 Penn Ave., cannot accept large furniture or electronics. They collect other new or gently used items and are always in need of donations of baby clothing, formula, diapers and household items.
Another Free Store opened in 2016 at the Lincoln Park Community Center in Penn Hills.
Photo Courtesy of Off the Floor Pittsburgh
Off the Floor Pittsburgh
Off the Floor Pittsburgh is a nonprofit organization that partners with 35 agencies in the county to identify disadvantaged families in need and provide them with donated furniture. When it began in 2004, the organization helped an average of one family a month. Last year, it recycled more than 6,000 items for 516 families.
“If you live in an empty house, you can’t help but feel in a bad state,” says Bob Myers, executive director of Off the Floor Pittsburgh. “We provide something they can have pride in, that helps raise their self-esteem. Now they can host parties, have friends over and improve their general social interactions.”
Off the Floor Pittsburgh Warehouse is located at 901 Allegheny Ave., Manchester.
Photo Courtesy of P.R.I.S.M.
P.R.I.S.M. Garage Giveaway
P.R.I.S.M. stands for Pittsburgh Region International Student Ministry, a nonprofit, faith-based organization designed to help meet the needs of international students and visiting scholars during their stay in Pittsburgh.
Garage Giveaway is one of P.R.I.S.M.’s many events. Locals donate furniture and other household items and P.R.I.S.M. gives them for free to international students who are arriving in Pittsburgh. Over the past years, P.R.I.S.M. has had approximately 500 students from 22 countries attend the event.
“Students are always surprised. They’re like ‘Wow, where do you get all this stuff?’” says Scott Boyd, director of P.R.I.S.M. “And we say, ‘Well, it’s just the generosity of local people who are glad to say, ‘Welcome to Pittsburgh.’”
P.R.I.S.M. is located at 4001 Fifth Ave., Oakland.
Evolution E-Cycling, LLC
Evolution E-Cycling is a computer and electronics recycling company that accepts flat screen TVs, cell phones, laptops, video game consoles, microwaves and more. It also offers data protection services such as onsite hard drive destruction and backup tape degaussing. Universal waste such as lighting ballasts, fluorescent tube lamps and batteries of all types are also accepted.
Evolution E-Cycling is located at 2235 Mary St., South Side.
freecycle.org is an online network of 5,000 + groups with more than 9 million members across the globe. The Freecycle Network is a grassroots and nonprofit movement of people who give (and get) items for free in their own communities and keep usable materials out of landfills. Membership is free and everything posted is free, legal and appropriate for all ages.
According to its website, groups are run by volunteer moderators, and members take part in the worldwide gifting movement that reduces waste, saves precious resources and eases the burden on landfills.
There are currently 13,535 members in the Pittsburgh group.