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Saving the Planet, Saving Your Sanity

By Melanie Moffett
In Center Block
Mar 7th, 2016

green world in the heart hand

Decluttering the house is a rite of Spring, but it can also be the ideal moment to give the planet a break.

article by Michael DeVault

It’s no small coincidence that tax season and spring cleaning both coincide with a spike in donations at recycling and upcycling centers. After all, getting rid of those unused items and all of the detritus that’s collected can benefit both to your closet and your cash flow.

And you’d be surprised the types of materials you can recycle. From clothing and books to household items and obsolete electronics, you can find it all a home, provide a little respite to a landfill, and maybe save yourself a little money when it comes time to settle up with Uncle Sam on April 15.

Among the most commonly discarded items are books, magazines and newspapers. Many individuals don’t realize that books and magazines can find a home at the Monroe Symphony League. The stack of newspapers gathering dust in the garage will make a great bundle of blown cellulose insulation, and with the help of a recycling service such as Bayou Recycling Pickup, the move doesn’t have to be painful or inconvenient.

It doesn’t stop there, either. A large yard bag will hold almost a whole closet of old clothes, the kind of old clothes that have been accumulating in the guest bedroom. Take the big boxes of outfits your children outgrew before heading off to college, load it all up, and take it to Goodwill, the Salvation Army or Sassy Cats.

In the case of books and clothes, you get the dual benefits of good karma–they’re staying out of the landfill and someone will get some use from them. You’re also supporting a vital community effort to provide employment and support to individuals who work at these establishments. And you get your closet back. Be sure to grab a tax receipt before you leave, and it’ll even save you a few dollars off your taxes. Rules for how to apply these deductions and how to avoid a visit from the IRS Tax Man are readily available all over the Internet, and they’re pretty straight forward, as well. Before long you’ll find yourself rooting around in your kitchen.

That set of old pots you’ve not used since you got the new Cuisinart for Christmas in 2007 make a great donation to groups like Family Promise or Rays of Sonshine, two organizations that provide housing assistance to individuals or families in crisis. And everyone has a box of old electronics components lurking about in a hall closet, just gathering dust.

Sure, you don’t remember why you tossed the remote control to the T.V. you sent to your son’s dorm room into a box. But guess what? There are recycling groups that accept those old gadgets. The Palm Treo that has been a permanent fixture in the pen drawer of your desk can be upcycled as well.

Once you get started, it’ll be hard to quit. You’ll be surprised how quickly you can reduce the clutter while helping others. And when you show up at the accountant with the stack of receipts, you’ll be surprised how quickly those deductions add up, as well.

To help you begin, we’ve reached out to several area upcycle and recycle charities, curating a list of places where your discarded ephemera can make the biggest impact. So take a few minutes during your spring cleaning to consider where all of that mountain of stuff is headed. With just a little extra effort, you’ll be able to reduce the load to the dumpsters in lieu of putting out a whole lot of good will.

Demystifying Recycling
ARCO Shred: Paper waste such as old tax records and receipts, bank statements, bills, etc., which are shredded, baled and recycled at a local document destruction site at no charge and with complete confidentiality to protect you from identity theft. To arrange to have your old documents shredded, call Missy Fleming of ARCO at (318) 372-7817. http://www.arcomonroe.org/arcoshred.htm

Family Promise of Ouachita: Furniture and household goods, such as dishes, pots, pans and bedding. Take donated items from 10 a.m.-2 p.m., Tues-Sat. to the Family Promise Thrift Store at 100 Trenton St., West Monroe, 71291, (318) 654-4101 or (318) 651-0103. http://www.familypromiseofouachita.com

First Baptist Church West Monroe Thrift Store: Furniture, clothing, household items, bedding, glassware, décor, books, DVD/CDs, toys, baby items, and working electronics. Current needs: dishes, pots and pans, bedding, maternity clothing, plus-size clothing, men’s shoes and jeans and large baby items such as strollers, high chairs, walkers, etc. Take donated items 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to the drop-off center at 409 N. 5th St., West Monroe, 71291, (318) 410-0999. Call for furniture pick-up available on Saturdays. http://www.firstwest.cc/firstwestWM/community_thriftstore.html

Friends of the Ouachita Parish Public Library: All books, especially children’s books, large print books, cookbooks, encyclopedias and audio books. Take donated items to the West Ouachita Branch at 188 Hwy 546, West Monroe, 71291, (318) 327-1490, or any branch of the OPPL. http://www.oplib.org/friends.htm

Goodwill Industries of North Louisiana: Clothing, furniture, appliances, working electronics, children’s items and toys, shoes, clocks, lamps, coats, jewelry, books, chairs, vases, tools, handbags and collectibles. In Monroe, take donated items from 9 a.m.-8 p.m. Mon.-Sat. or 1-5 p.m. Sunday to the store at 2273 Louisville Ave., 71201, (318) 323-6793. In West Monroe, take donated items from 9 a.m.-8 p.m. Mon.-Sat. or 1-5 p.m. Sunday to the store at 3426 Cypress St., 71291, (318) 396-3378. In Ruston, take donated items from 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Mon.-Sat. or 1-5 p.m. Sunday to the store at 215 N. Service Rd. E., Ruston La., 71270, (318) 251-9162. (No furniture pickup available.) http://www.goodwillnla.org

Habitat for Humanity of Ouachita ReStore: Furniture, appliances, home décor, building materials (non-hazardous paint, lumber, etc.), doors, windows, tubs, toilets, blinds, curtains, house wares, etc. Call (318) 737-1112 to take donated items to the store at 2308 Washington St., Monroe, 71201, or to make arrangements for pick up of larger items. http://www.hfho.org

Hope Restored Counseling Center: Working computers, monitors, printers, business clothing and baby clothes and items, such as strollers, high chairs, walkers, etc. For its  boutique, clothing (especially boys’ and plus-size women’s clothes); skirts; winter coats, scarves, hats, shoes and boots; jewelry; accessories. Take donated items from 9:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Tues.-Thurs. to 3906 DeSiard St., Monroe, 71203, (318) 737-7939. https://www.facebook.com/HopeRestoredCounselingCenter

Humane Society Adoption Center of Monroe Inc.: Blankets, towels, animal carriers, bleach, Dawn dishwashing liquid, hand sanitizer, heavy duty 100-ft. water hoses, galvanized water buckets, trash bags, office supplies, lateral file cabinets, storage shelves, pet toys, dog collars, leashes, dog igloos. Take donated items from noon-5 p.m. Tues.-Sat. to the center at 920 Freight Dr., Monroe, 71203, (318) 387-9553. http://www.bayoudogs.org or https://www.facebook.com/pages/Humane-Society-Adoption-Center-Monroe/177045365655964

LearningTECH/Quest School: Small, used electronics, such as cell phones, digital cameras, iPads and inkjet printer cartridges. To donate items to the school at 2401 Oliver Road, Monroe, 71201, call (318) 322-6000. http://www.learningtechquestschool.net

Monroe City School System Homeless Student Program: Uniforms (pre-K–12th grade), book bags, school supplies, toiletries. To donate items, call Sallie Sutherland at (318) 325-0601 x. 5206.

Monroe Symphony League Book Fair: Books, audio books, magazines, vinyl records, CD/DVDs, sheet music, music booklets, encyclopedias. Take donated items from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. on Wednesdays to the MSL Book Room at 320 N. 4th St., Monroe, 71201, (318)-410-1002 or (318) 812-6761. (Closed Nov. 27-Jan. 15.)

Ouachita Council on Aging: Eyeglasses, blankets, wheelchairs, portable commodes, canes, walkers, crutches, shower stools, craft items, home décor, knickknacks, etc. Take donated items from 7:30 a.m.-11 a.m. or 1-4 p.m. Mon.-Fri. to the OCOA at 2407 Ferrand St., Monroe, 71201, (318) 387-0535. http://ouachitacoa.com

Ouachita Parish Animal Shelter: Towels, rugs, blankets, rags, dishwashing liquid, laundry detergent, pine oil, bleach, mops, brooms, paper towels, pet toys. Take donated items from 7 a.m.-4 p.m. Mon.-Fri. or 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday to the shelter at 417 Well Rd., West Monroe, 71292, (318) 323-4032. http://www.petfinder.com/shelters/parishpets.html

Ouachita Parish School System Homeless Student Program: Uniforms (pre-K–12th grade), book bags, school supplies, toiletries. To donate items, call Anthony Killian at (318) 432-5273.

Ray of Hope: Furniture, appliances, clothing, household items, toys, baby items, bedding. Take donated items from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. on Monday and Wednesday, or from 9 a.m.-noon Friday and Saturday to 1935 Winnsboro Rd., Monroe, 71202, (318) 322-9244.

Rays of Sonshine, the Zone: Furniture, appliances, clothing, shoes, household items, bedding, kitchen wares. Take donated items from 9-11 a.m. and 1-4 p.m. to 200 Breard St., Monroe, 71201, (318) 323-0502. http://www.raysofsonshine.org

River Cities Humane Society for Cats: Newspapers, blankets, towels, washcloths. For its semi-annual garage sales, furniture and household items of all kinds. Take donated items from 1 p.m.-4:45 p.m. Tues.-Sat. to the shelter at 5302 DeSiard St., Monroe, 71203, (318) 343-3031. http://www.rivercitiescats.org

Salvation Army: Clothing, furniture, appliances, working electronics, children’s items and toys, shoes, clocks, lamps, coats, jewelry, books, chairs, vases, tools, handbags and collectibles. Take donated items to the warehouse at 105 Hart St., Monroe, 71201, (318) 325-1755, from 9 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Mon.-Fri., or to the store at 145 Reagan St., West Monroe, 71291, from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Tues.-Sat. https://www.facebook.com/MonroeSalvationArmy

Sassy Kats: Clothing, small household goods, shoes, accessories, books, bedding. Take donated items to the stockroom at 504 Louisville Ave. from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Mon.-Fri. Clothing can also be placed at any time in bins at either the Sassy Kats store or ARCO at 901 N. 4th St., Monroe, 71201, (318) 323-3543. http://www.arcomonroe.org/sassykats.htm

St. Vincent de Paul Community Pharmacy: Prescription medications, except for controlled substances and birth control pills. Must be in-date (unexpired) and in sealed, tamper-evident packaging. Take donated prescriptions from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Tues.-Thurs. to the pharmacy at 502 Grammont St., Monroe, 71201, (318) 387-7868.

Wellspring Alliance for Families: New (not used) women’s and children’s clothing, used coats, hats, umbrellas, furniture, appliances, toys, dishes, pots and pans, bedding, pillows, personal hygiene items, toiletries, cleaning supplies and baby items such as  diapers and baby wipes. To donate items, call (318) 651-9314 or (318) 323-1505. 1515 Jackson St., Monroe, 71201, 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays. http://wellspringalliance.org

4 Paws Rescue: Blankets, sheets, curtains, towels. Take donated items from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tues.-Sat. to the shelter at 290 Rodeo Road, Ruston, 71270, or call (318) 251-DOGS for pick up. http://4pawsrescueinc.myresq.org https://www.facebook.com/4pawsruston