Did you know the team at WasteFreeSD.org (WFSD) assisted nearly 30,000 San Diego County residents in 2020 through its online waste diversion database and free hotline? And, each year, the number of people looking for advice on how to recycle, reuse, donate or properly dispose of unwanted household goods grows. This resource powered by environmental nonprofit I Love A Clean San Diego, in partnership with the County of San Diego, is a unique regional solution dedicated to recycling and preventing hazardous waste and many common household items from entering the landfill and the environment.

In 2020, resident inquiries increased 56 percent when compared to 2019. I Love A Clean San Diego assumes more people had time at home during the pandemic to clean out their homes, resulting in more questions about appropriate disposal of common household items. More importantly, it appears more county residents are looking for ways to keep waste out of the landfill.

“Judging by the increasing number of phone calls and hits to our database, we know residents care about doing the right thing for the environment. However, there are still many more who don’t know where to go for information,” said Len Hering Executive Director of I Love A Clean San Diego. “We want all San Diegans to know there are answers to their questions about what should be done with the toaster that no longer works, half-full paint cans, batteries and electronics, broken appliances and that couch that is no longer wanted or in need of repair.”

Some of the Top 10 items like household appliances, electronics (e-waste), household goods and textiles, cannot be placed in the recycle bin, but can still be recycled. WFSD can help point to donation and recycling options for these materials and others.

WFSD is also a great resource for upcycling or repurposing used items. For example, an old mobile phone may no longer work but companies like Apple and Best Buy offer takeback programs where the phones and other e-waste are recycled, dismantled for parts, and then upcycled into new phones or other products.

Unwanted items may also be classified as hazardous waste.

According to the EPA, household hazardous waste (HHW) are products that can catch fire, react, or explode under certain circumstances. These products, such as paints, household cleaners, oils, batteries, and pesticides come with warning labels. Products that contain corrosive, toxic, or flammable ingredients require special care.

Questions about warning labels and other HHW can be answered quickly and WFSD can assist in finding facilities and appointments to help people dispose of the items properly.

The WasteFreeSD.org team is eager to help inform more of the region’s communities and continuously researches resources to keep up to date on the latest low waste resources in the region. The R1-EARTH (1-877-713-2784) hotline staff offer friendly customer service and are open to assist with live consultations between 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday to Friday (except Holidays).

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