Safe spring cleaning

A guide to clearing out the clutter in an eco-friendly fashion


Odd things tend to turn up when you tackle the task of cleaning out your closet, from old paint and cleaning supplies to moldy food and frayed clothing. The question is, what do you with it all? For those who want to remain environmentally friendly when tossing out the trash, here are a few tips.


The first rule of spring cleaning while trying to be kind to the environment is to clean in increments.

“Folks need to plan ahead for spring cleaning,” says Iris Sela Horowitz of Eco-Cycle. “If you wait and try to do it all in one day, then the process of trying to figure out how to dispose of all the materials will seem laborious. If you break it out over a few days, it will be a lot easier to get everything done.”


There are several places around town that accept used clothing, including heavily used items that are stained or have holes. However, the clothes have to be clean.

So, the first step to clearing out your closet is to separate the clothes you don’t want any more into piles — vintage/designer, lightly used and heavily used — then toss the piles into the wash. Next, decide where you want to take them. The first pile with your vintage and designer items can be either sold or traded at Buffalo Exchange on 18th and Pearl streets. The second pile with the lightly used items you would rather donate than sell can be dropped off at the Goodwill on Baseline and Broadway or ARES Thrift Shop in both Boulder and Longmont. Finally, those grungy looking items in the third pile can be taken to Eco-Cycle’s Center for Hard-to-Recycle Materials (CHaRM) at 5030 Pearl St.

“The heavily used items that are still repairable are sent to communities in Africa to be mended and worn,” Horowitz says. “The stuff that can’t be reused is turned into industrial rags.”

Also, though organic and sustainable clothing is better for the environment in the manufacturing phase, it cannot be composted at the local facility because it could jam the equipment, so don’t put it in the curbside bin with the moldy veggies.


Toxic items like old paint, strong household cleaners and motor oil can cause groundwater pollution when improperly land-filled, so don’t toss these items in the trash. Instead, take them to the Boulder County Hazardous Materials Management Facility, which accepts most household hazardous materials.

There is no charge to drop off hazardous waste at the facility, though proof of residency, such as a driver’s license or a utility bill, is required. The facility accepts residents of Boulder County, Broomfield County and Erie.


If you are tired of looking at the rusting bike in the back of your garage or making space for skis you don’t use anymore, there are several options.

For those looking to make some money off of a top-of-the-line road bike or telemark skis, you can open a free consignment account at Boulder Sports Recycler. If a bike is not quite selling material, the parts can be taken to Community Cycles, where they will be refurbished and redistributed.

For more information on where to send unwanted household items, visit