Recycling tips
February 12, 2006 2:58 PM   Subscribe

Spring cleaning: The prior owner of our house left a lot of paint thinner, paint, turpentine (or is that paint thinner) and just a ton of nasty cleansers in the shed, and I finally want to get rid of it in a safe and clean manner. How? Also: I have a bunch of electronics (monitors, CD players, vacuum cleaner) that I want to recycle. Any tips? If it helps, I am in Seattle (King County).
posted by xmutex to Law & Government (9 answers total)
posted by jellicle at 2:59 PM on February 12, 2006

check out freecycling sites for the recycling. there you can post that you have stuff, whether they work or not, and people who could use them will email you. its a good way for people with stuff they'd otherwise throw out to connect with people who could find a use for them. check out to find a community in your area.
posted by gilsonal at 3:10 PM on February 12, 2006

Check with your county -- mine does a once-a-year hazardous chemicals day where you can bring in anything remotely bad for the environment and drop it off for free. The builder of my house left 10-15 paint cans behind, so I was glad to finally rid my garage of them.

It's really amazing because proper disposal can cost hundreds of dollars, but the county waste agency sees it as a good thing to get everyone's nasty stuff for free instead of having to clean up the messes they create afterwards.
posted by mathowie at 3:33 PM on February 12, 2006

Best answer: King County Hazardous Waste can take the liquids. Re-PC can take the monitor but will charge you a recycling fee (somewhere around $10-$15). I don't know if they will take the consumer electronics (probably not, but call them). Try Freecycle for the vacuum cleaner if it still works.
posted by matildaben at 4:00 PM on February 12, 2006

Not sure about the paint thinner but I know that they won't accept wet paint in the garbage even if it's covered. You can however either leave the paint cans open until they are dry or buy some of that paint hardener at Home Depot to speed the process along. After the paint is dry, you can dispose of it along with your regular garbage.

I don't think you can do the same with the paint thinner though. Better to check with your town's public works maybe?

As far as the electronics (if they work), I would either donate them to someone who can use them or goodwill/salvation army. I think you have to pay (get a sticker from the town) to get it picked up with the garbage.
posted by eatcake at 4:02 PM on February 12, 2006

The King County Hazardous Waste place is right up in the Lake City/Northgate area. All the cloak and dagger stuff about calling for directions is just an agreement they have with their neighbors so that people don't leave hazardous waste outside of the collection facility. I went up there with literally dozens of half-empty cans of paint and other toxic crap from when I was helping someone clean out their basement and they took all of it.

In the Seattle area, I also had luck just putting an ad in the Craigslist free section for working junk I didn't want. This is especially good if you have a porch or other covered area where you can leave the stuff outside. They call, you leave it out for them, they come get it, you're done. If the stuff is in okay working order you can also call the Lighthouse Center for the Blind or many other local charities (Salvation Army too I think) and they'll pick it up, or you can drop ot off at that place down on 4th Ave S during open house. They'll take most things that are resalable, a big NO on futons and a few other unwieldy unsalable items.
posted by jessamyn at 5:44 PM on February 12, 2006

Freecycle can also be good for stuff that doesn't work - there might just be someone out there who wants parts from your item.
posted by altolinguistic at 1:46 AM on February 13, 2006

The link to the King County Hazardous Waste page is exactly right. I've twice taken paints, paint thiners, and a variety of chemicals to the South Seattle site, which does not require an appointment. If you go there, don't worry about signs that can be taken as charging you a fee - as a resident, you don't pay. (I think I took utility bills with me to prove I was a resident, but they didn't even ask.)

Definitely try freecycle for the electronics; it costs you nothing to post; the worst that happens is that no one replies.
posted by WestCoaster at 1:54 PM on February 13, 2006

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