DEAR ABBY: On May 13, "Diana in Lakewood, Calif.," asked you how to reuse or donate little jewelry boxes. You offered some great tips, but you should have let folks know about two terrific resources for giving away or recycling odd things.
Freecycle.org is an online network where people can give away or find free stuff in their local neighborhood. It is a great way to recycle items -- like the jewelry boxes -- to a local thrift store, a crafter or a teacher.
Earth911.com is also an amazing directory of local reuse and recycling options. I work at a thrift store for home improvements. (Instead of donating clothing or furniture, some people give us lumber, kitchen cabinets, hardware, etc.) Most people don't know that stores like ours exist. Reusing items from your neighbors wastes no energy and builds a sense of community. Abby, thanks for touching on this important topic. -- RUTHIE M. IN EDMONSTON, MD.
DEAR RUTHIE: Many readers wrote to remind me that one man's trash is another man's treasure, and we all must do whatever it takes to keep items out of landfills. Read on:
DEAR ABBY: I am an activity director at a small long-term-care facility and would love to receive those jewelry boxes. People don't realize how grateful we are to provide a home for their extra greeting cards, craft supplies, fabric scraps, wrapping paper, games, cards -- the list goes on and on. Diana should consider contacting her local nursing home activity director and put those boxes to good use.
Budgets are tight. With every cut our state and federal governments make to nursing homes, activity directors are always happy to give new life to no-longer-needed items. -- THE ACTIVITY GODDESS, BUHL, IDAHO
DEAR ABBY: I have another suggestion for Diana in Lakewood. Quit buying so much stuff!
Recycling is only a partial solution to a wasteful lifestyle. Millions of tons of plastic, no matter how many times it is recycled, end up in our oceans, where Texas-sized flotillas of plastic goo will outlast us all. The key is to generate less in the first place.
When considering a purchase, consider all four "R's": Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Repair. In this case, the option to "Reduce" should be observed by either buying less jewelry, or asking the vendors to quit over-packaging the stuff. -- DR. JAMES HAYES-BOHANAN, PROFESSOR OF ENVIRONMENTAL GEOGRAPHY
DEAR ABBY: Diana should donate the boxes to Goodwill, Salvation Army, Habitat for Humanity, preschools, Girl Scouts and Sunday schools -- not the landfill! -- ELSIE K., OAK RIDGE, TENN.
DEAR ABBY: Perfectly good items should never be tossed into a landfill. There is always someone who can use whatever it is as long as it's in good condition (and sometimes even when it's not). It should be the responsibility of the consumer to find that someone. While it may not be a legal responsibility, it is the right thing to do. -- ROSIE W. IN DENVER
DEAR ABBY: Most malls and department stores open gift-wrapping booths at holiday time. They are usually set up to raise funds for a specific charity. Diana can contact mall management and find out if it plans to have one and if so, what agency will be operating it. Then she can contact the agency and arrange to donate all of the boxes. Believe me, small boxes are always needed. -- LYNN IN CAMBRIDGE, ONTARIO