City Cast

♻️ How To Be a Better Recycler This Moving Season (and Always)

Hayley Sperling
Hayley Sperling
Posted on August 14   |   Updated on September 12
Image via City of Madison

Image via City of Madison

August is moving season in Madison and every year the streets fill with trash and treasure alike as residents participate in the annual housing shuffle.

Locally, this time of year — specifically Aug. 14 and 15 — is known as Hippie Christmas. IKEA couches, cracked coffee tables, someone’s-grandma’s recliner, and other discarded furniture turn the sidewalks into temporary flea markets where everything is free.

But Hippie Christmas reached its apex in the 19080s and 1990s. These days, much of what gets tossed to the curb ends up in the landfill. The city estimates August moving days generate more than 1 million pounds of waste every year.

Whether your lease is up this week or not, here are a few things to keep in mind when taking out the trash.

Can you recycle that?

All recyclables should be put into your green recycling cart. Make sure you empty, flatten, and bundle cardboard.

When it comes to recycling plastic, a good rule to remember is that items should have a lid or a handle to be recycled. This means no straws, no plastic bags, and definitely no shower curtains.

In Wisconsin, many small electronics can’t be tossed in the trash because they’re banned from landfills. Instead, items like TVs, desktop computers, monitors, and laptops can be brought to the Streets Division’s drop-off sites or a private electronics recycler.

When in doubt: consult the Madison Recyclopedia and city guidelines.

What about large items?

If you live in the downtown moving area you won’t have to complete work orders for large items.

Items like couches, desks, and chairs don’t require any fees for pick up and should be put out neatly onto curbs. Try to keep items together if possible and make sure they don’t obstruct fire hydrants or street signs. Keep your stuff out from under low-hanging wires and trees, too. Remember, there are real people coming to pick these items up for you, don’t make their lives harder by making a mess.

Have you considered donating?

The city has compiled a list of local businesses that will take your unused items for donation. Websites like Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace are always good options as well. Just make sure to take the proper digital and in-person precautions.

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