I feel like I've been taking a lot of pictures of trash cans lately (which I have), so I want to take things in a different direction today, because recycling glass, plastic, aluminum, and paper is only part of (what can be) a much broader solution. I like to think of the mantra "Reduce, Recycle, and Reuse" as the three R's of the twenty-first century, and any discussion of recycling would be incomplete without addressing this triumverate of waste-reduction techniques in its entirety.
I volunteer at a local animal shelter, and one of the ways I help out is by doing laundry. I wash, dry, and fold blankets, sheets, towels, throw rugs, and even placemats, which are used to line cages and provide soft places throughout the shelter where residents can sleep, hang out, and play. These linens are washed daily, which is a seemingly endless task, and an astounding number of them are needed to replace the soiled linens that are being washed and readied to use again the following day.
At home, I've recently replaced my threadbare towels, and now that I've upgraded to a queen-sized bed, my full-sized sheets are obsolete. Since the towels are no longer fit for human use, and my sister only needs so many sets of sheets for her guest bed, my first thought was to donate them, along with some bathmats and throw rugs given to me by my mother during her "you can never have too many bathmats" phase. This way, I won't feel guilty about giving crappy towels to Goodwill or anything, and I know they'll be put to good use for a bunch of deserving and grateful recipients.
Shelters always have a need for blankets and towels and the like, and they always welcome donations-- not all donations have to be monetary. In fact, many shelters have "wish lists" posted on their Web sites-- they can use more than just pet food, toys, and blankets! A perfect solution to the overstuffed linen closets of America, donors can't help but feel all warm and fuzzy about providing a touch of home for some warm fuzzies, still awaiting a home of their own.