Get rid of it

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September 24, 2012 // UPDATED 5:48 pm - December 27, 2012
By: Jeremy Zoss and Dylan Thomas
Jeremy Zoss and Dylan Thomas

One of the biggest mysteries of home ownership is how to get rid of all the unwanted stuff that builds up over time. Here’s a handy guide with tips on recycling and advice on disposing of hazardous material, old electronics and appliances, yard waste and the other various things that tend to overstay their welcome.

Hazardous materials

Hennepin County operates two year-round drop-off facilities where residents can drop off hazardous waste, old appliances and other unwanted stuff. They are located at 8100 Jefferson Highway in Brooklyn Park and 1400 West 96th St. in Bloomington. Both facilities are open Tuesday through Sunday starting at 10 a.m. Both are open until 6 p.m. Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, until 8 p.m. on Wednesday and until 5 p.m. on Saturday.

Both locations accept a wide variety of hazardous materials, such as old oil, paint, ink cartridges, car batteries, fluorescent lights and the like. For a charge, the sites will also accept old appliances. The Brooklyn Park facility accepts old mattresses and box springs for a charge. The Bloomington location does not. 

Yard waste

Minneapolis picks up bagged yard waste during curbside garbage collection, but some yard waste requires a little more effort to dispose of. For large brush, garden waste, Christmas trees and other larger yard items, the SKB Malcolm Avenue Transfer Station at 630 Malcolm Ave. SE is Minneapolis’ primary drop-off spot. Additional yard waste drop-off sites can be found in Brooklyn Park and Maple Grove. Plymouth’s yard waste site also has free wood chips available, but it is for residents only. Need free mulch? Make friends with someone in Plymouth!


The two Hennepin County waste disposal facilities accept many old electronics, but there are several other options that may be more convenient. Many manufacturers offer recycling programs that give you credit toward new electronics when old ones are turned in. For example, Apple will give you a gift card with a qualifying computer or a discount on a new iPod when you trade in an older model. Dell will take computers of any brand and donate the old machines to the National Cristina Foundation, which donates technology to nonprofits that serve disabled and disadvantaged children.

Stores like Best Buy offer recycling of old TVs, DVD players, cell phones and small electrics. Office Depot and Staples will also accept old technology for a small fee.


Much of the clutter sitting around your house may be able to go onto a second life. Many organizations around the metro area accept donations of clothes, household goods, books and even old eyeglasses. Most thrift stores no longer accept electronics. 

The Arc Greater Twin Cities, an organization dedicated to helping those with developmental disabilities, operates four stores in the Metro Area. Each store (located in Richfield, New Hope, Brooklyn Center and St. Paul) accepts donations of clothes, toys, books, decorations and even cars. Other thrift store networks in or around Minneapolis include Savers, Unique Thrift Store, Goodwill and the Salvation Army. 

Master recycling and composting

Hennepin County is offering another round of its Master Recycler/Composter training course over six weekly sessions beginning in October.

Launched with an inaugural class of 30 in 2011, the program digs deep into the “three Rs” — reduce, reuse and recycle — training volunteers in techniques to limit waste and boost recycling and composting in their communities. Classes also cover a variety of related topics, including alternatives to toxic household products and the basics of green building and deconstruction techniques.

Once the classroom work is completed, participants then volunteer at least 30 hours in their communities to earn their Master Recycler/Composter certification.

“They’ve been doing all sorts of stuff,” said program coordinator Carolyn Collopy. “We have some that have taken on their farmers markets and helped them go zero-waste by adding organics collection (for composting), some who’ve just taken on a table at their farmers market to talk about recycling and composting. I’ve got several who helped multi-family apartment buildings with their recycling.”

Collopy said program participants also share the lessons they’ve learned with family, friends, neighbors and coworkers. 

“Their impact goes way beyond the hours they report,” she said.

Past sessions have filled quickly, but Collopy said at least half of the 30 available seats for the fall session were still available as of early September.

Classes run 6 p.m.–8:30 p.m. on Tuesday evenings beginning Oct. 2 at Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board headquarters, 2117 West River Road N. There will be a break Nov. 6 for Election Day before the final class Nov. 13. There are also two optional fieldtrips to local waste and recycling facilities 11 a.m.–3 p.m. Oct. 12 and 26.

The course costs $30. To register online, go, click on “volunteer opportunities” and follow the “Master Recycler/Composters” link.

Master Recycler/Composter program graduates are available to design recycling plans or help out at events. To get in touch with a volunteer, or for more information on the program, contact Collopy at or 596-0993.

Choose to Reuse books available Oct. 1

Hennepin County is preparing for the annual release of its Choose to Reuse coupon books Oct. 1.

The books, which contain coupons good for discounts at about 80 local retailers, are now available for pre-order. Go to and type “choose to reuse” into the search box.

The coupons are good at a variety of thrift stores, repair shops, rental companies and other local businesses that encourage customers to reuse, rent or repair instead of buying new.

— Jeremy Zoss and Dylan Thomas