By Nicole Kidder, Reporter
When the sun finally blesses our Northwest corner with longer, warmer days, motivation sets in to purge overflowing closets, junk-filled rooms and debris-littered lawns. Decluttering has actual health benefits, according to researchers who note that carrying all that extra baggage intensifies physical and emotional stress.
This past year, the pandemic has complicated plans to discard those stockpiles, leaving many of us feeling annoyed and overwhelmed. Now that community resources are AGAIN available, here are some ways to responsibly discard things that no longer spark joy in your life. Most agencies require masks and social distancing to comply with current COVID-19 guidelines, which have also impacted donation and drop-off procedures.
Make a Buck on Your Junk
The most responsible way to get rid of our stuff is to pass it on to someone else who can use it. Yard sales have always been a popular way to make some mad money for a summer vacation or new patio set. Local neighbors have found ways to safely sell their items virtually using cash or app payments and porch pickups. Good-condition items easily sell on online platforms like NextDoor, OfferUp and Craigslist. Search Facebook for localized selling groups, such as Stevens County Buy & Sale Trading Post or Nine Mile Falls Sell/Trade/Post, to connect with your neighbors.
It is best to hold a physical yard sale when you have many items to sell. A great way to attract attention is to get several families involved. Entering its fifth year, the Suncrest Community Yard Sale is scheduled for April 24 from 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. This town-wide event, where residents hold their own personal yard sales all on the same day, continues to expand each year with nearly 60 homes participating before the pandemic canceled the 2020 event. Shoppers pick up maps at The Outpost Shopping Center (5978 Hwy. 291, Nine Mile Falls).
Suncrest resident Terry Dean organized the first event in 2017 “just for the fun of it,” she noted in a promotional post. “One thing led to another, and a lot of people wanted to join in on a community yard sale. Now there is practically a sale on every corner!” In years past, the event has coincided with the Lakeside Senior All-Nighter fundraiser, which rents table spaces to vendors for $25 in The Outpost parking lot. After the event, Dean arranges a donations pickup with a Spokane thrift store to grab leftover items.
Take Yard Waste to Chipper Days
Suncrest residents living inside the Urban Growth Area (UGA) are not permitted to burn yard waste like the rest of the county. In response, Stevens County Fire District No. 1 hosts Chipper Days for three weekends in May and October. Any county resident can drop by Station 4 (6444 Hwy. 291, Nine Mile Falls) between 8 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. to unload natural yard debris. This includes pine needles, grass clippings, small brush and gardening remains as well as large tree stumps and limbs with leaves. Dimensional lumber is not accepted .
The dump fees, which range from $10-20 based on load size, benefit the local youth groups that unload the trucks and trailers. The Boy Scouts will assist on May 8 while the Senior All-Nighter committees will take over on May 15 (Lakeside) and May 29 (Springdale). The mulch from the chippings is sent to Spokane’s Waste-to-Energy Plant.
Chipper Days is also available in the Loon Lake/Deer Lake area. On June 5, the fire department will set up a yard waste site just north of Baldwin Lumber on Agar Road. For residents who are allowed to burn at home, review the detailed guidance provided by the Dept. of Natural Resources (DNR). These safety tips include creating a fire break around the pile and keeping five gallons of water nearby. DNR requires Stevens County residents to pull a burn permit if piles are larger than 10-feet across, from mid-October to June, or four feet across during the warmer, drier months. Visit https://www.dnr.wa.gov/publications/rp_burn_need_burn_permit.pdf for details about burning without a permit.
Responsibly Declutter Household Goods
Clothing, household goods and electronics can typically be passed on to others or upcycled into new products. Thrift stores are taking donated items in good, useable condition. Along with chains like Goodwill, Value Village and Salvation Army, local thrift stores and consignment shops accept donations from neighbors. Most places do not take large appliances, damaged furniture, construction materials, vehicles or mattresses.
Consider contributing clothing, shoes and coats to nearby charities like the Lake Spokane Community Church Clothing Closet or Hunters Food and Clothing Bank. Business attire is especially needed at The Women’s Closet, The Arc of Spokane and the Union Gospel Mission in town. These nonprofit programs provide free clothing for jobseekers and those transitioning between homes.
Bag up textiles in poor condition to donate to a youth group’s Value Village FUNDrive. Popular among sports groups and clubs, this recycling fundraising program pays out per pound. Acceptable items include new or damaged clothing, bedding, shoes, stuffed animals, towels and handbags. Reach out to your school or a virtual community forum to find participating groups.
Check with your local pharmacy for prescription and pill bottle take-back programs. Many local grocery stores also provide plastic bag recycling options. Walmart and Target locations in Spokane have suspended the program for now, but rural stores may still accept the bags. The Suncrest Rosauers has a recycle bin next to the grocery baskets, so ask your grocer about setting one up if it is not currently available.
Keep Technology Out of the Trash
Best Buy and Staples, located on North Newport Highway in Spokane, offer comprehensive technology recycling programs. The stores accept, free of charge, everything from television, computer and audio components to vacuums, fans and weather stations. Drop-offs are limited to three items per day, but a box is counted as a single item.
Consumers and businesses can also pick up recycling boxes from Office Depot’s Tech Recycling Service. Customers purchase a box, ranging between $5 and $15, that they can fill with up to 60 pounds of equipment and then return to the store. Video Only (7755 N. Division St.) is the sole store that accepts all televisions, in all sizes, ages and conditions, free of charge for recycling.
With a mission to recycle even more than they sell, Batteries Plus Bulbs (7704 N. Division St.) takes a dozen different types of light bulbs along with a variety of household, auto and rechargeable batteries. Each day, up to 10 CFL bulbs and tubes can also be dropped off at the ACE Hardware in Chewelah or Deer Park as well as the Colville Hardware Do It Center.
There are many more specialty items that places around town will take including paint, medical equipment, treated wood and entertainment media. Consult www.spokaneriver.net/wastedirectory or call the Spokane County Regional Recycling Information Line at 509-477-6800 to match a location with a specific product.
When It’s Time to Dump It
Despite our best efforts to reuse or recycle, some household items and waste simply must get tossed in the trash. Generally, non-recyclable items include Styrofoam, garden hoses, Christmas lights and wires. Restrictive garbage services in South Stevens County require large items, hazardous waste and yard debris to be disposed of at a local dump. Recycling at both of the following locations is free, but garbage is at a fee which is based on the total weight difference from when vehicles enter and leave. The stations charge a $10 minimum and accept cash or check only.
The Stevens County South Transfer Station is located in Loon Lake east of Hwy. 395 on Grouse Creek Rd. The gates are open from 9 a.m. – 4:45 p.m., Friday through Sunday, for residents to toss bagged garbage, including construction demolition and yard waste. The transfer station recycles newspapers, plastic jugs, aluminum cans, vehicle oil and batteries in the bins located outside the gate. Information is currently difficult to find online as the station changed ownership from Sunshine Disposal to Stevens County Solid Waste, so it is best to contact the location directly at 509-233-8941.
Kettle Falls is home to the county’s only municipal solid waste landfill. Located off Highway 25, the Stevens County Landfill also accepts residential garbage and recycling. However, this is the place to bring unusable furniture, appliances, tires, scrap metals and woodstove ashes. Residents can also bring in household hazardous waste, including gasoline and pesticides, but disposal is by appointment only on Saturdays. Otherwise, stop by between 8:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday, to access the pit.
On April 25, the landfill will host its twice-yearly Stevens County Free Metals Day from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. No garbage will be accepted, but residents can scrap contaminant-free metals at no charge. This is a rare chance to purge cleaned-out large appliances, drained lawn tools and barbed wire fencing that is free of wooden posts, baling twine and other non-metals. The landfill will not accept vehicles, auto parts, paint or items with less than 90% metal, such as dishwashers, televisions and vacuums.