Post-holiday, spring-cleaning junk? DC recycler will take it off your hands

WASHINGTON — By now, most tinsel-strung trees, blowup Santas and reindeer-themed wreaths are no longer on display. But if those decorations, along with some empty shirt boxes, unwanted gifts and old electronics, are taking up precious space in your garage (or closet or attic), a local recycling enthusiast wants to take them off your hands.

Last month, Ben Pitler, a 23-year-old recent graduate of American University, launched a project called Regift, Reuse, Recycle DC in an effort to cut down on the amount of holiday waste that ends up in the landfill.

“I’ve been increasingly overwhelmed with the amount of things that we’re throwing away,” said Pitler, a resident of Northwest D.C.

“It’s so much easier to throw things away than to recycle them or otherwise repurpose them properly … but there are a lot of items that we can reuse and repurpose” — including those that can’t be sorted and collected in bins.

This winter, Pitler is willing to pick up everything from strands of holiday lights, to bags of clothing, to old batteries — as long as it all fits in his Honda CRV (seats down).

The lights he collects will go to Mom’s Organic Market, which has an annual holiday lights drive; most other things will go to Goodwill, or in the case of electronics, will be recycled appropriately.

“Really, what I see myself as doing is just being a bridge. A lot of people that I’ve gotten responses from just don’t have cars in the city,” said Pitler, who has been advertising his volunteer pickup services online and via signs in his neighborhood.

“For the people who can’t get themselves out to Goodwill … I’d be happy to be the bridge that gets their stuff to the right place.”

Pitler, who works a 9-to-5 in property management, said his experimental project isn’t limited to post-holiday junk; he is also willing to pick up spring cleaning donations from local residents.

“I want people to start thinking about the gap that exists between the traditional recycling that we collect and the trash that we collect, and how there are so many items that don’t fall into either of those buckets,” he said.

“The way I see it, the majority of that stuff you’re going to throw away can be used in one way or another, whether it’s arts and crafts, being broken down into fabric, being made into furniture — there are so many uses for the things that we throw away.”

Arrangements for a recycling pickup can be made through Pitler’s website.

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