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Falling into local recycling

Nancy Cox sorts through clothing in the store room of the Salvation Army Thrift Store in Superior on Thursday morning. Jed Carlson /

It's the first day of fall, a time for colorful leaves, cool nights and the wind-down of rummage sale season.

For many, the sales went well. Others were left with piles of boxes in their garage.

Douglas County offers a range of options to recycle everything from shoes to couches.

Clean items in good working order — gently used clothes, furniture and household goods — have many takers.

Thrift stores

Donations are accepted at the back door of the Salvation Army Thrift Store, 1705 Belknap St., or the Goodwill store, 2911 Tower Ave., during regular business hours.

The donations are then sold, with proceeds earmarked for each organization's core missions. Goodwill provides employment to people with disabilities or other barriers to employment. The Salvation Army offers community services including a food pantry, youth programs, holiday gifts for those in need and a hygiene closet.

Both organizations stressed that items should be in good condition and must be dropped off during store hours.

"We try not to turn things away," said Salvation Army Thrift Store manager Mark Reed, but sales have been down 50 percent because of ongoing Belknap Street reconstruction.

Find a new home for new or gently used furniture, cabinets, light fixtures, tools, appliances and building materials through Western Lake Superior Habitat for Humanity's ReStore, 1621 Broadway St. Donations are resold to fund area home builds and home improvement projects.

Earth Exchange, 1713 Belknap St., accepts a wide array of donations in reusable condition. It's easier to list what the business doesn't take, said owner Kara James — large appliances, monitors, mattresses and boxsprings.

"We try to find a home for everything so we keep it out of the landfill," James said.

The Superior business offers a discounts-for-donations program. Based on the quality and quantity of items they bring in, donors earn a discount that can be used on any merchandise in the store, including new furniture.

"That's what people love," James said.

Senior loan closet

Senior Connections, 1527 Tower Ave., houses a senior loan closet that accepts donations of wheelchairs, walkers, canes, commodes, shower chairs and crutches on weekdays. The items must be clean and in working order. They are loaned out to Douglas County residents for free and can be kept as long as they are needed.

Drop boxes

Clothing and textile items can be dropped in a pair of large collection boxes, located at 1024 Belknap St. and 2104 E. Fifth St., any time. The bins are owned by WearEver Recycling, based in Oak Grove, Minn. Owner Jerry Bauer began the recycling company in 2007, bringing bins to the Twin Ports about seven years ago.

The donated material is picked up regularly and trucked to the WearEver facility for recycling. About 45 percent is reused as apparel. Another 30 percent is made into wiping and polishing cloths; 20 percent is processed into furniture stuffing, insulation, carpet padding and more, and 5 percent can't be saved.

At one point, Bauer said, WearEver sold clothing to Savers in Duluth. In today's economic climate, most of what the business collects is sold as second-hand clothing in South and Central America. Belts, jackets, shoes and women's underwear are in high demand in those markets, Bauer said.

Additional options

St. Vincent de Paul's clothing and food shelf is housed at the Catholic Charities building, 1416 Cumming Ave. Donations of household items and gently-used clothing can be brought in during office hours Monday through Thursday. The items are then given to those in need.

The city of Superior's Moccasin Mike Landfill has a reuse center where items in good condition, most often furniture, can be dropped off at no charge during regular hours. Superior residents can pick items up at the center for free.

Not for resale

The Douglas County Recycling Department website,, provides information for people looking to unload items that can't be donated.

The site includes a list of drop-off locations in the county, numbers for recycling services and a guide for how to recycle car batteries, appliances, asbestos, tires, used oil, hazardous waste and more. Following are a few highlights:

Ammunition, flares and other explosive devices must be brought to a law enforcement agency.

Packing peanuts are not recyclable, but Arco Coffee and Goin' Postal will reuse them.

Afterlife Electronics and Always Available Roll-Off collect electronics and recycle appliances.

Free sharps disposal is available for individuals through a joint program between the county, city and Essentia Health Superior. Collect a container for sharps disposal at the Essentia Health Superior pharmacy, 3500 Tower Ave., and return it when it's full for proper disposal and a new container. The program is not available to businesses.

Fluorescent bulbs can be brought to the city's Wastewater Treatment Plant, Campbell Lumber, Hardware Hank in Poplar and Afterlife Electronics.

Mattresses and boxsprings may be disposed of at Moccasin Mike Landfill for a fee.

Waste pharmaceuticals can be deposited in a locked drop off box at the Superior Police Department, 4808 Hammond Ave., during office hours.