Denver VOICE guide to spring cleaning & recycling

You probably have a pretty good idea of where to donate clothing and furniture—but what do you do with the rest of your junk? Denver is full of nonprofits upcycling everything from office supplies to old paint to karaoke machines. Use this guide to help you figure out how to give a new life to practically everything cluttering up your closets.

By Danielle Krolewicz


Donate items to be upcycled— or learn how to upcycle them yourself at Resource Area For Teaching (RAFT). 

Donations Needed 

Specific, common items such as CDs and cases, bottle caps, gently used art supplies and scrapbooking materials, paper and binder clips, staplers and removers, scissors, egg cartons, and children’s books. If you have questions about additional items you wish to donate, you can contact 

About the organization 

RAFT upcycles materials into affordable activity kits for teachers and Colorado educators for hands-on classroom use. “RAFT is about innovation and creativity” reads its website. “Just about anything destined for the garbage or recycle bin can be transformed into a learning activity.” Since 2009, 150,000 cubic feet of materials destined for the landfill have been redirected into classrooms, serving 2,000 educators and 200,000 students in 25 Colorado counties. 

“We really really need corks right now!” wrote RAFT executive director Stephanie Welsh in an email. Corks are a versatile material, and are repurposed into things like game pieces and learning tools. “Sometimes they are axles, sometimes wheels, sometimes puzzle pieces, sometimes an object in a sink / float experiment … they are the best!” said Welsh.

Contact RAFT

3827 Steele St., Unit C, Denver
(720) 242-8833 •


Donations accepted Tuesdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. 


Blue Star Recyclers earns a gold star for recycling electronics.

Accepted Items 

For a small fee, Blue Star Recyclers will recycle your printers, keyboards, DVD and VCR players, stereos, video game players, cell phones, printers, fax machines, AV equipment, small appliances, microwaves, hair dryers, alkaline batteries, and vacuum cleaners. Fees range from $0.49 per pound - $2.00. 

About the organization 

As of July 1 2013, disposing of electronic equipment in the trash is illegal in Colorado (though tons of electronics still end up in the trash). Blue Star Recyclers provides a solution to two issues: the organization recycles your electronic waste AND Blue Star employs people with autism and other “disAbilities" [sic] to recycle the electronics.

Since its founding in 2009, Blue Star has recycled 10 million pounds of e-waste and employed 25 people with disabilities in Denver, Colorado Springs, and Boulder. “When you recycle with Blue Star, you help trigger three impacts: social, economic, and environmental,” said Bill Morris, chief executive officer. “We create meaningful employment for people with disabilities who face over 80 percent unemployment in Denver.” Blue Star is also an e-Stewards certified recycler, which means it pledged to use only globally responsible, safe means to process electronic waste.

Though Blue Star’s fees may be higher than some competitors, fees go to support the employment mission. “Unfortunately, the difficulty we have in serving low-income individuals is their lack of disposable income to pay for ethical recycling,” said Morris.  Blue Star is currently working with funders to help provide recycling to low-income families.

Contact Blue Star Recyclers

953 Decatur St., Suite C, Denver
(303) 534-1667 •


Tuesday – Thursday: 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Saturday: 9 a.m. - 1 p.m. 


Tennis balls and vegetable oil? SustainAbility will take them!

Accepted Items 

SustainAbility takes items you don't know what to do with, and turns them into jobs for people with disabilities. The Denver location charges a $3 entrance fee to drop off hard-to-recycle (H2R) items such as tennis balls, vegetable oil, CDs and DVDs, plastic grocery bags, Styrofoam, books, corks, and bubble wrap. Other H2R materials may have a per-item fee, such as paint (up to 20 cans per car per visit, $0.50 per can). Clothing, textiles, and home materials are accepted at both SustainAbility locations free of charge and are re-donated to a local, nonprofit thrift store. For a complete list of accepted items and costs, visit SustainAbility’s website. 

About the organization 

SustainAbility provides single stream recycling, electronic recycling, and has two H2R drop-off sites in Denver and Arvada.  In 2015, the 160 employees at SustainAbility prevented over 2 million pounds of waste from going to landfills. Of those employees, 120 have an intellectual or developmental disability, which can often make finding work difficult. SustainAbility partners with community organizations like Parker Personal Care Homes to recruit employees. 

Contact SustainAbility

6240 W 54th Ave., Arvada &
1270 S. Bannock St., Denver
(303) 425-9226 •


Arvada: Tuesday – Sunday: 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.
Denver: Tuesday – Thursday: 10 a.m. - 6 p.m., Friday – Sunday: 9 a.m. - 3 p.m. 


Upcycle your bicycle at Bikes Together.

Donations Needed 

All things bike, even if the bike is no longer ride-able. This includes bikes, tires, tubes, wheels, trailers, and racks. 

About the organization 

Bikes Together has two locations in Denver that accept donations of all things bike. Staff mechanics and volunteers may refurbish the bike for sale in the retail shop or strip the bike for all usable materials before recycling the rest. Most of these pieces end up for sale in one of two full-service bike shops—which is the main source of funding for all Bikes Together programs. Items found in the shop often come at a lower price than buying new.

Many donated bikes become part of the Earn-A-Bike program, which helps low-income individuals of all ages earn a bike by attending a bike maintenance and safety class and refurbishing their own bicycles at the end. To date, 6,649 bikes have been refurbished and 3,703 have been given away.

Contact Bikes Together

2825 Fairfax St., Denver • (303) 393-1963
1060 Osage St., Denver • (720) 403-8757


Fairfax: Tuesday – Thursday: 12 p.m. - 7 p.m., Friday – Sunday: 11 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Osage: Tuesday – Thursday: 12 p.m. - 7 p.m., Friday, Saturday: 11 a.m. - 5 p.m.


Don’t be a fool, recycle your tools at the Denver Tool Library.

Donations Needed 

The Denver Tool Library (DTL) accepts donations of tools in good condition. A complete list of needed items can be found on DTL’s website, but yes, they are looking for a karaoke machine. 

About the organization 

For $80 a year, you can become a member at the DTL, which is a lending library of over 2,500 tools. The library has tools for all uses—gardening, electrical, automotive, plumbing, and everything in between. There is also an in-house workspace for bicycle maintenance. 

“We don't have a ton of space to store materials, though 2x4s in good condition are always useful. Habitat for Humanity ReStore is a few blocks away from us and they are a great place to donate materials if we can't take them on,” said founder Sarah Steiner.

Contact Denver Tool Library

555 Santa Fe Dr., Denver
(720) 943-4385 •


Tuesday, Thursday: 3 - 7 p.m.
Saturday, Sunday: 10 a.m. - 2 p.m


Purge your paper at Bayaud Enterprises.

Accepted Items

Up to 275 pounds of paper for a minimum drop-off charge of $25.  Pick-up charge is slightly more at $40 for up to 20 boxes of material. 

About the organization 

Most office buildings subscribe to a monthly paper shredding service. But what about personal document shredding that doesn’t accrue enough to warrant a regular service? Bayaud Enterprises offers a solution. 

Each year Bayaud recycles about 4 million pounds of paper through its residential and business paper shredding. Bayaud employs people who face physical, mental, emotional, and economic barriers to employment in its Document Services Program. In addition to monthly, weekly, or bi-weekly office service, Bayaud can help you get rid of your personal confidential documents safely and securely. Bayaud is certified by the National Association of Information Destruction, which ensures a secure chain of custody and gets you a certificate of destruction.

Contact Bayaud Enterprises

333 W. Bayaud Ave., Denver
(303) 996-6693 •


Monday – Thursday: 8 - 11:30 a.m. & 12 - 2 p.m.