HOUSTON - The junk removal industry is booming, with 7000 junk hauling businesses across the country. People pay hundreds of dollars to have unwanted furniture, appliances, and toys taken away.
When choosing a hauler, you can help to ensure your old things land where they're needed, rather than in a landfill.
Some non-profits will pick up certain items for free. However, there are also junk hauling services that charge a fee, but will recycle or put your old stuff to good use.
"This is when I was going days without eating because I didn’t have anything else to eat," recalls Houston resident Victor Schacherl.
Schacherl says he was near eviction after losing his job. Epiphany Community Health Outreach Services, or ECHOS, helped him get food, a new job, and stay in his apartment.
After learning he had only a bed and dresser, ECHOS and The Junkluggers helped him get furniture, too.
"I have a bed, a dresser, and loveseat, and a dining table and chairs, basically what I need," said Schacherl.
ECHOS helps people facing eviction, refugees, or those fleeing domestic violence.
"When that happens, they leave with the clothes on their back, and they have nothing else," said ECHOS Executive Director Cathy Moore.
After helping them find homes, ECHOS partners with The Junkluggers to fill those empty homes with furniture.
"It feels like a home. You can sit on a couch and relax and watch tv. Or you have table to eat on," said ECHOS Senior Case Worker Yesenia Juarez.
"We try to donate and recycle as much as possible," said Blair Paul, an owner/director with The Junkluggers. "So we’re looking at the inventory that we're taking, and while we're removing it, we’re trying to identify if we can recycle or donate that inventory."
Junkluggers picks up things like toasters, appliances, and bedroom sets for customers. Then it partners with charities, such as ECHOS, Habitat for Humanity, and the Salvation Army, to deliver them to people in need.
"There really is value when you’re bringing a bed or a cot or something that’s important, and they don’t’ have it," said Paul.
The Junkluggers also recycle items they pick up from businesses, such as cardboard and paper; keeping items out of landfills, and instead, filling up lives.
"It’s like being finally in your own home, where you can relax and not have to worry about anything else but going to work and coming home," said Schacherl.
Some charities offer donation pick-up for free or low cost, and either sell the items or give them to people in need:
Arms of Hope
Houston Habitat for Humanity
Houston Food Bank
Houston Furniture Bank
Houston Local Charity
Purple Heart Foundation
Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston
Other junk removal businesses that recycle or deliver donations include:
College Hunks Hauling Junk