Try one of these earth-friendly tips before tossing your old rug in the trash

Dingy old carpet getting in the way of your living room update? Get rid of that old thing and make room for a bright new update. Americans put about 5 billion pounds of carpet a year into landfills, so stuffing it into the trash isn't the best alternative. Here are four great ways to keep your old rug out of the dump, give it new uses around the house, and even bring you some extra cash:

1. Sell it. Before dumping your old carpet or rug on the curb, try cleaning it up to see if it can be reused. Even if you don't want it, you'd be surprised how many people would love to purchase your rug. Selling it (at a garage sale, through want ads or Craigslist.org) keeps it out of the dump and puts extra cash in your pocket. Look up the care instructions for your carpet's material and wash it, or even dye it for a fresh, new look.

PHOTOS: See beautiful rugs in home design photos

2. Donate it. As long as it's clean and smells all right, many charity organizations will take old carpets and rugs. Many animal shelters and training facilities welcome pieces of old carpeting to use for the bottom of dog and cat cages. Craigslist's "free" section and Freecycle are great online resources if you'd rather avoid hauling a big roll of carpet in the back of your car.

3. Recycle it. While it can be a little more complicated, there are facilities that will recycle carpet, turning it into everything from roofing shingles to railroad ties and furniture batting. Ask your installer or carpet supplier, as many individual carpet and rug companies offer recycling options at their factories.

Some facilities that can be found through CARE — the Carpet America Recovery Effort. Most of these centers will charge from 5 to 25 cents a pound to recycle your carpet.

4. Reuse it. Use bits and pieces of your old rug or carpeting in different areas throughout your house. Get creative! No matter how damaged it is, there's a surprising amount of uses for the carpet you thought you'd have to shove into your trash can:

-Use old carpeting to cover cat furniture, or turn into cat scratchers.

-Use as insulation for small spaces, including pipes, attics, dog houses, or even your compost heap (heat helps the composting process in winter)!

-Use as a weed suppressant in gardens. Place under gravel or bark to create a new, weed-free pathway.

-If there's a larger undamaged piece that can be salvaged, try cutting a rectangle for a new welcome mat or kneeling pad for the garden.

-If only little bits can be used, try cutting smaller pieces to use for moving heavy furniture, or for an extra-durable scrubbing tool.

Try going green for your next carpet purchase.

Check out some of these well-known brands for great, eco-friendly alternatives:

-Flor: The Flor Fedora line uses 80-percent post consumer fibers. You can also ship old Flor tiles for free to the company's recycling facilities.

-Mohawk: EverStrand carpet fiber is made with PET recycled plastic bottles.

-Shaw: Some of Shaw's lines can be recycled at their Augusta, Georgia facility.

-Milliken: This line's Tesserae carpet tile is made with 33% recycled content.

MORE: Browse the latest home design photos on Houzz