Reduce your Footprint: Ways to Make your Spring Clean and Green
As the weather gets warmer and the skies clear up, the remnants of winter days become noticeable. Cobwebs on the ceiling, dust bunnies on the floor, and sludge on glass windows make our homes look dowdy. It's time to use some elbow grease and spring clean our homes.
The first step to spring-cleaning is de-cluttering our homes of all the things we've accumulated in the past year. Thinking about dumping all the junk on the curb for disposal makes any spring cleaning task become a guilt-ridden activity.
Who knows how many people out there can still use the things that we call rubbish? As people say, "One man's junk is another man's treasure."
To keep spring-cleaning guilt at bay (and help reduce our carbon footprint), we can adopt green methods to make our homes clean and organized.
Donate Old Clothes and Other Belongings to Charity
- Clothes that no longer fit and have seen better days don't need to end up in landfills.
- Give away baby clothes to relatives or friends who have a new addition to their family.
- By de-cluttering the closet, you not only free up valuable space, you also get to help people in need.
A homeless shelter or daycare center can benefit a lot from the old clothes. Check your local community for the nearest religious organization, Goodwill, or Salvation Army office. Make sure that the charity is 501(c)(3) registered so that you can also get a tax receipt.
Check Out Mail-Back Programs for Recycling
Mail-back programs are great for disposing old products like batteries, small electronics, and the like. All you need to do is send your stuff via mail and the recycling companies will do the rest. Note that there are certain fees involved (usually shipping related) in this kind of program and special packaging instructions that you need to follow.
Some home improvement stores will recycle light bulbs for you but they must be unbroken.
By sending your e-waste and other household products to recyclers, you help in reducing the amount of garbage that end up in landfills. In addition, some of the products we use at home contain hazardous chemicals and we are unequipped in disposing them the right way. Throwing them over fire could lead to serious damage to property and lives.
Hold a Yard Sale
When you want to make extra money out of your junk, yard sales are your best bet. Make an inventory of the items that you want to put up on sale and make sure that they are classified accordingly. If you don't have time to hold a physical yard sale, try a virtual one. Post the items on sites like Craigslist or eBay and wait for customers to make an offer. In the meantime, pack them up in labeled boxes and store them in the garage, basement, or attic.
You can save a lot of money by putting some ingenuity to work and reusing common household products:
- Cut up old clothes into smaller pieces and use them as cleaning rags. You can also sew the smaller pieces together to make quilts, table runners, and pillowcases.
- Glass bottles can be reused several times. Use old glass bottles as candle holders or vases.
- Baby food jars and other small glass bottles make great containers for spices, homemade sauces, condiments. You can also use them to store trinkets, office supplies (like paper clips and staples), and nuts and bolts.
- Polish your shoes and scrub bathroom tiles with old toothbrushes.
- Re-purpose old mouse pads by cutting them into circles to serve as door and appliance stoppers.
- Cut up Styrofoam to make creative craft items. You can also use it as container for jewelry and other small items.
- Paper can be recycled into many different things -- bags, paper-mâché stationery, or gift wrappers. Use old envelopes for storing receipts and coupons or for writing your grocery list. Use shredded paper to store fragile items like china, vases, and special glass ornaments.
- Convert old, worn-out tires into garden containers or a children's swing.
- Transform egg cartons into seedling and golf ball containers. Use toilet paper tubes for craft projects.
Use Natural Cleaning Products
Although there are plenty of commercial-grade cleansers that do the job, most of them contain harsh chemicals that are harmful to the environment and to health. You can find alternative items in your kitchen that work just as well as store-bought cleansers. Vinegar and baking soda are very good in removing stains and nasty smells at home.
Do your share in protecting the environment by minimizing contribution to landfills. You'll be surprised at how much of the items in our homes are recyclable. All it takes is a little creativity, some imagination, and a bit of patience. Happy (green) spring cleaning!
Living in the San Francisco Bay Area is perfect for her because she has a wide range of interests, including Art & Design, Fashion, Photography, Painting and Thrift Store Shopping.
Image courtesy of Andrew Morrell, CC BY-ND Flickr.