Few chores are more satisfying than a whole-home decluttering. Clearing out the excess and deep cleaning neglected corners get your home looking better than it has in years. Unfortunately, it also produces a lot of waste. Rather than sending your old stuff to the landfill, follow these tips for eco-conscious decluttering.
1. Donate Instead of Throwing Away
Throwing stuff out is the easiest option. All you have to do is drop your stuff at the curb, call the city for large items and wait for them to disappear. Unfortunately, it’s also the option with the biggest environmental impact. If you want to divert waste from the landfill and be a little more eco-conscious, donate items in good condition to local thrift stores and nonprofits instead. Here are some common places to donate household goods:
- Thrift stores for clothing, books, toys, housewares and recreation equipment.
- Secondhand building supply stores for building materials, large appliances, fixtures, and lawn and garden supplies).
- Animal shelters for towels, sheets, and blankets.
If you’re unable to donate an item, whether because you can’t find a place to accept it or it’s too large to transport, try to give it away before throwing it out. You can find people seeking free household goods through Craigslist, the Buy Nothing Project and Freecycle groups. If you don’t get any takers, move onto step two.
2. Recycle What Can’t Be Donated
Not everything is appropriate for donation. If an item is broken or you simply can’t find takers, seek ways to recycle it instead. Most cities have recycling programs for large appliances, electronics and other hazardous household waste to keep these items out of landfills where they contribute to pollution. Learn from the EPA what constitutes hazardous household waste and contact your city’s waste management department to learn the best way to recycle or dispose of these items.
3. Think Twice Before You Buy
Once your home is decluttered, you’ll want to keep it that way. However, if you shop on impulse rather than planning your purchases, it won’t be long until your closets are overflowing with clutter again. To stop accumulating stuff only to throw it out, avoid impulse shopping and maintain your eco-conscious lifestyle by buying quality items that are designed to last. For example, LED light bulbs are more expensive than CFL bulbs, but they last for years. In the long-term, that means cost savings and less trash headed for the landfill. Lifehacker names other products you should spend more on to buy quality.
4. Take Collections Digital
Your photo albums, record collections, and books hold a special place in your heart. Unfortunately, they also take up a lot of space in your home and require natural resources to produce. For a conservation-minded approach, opt for digital versions instead. E-books, digital photos, and music files require fewer resources to create and store than their physical counterparts. Go ahead and scan your existing photo collections too; while it doesn’t eliminate the waste of printed photographs, digitizing photos ensures your memories are preserved for years to come.
5. Use Green Cleaning Supplies
Once your home is clutter-free, the next step is to clean it up. Depending on which cleaning products you choose, this chore could have an environmental impact of its own. Rather than relying on cleaners that release volatile organic chemicals into the air, be eco-conscious and make your own simple household cleaners using safe ingredients like vinegar and baking soda. While investing in cleaning tools, consider picking up a high-quality vacuum. Save yourself the hassle of having to constantly change vacuum bags and invest in a bagless model. Make sure to research reviews before making a purchase.
The choices you make at home don’t just affect your family. When you mindlessly throw things away or buy cheap products that only last a season before they break, you’re harming the environment, too. Thankfully, there’s a better way. Follow these rules as you declutter and clean your home for a clean home without the dirty ecological footprint.
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