Now is the time of year when many households go through the annual purge known as spring cleaning. It’s an opportunity to clear out the clutter and make your space fresh and ready for the sunny, summer months. But it’s also a task that typically results in a big pile of stuff without a home – unworn clothes, miscellaneous household objects, and all sorts of other things you just don’t need anymore. But how do you get rid of it in a way that’s in line with your overall lifestyle goals of low-waste and sustainability? That’s what we’re going to cover in this article.
The Benefit of Getting Rid of Unused Stuff
A neat and tidy space is aesthetically pleasing, but it’s also good for your mental well-being. Without clutter and chaos, you’ll feel calmer and less stressed. And when you don’t have old, it’s a lot easier to enjoy the items you do use on a regular basis. Keep these goals in mind when purging and organizing.
The Decluttering Mindset
Have you ever decided that you’re going to organize the junk drawer, only to open it and say to yourself, “I probably need everything in there” and leave it in the exact same state? You’re not alone. The prospect of imposing order on messy spaces can feel overwhelming. The pro-tip to getting past that sort of hesitancy is to actually hold every object individually in your hands and ask yourself if you use, need, or want it. Sometimes the answer isn’t clear, especially when there’s sentimental value attached to the object. In those instances, ask yourself if it brings you joy, and let that answer guide your decision to keep it or let it go. Go through your entire home room-by-room with this approach.
What Should You Do With All Your Old Stuff?
Once you’ve gone through the closets, garage, attic, basement, drawers, and every other space in which stuff tends to accumulate, and you’ve decided what you’re going to get rid of, now it’s time to decide how to get rid of it. Typically, you’ll have three options: throw it away, recycle it, or find it a new home. You’d be surprised how many creative ways there are to accomplish the latter. Let’s look at a few re-homing options.
If you have things that are still usable, such as household items or clothing that no longer fits, take it to a local thrift or second-hand store. When you’re there, make a mental note of everything else you see in the store, just in case you have other items at home that you no longer need but didn’t consider donating.
Thrift stores can also be a good resource for discovering other donation options in your area. There are many organizations that accept various specialty items for reuse. Some optical shops and the Lion’s Club collect eyeglasses for reuse. There are many charitable groups that collect used cell phones and make them available to victims of domestic violence, the homeless, and others in need.
And if you have oversized items such as appliances, furniture, building materials, and even old cars, those can all be donated, too. Some charities will even pick up the items for you if you call and make the request.
Those are just a few of the many, many ways in which you can donate. In short, if something is still usable, someone else can probably still use it — and that’s a much better outcome than adding more trash to the landfill.
Once an object does reach the end of its usefulness to you, recycling is the next best option. Many people live in communities that collect glass, plastic, cardboard, and newspaper, but there are so many more materials that can be recycled. Glass jars, old tires, carpet, or even scrap metal can all be recycled.
Contact your local recycling center and ask for the complete list of approved and non-approved items. Sometimes, certain items are picked up at specific times during the year, so make sure you add those dates to your calendar so you can be prepared once they come. There’s nothing worse than preparing a pile of refuse for donation, only to realize Donation Day was last week — and the next is six months away.
If your objects have some life left and there’s a market for them, consider selling them and putting a little extra money in your pocket! Both neighborhood and individual garage sales are a great way to turn your unused items into cash. And if you don’t want to hold a traditional garage sale, online communities like Facebook are an easy way to connect with buyers right in your area.
Another way to get rid of unwanted items is to upcycle them, or repurpose them into something new. For example, that old t-shirt from the 2007 company picnic has seen better days, but it could be cut up and used as cleaning rags. An old toothbrush can find new life as a household scrubber for hard-to-reach spots. An old blanket could be new bedding for your pet. And just about any interesting-looking container can be a garden planter. The possibilities are endless.
Do you have grass clippings or other yard waste? Start a compost pile. It’s an environmentally friendly way to get rid of plant material and food waste, which comprises a large share of the trash humans generate. Plus, you can use the compost to make your lawn or garden bloom.
Throw It Away
Eventually, everything reaches the end of the line. If neither your nor anyone else can use something, it might be time to throw it away. Just make sure it’s appropriate for the trash. If your items contain hazardous waste like pesticides or paint, it can’t be recycled or tossed in the trash. Properly dispose of such waste at your local environmental collections center. Additionally, old and unused medication should be taken to a pharmacy, where it can be safely disposed of. Many local law enforcement agencies also sponsor the National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, which provides another way to safely discard your medicine.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle – & Throw Away Only When Necessary!
Taking care of the planet is a responsibility we all share. Whether it’s using renewable sources of energy, reducing our carbon footprint, or making sure we’re phasing out our belongings in the most ecologically friendly way possible, there’s no question that an attitude of “less mess” is fundamental to folks who like to do things the right way — especially here in Texas!
Hopefully, you can use these tips to get creative with taking care of your stuff after spring cleaning – instead of throwing it in the trash.