Today we are sharing our first ever "guest article" for the blog and I'm excited to introduce Alice Robertson and how she can help us declutter our homes. She began her career in the home organization industry as a professional house cleaner, which involved a LOT of decluttering. Over the years, she has helped her clients get rid of everything from old mattresses, to outdated electronics, to entire closets worth of clothes. Luckily, we don’t have to haul it off to the dump anymore. There’s a way to recycle just about everything! Below is her article that can help all of us get geared up for Spring cleaning!
It Starts in the Home: Tips for Responsible Decluttering and Cleaning
It’s not too much of a stretch to argue that clutter in the home leads to a cluttered and polluted environment. Think of all the clothing, electronics, and appliances that get sent to the landfill and the toxic fluids in garages that make their way (either intentionally or unintentionally) into waterways and groundwater supplies. It’s human nature to want to throw stuff away and forget about it. However, the cost of doing so indiscriminately and without consideration for the natural world is too high. Decluttering in an environmentally friendly way is fairly simple; it just takes some thought and enough presence of mind to dispose of your junk responsibly.
Household appliances and furniture eventually wear out, and when they do, they present a real headache when it comes to disposing of them. Check with your local retailer about appliance and electronics buyback programs that will let you earn money or store credit in exchange for recycling that old refrigerator, dishwasher, or stereo equipment. In some communities, electric utility companies will pay you to get rid of old and inefficient appliances.
If your old appliances still work, contact local homeless shelters or facilities for orphaned or abused children, which are always looking for inexpensive equipment. The same goes for old furniture that’s still usable. The donation is a humanitarian and environmentally responsible way to get rid of items that can’t go to the landfill because they represent an environmental threat.
Textiles represent an enormous amount of landfill overflow. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, more than 10 million of the estimated 15 million tons of textile waste ends up in landfills. Only about 2 million tons is recycled, and that’s a problem considering that the average American household throws out about 80 pounds of used clothing annually.
Instead of tossing it in the garbage, donate clothing to local charities or take it to a consignment store where you may earn a little money for your trouble. Or, you can take it to one of the textile recycling centers that are becoming increasingly available in communities nationwide. The Council for Textile Recycling and Secondary Materials and Recycled Textiles can help you find recycling facilities in your area.
Cleaning the ‘Green’ Way
Once you’ve finally decluttered and gotten rid of all the excess junk in your home, it’s time to give the place a good scrubbing and disinfecting. With all those old appliances and boxes out of the way, you might as well take advantage of an opportunity that doesn’t come along very often. Make a clean start by opting for natural substances like baking soda (you can purchase a 2-lb bag for $1.59), vinegar, and lemon juice, each of which can be used for many household cleaning projects, from cleaning grout to eliminating unpleasant household odors.
Today, it’s much easier to find environmentally friendly cleaning products, from reusable paper towels to cleaning fluids that use natural enzymes instead of harmful chemicals. Look for products that don’t contain volatile organic compounds and toxic substances such as formaldehyde. If dirty carpets are a problem, consider purchasing a commercial-strength vacuum cleaner capable of getting up large amounts of debris and hair. It’ll save time that would otherwise be wasted trying to do the job with a less powerful residential vacuum. If you want a really thorough cleaning, consider hiring a one-time cleaning service. In the Oklahoma City area, the cost of hiring maid services ranges from $83 - $193.
Whether you’re overloaded with old photos and documents or digital pictures, you can make space in your home or on your computer by digitally decluttering and uploading them to the cloud, where they’ll be secure and easily accessible. Take stock of all those family snapshots and you’ll probably find that some of them are in pretty bad shape. Scanning and uploading them will simplify your life and make it much easier to stay organized.
Decluttering is an excellent way to organize your home and get back to basics, but getting rid of that stuff comes with responsibility. So, emphasize recycling, donating, and eco-friendly cleaning materials and methods as you go about the arduous task of decluttering.
Image courtesy of Pixabay