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How To Sustainably Clean Out Your Home

Photo credit by Unsplash

By Alice Robertson

If you’re tired of looking at piles of stuff and have decided it’s time to make a change, a deep cleaning and decluttering could be just the thing you need. Of course, decluttering your home is always a good idea, but did you know that you could do it in an environmentally friendly way? According to BudgetDumpster.com, the U.S. is the biggest producer of municipal solid waste (that is, what goes in your trash) in the world and more than 50 percent of that trash goes to landfills.

What if you could help reduce that burden? As you start your decluttering process, the following tips can help you to cut down on the junk in your home while still doing your part for the environment.

 

Recycling Big Items

You can have some of these items hauled away, but there are more Earth-friendly options if you don’t want them to end up in landfill:

  • Go Digital: Embrace the cloud: If you want to free up storage space, Allstate recommends you to reduce paper and scan your sentimental photos and awards to your computer.
  • Sell: If you have furniture to get rid of and it’s in reasonably good condition, you can refinish, paint or reupholster it and sell it online at eBay or Etsy.
  • Recycle: There’s a recycling center for just about anything, including old mattresses, which clog up our landfills at an alarming rate. However, they are more complicated to recycle. According to Earth911, some stores will recycle mattresses, but if that won’t work, you can search this recycling database to find a center near you.
  • Donate: When you don’t have time for a yard sale and you need to get rid of an item that’s in perfectly good condition, donating it is the best route. You get to free up space and someone else has a lucky find. Give your items a thorough once-over. If anything is ripped, torn, stained or damaged in any way, it’s not a good candidate for donations. Think of it this way: if you deem it trash, someone else probably will too.

 

Recycling Broken Technology

Most people don’t know that it’s unsafe to throw out most electronic items, appliances and batteries. If you have a stack of old technology you need to get rid of, here’s how to handle these items:

  • Batteries: Proper battery disposal depends on the type of battery. Learn what to do from this guide provided by Duracell.
  • Appliances: According to Consumer Reports, you may be able to get appliances hauled away when you buy a new one. Many companies participate in the Responsible Appliance Disposal Program, which is run by the Environmental Protection Agency. This program makes sure that appliance components are safely trashed or recycled.
  • Technology Products: Save any other products for a local community “e-cycling” event, where unused technology such as old computers or smartphones are collected for donation. Alternatively, Mashable has a list of five charities that accept used electronics.

 

Green Cleaning

Once you’ve organized and successfully decluttered, it’s time for a thorough deep cleaning. Not only can this give you a great foundation for keeping your house sparkling, but it will also make you feel accountable for keeping up with it. Keep in mind you’ll want to make sure you use green and environmentally safe cleaning products. There are a few tips you should know:

  • Toxic Ingredients Are Hazardous: The EPA states that volatile components of cleaning products and ingredients like phosphorus and nitrogen can get rinsed down the drain and pose a threat to our water. Avoiding these chemicals is the safest course of action.
  • Simple Is Best: White vinegar, baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, and perhaps a hint of essential oils are excellent and safe supplies for much of your cleaning needs.
  • Don’t Believe Everything You Read: “Greenwashing” is a term used to describe products that advertise themselves as “green” but actually contain toxic substances. Do your homework to learn what products are touting nonexistent green creds.

 

Taking the time to tackle the mess and clutter and giving your home a deep clean can leave you with a strong sense of satisfaction, particularly if your efforts line up with environmentally-friendly practices. It will feel like a lot of work upfront, but once you’re done, it will feel amazing to enjoy your clean home and knowing you’ve done your part to help the planet.