Recycle and Renew: Tips for Eco-Friendly Decluttering

Recycle and Renew: Tips for Eco-Friendly Decluttering

This is a guest article courtesy of Alice Robertson with

Life’s stressful enough. The last thing you need is to feel like you don’t have control of your own environment, a common side effect of living in a cluttered house. A busy life makes it difficult to keep up with the gradual accumulation of stuff. The impact on one’s psyche is insidious: Junk mail and loose papers just keep piling up, leaving you with a vague feeling of discomfort you can’t quite put your finger on.

Maybe you’re too tired or busy to cope with all the stuff. Maybe your leisure time is so precious and hard to come by you’re reluctant to take time away from it to clean. Whatever the reason, the only sure way to feel better about your space is to get rid of all that clutter. When you do, bear in mind that your “stuff” enters the natural environment—one way or another—so think eco-friendly as you clean and declutter.


Closet Clutter

Overstuffed closets are a common feature of a cluttered and disorganized home. It’s human nature to toss an old pair of shoes you don’t know what to do with into the closet, where they’re out of sight and out of mind. The bad news is that closet hoarding is habit-forming and contributes to a cluttered household by overloading an important asset in the fight against clutter.

Unfortunately, most people declutter their closets by throwing out all that clothing. It’s estimated that 85 percent of discarded clothing winds up in landfills. Instead, drop off old clothing items at Goodwill, Salvation Army or a consignment store. If you’re feeling philanthropic, why not take it all to a homeless shelter? Depending on its condition, old clothes can be a source of income if you sell it on eBay or hold a yard sale.


Fridge Clutter

It’s probably not the first thing that comes to mind when one thinks about clutter, but the refrigerator may be one of the most cluttered spaces in your home. Leftovers seem to multiply on their own and, before you know it, there’s so much stuff in there that removing a dish or Tupperware container could bring the whole mess down on your head. When you get around to tossing out all of the expired and foul-smelling items, pay attention to containers and separate those that can be recycled. Glass jars, margarine tubs and yogurt containers can all be recycled—just take a minute or two to rinse them out and place in your recycling bin.


What’s in the Garage?

It may not affect you on a daily basis but all the pieces of old wood, tools, sporting equipment, old tires, and stuff in the garage you don’t even recognize is definitely clutter. It’s a different kind of clutter, and there are probably substances that can’t just be tossed into the garbage can. Old paint, lawnmower gas cans and lacquer are flammable and poison the environment so be careful to take them to a hazardous waste drop-off facility. Hoses and many kinds of plastic yard toys are made of a kind of plastic that can’t be recycled and should go into the trash.


The Big Stuff

You can also dispose of furniture and electric appliances in an eco-friendly way. Some appliance merchants may belong to a recycling or donation program that allows you to give away old, worn out appliances. Or, look for a local recycler who will haul electric appliances away for free.


Mattress Waste

Look for a bedding recycling facility in your area that will take old mattresses and other bedding materials. Look for a recycling program that offers bulk waste collection or a hauling company that takes mattresses away for recycling. Don’t let your old mattress become one of the 20 million mattresses that end up in landfills each year. Look for ways to recycle or refurbish your old mattress the next time you upgrade to a new one.


Go Digital

Feeling guilty about throwing out those pictures from Christmas 1997? Next time, why not scan and upload them to the cloud? Considering how many photos some people hang onto, this is a great way to resolve a major source of clutter.


Green Cleaning

Be aware that those commercial cleaning sprays and fluids you’ve used for years are harmful to the environment. Instead, look for cleaning products made from natural ingredients or try cleaning with baking soda or vinegar, which can be just as effective as most industrial cleaners.

The next time you clean, try thinking about decluttering your home in a different way. Rather than tossing things in the trash without a second thought, make separate piles for recycling. It’s time to learn about environmentally friendly cleaning materials that are safe for your home and Mother Nature.

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