Spring Cleaning is a Green Thing to Do

Spring cleaning is a green thing to do. A thorough house cleaning and eliminating unnecessary stuff contribute to a healthy living environment.

In our household, it doesn’t necessarily take place annually or in the spring. That doesn’t mean we don’t clean, we do, but not always in the traditional spring cleaning sense. My announcement “I’m starting spring cleaning,” is often met with fear and dismay by my family. Will they be asked to do more chores or to give away a cherished computer game or tool that hasn’t been used in 3 years?

The Process

Review and Negotiation

Last year, I started spring cleaning in July. My oldest son was moving, my youngest was going away to college, and two of my dear friends from out of state were visiting in the fall. My sons were uninterested in going through their stuff but they did. I knew my friends wouldn’t care if I cleaned house or not, but I didn’t think they would object to a clean house either. My spouse bore the brunt of it and was constantly being asked if we really needed that serving bowl or 5 shovels.

The kitchen seems to be the room with the most stuff, so that is where I started. Eventually, I ended in the garage. I would open a drawer or cupboard, take everything out, clean it, and then evaluate the items to see if there was anything we didn’t need. I would consult the appropriate family member(s) as to whether it was needed or not, always being careful to say they could keep whatever they wanted. But then I would ask if they/we really really needed it. If it was released I would put it in a pile in the kitchen.

 Decisions

The pile started getting big so we needed to start making decisions about what to do with specific items.

  • Trash: Broken, worn out, un-repairable, un-recyclable, or items that it seemed unlikely anyone would want or use went in the trash. If they were toxic (paint) or electronic waste (ancient computer monitor) we set them aside.
  • Recycle Bin: Broken, worn out, un-repairable but recyclable items went in the recycle bin.
  • Donation: unwanted and unneeded items in gently used good condition were sorted for donation. Minor repairs were made, like sewing a missing button on a pair of shorts that had been outgrown.
Parting

Donation BoxThe donation items were packed up in various boxes and I made a list for tax return purposes (I’m not opposed to a deduction). I searched on the Internet and found an organization that accepted the wide variety of items we had amassed including Christmas decorations (I found that to be rare in our area).

We had so many boxes we had to rent a trailer to transport our donations to the collection center. They seemed happy to see us and accepted everything except…an older model TV in perfect working condition. They said too many people tried to slough off broken TV’s on them so they had stopped taking them. Luckily we found our farmer’s market offered a monthly electronic recycle program (unfortunately we haven’t gotten around to taking our TV to it yet).

The Aftermath

The whole process took several months. At the end, our house had been cleaned top to bottom, and we had relieved ourselves of a lot of unnecessary items some of which hopefully found happy homes with people who did need/want them.

This process started me thinking more about stuff and one thing led to the next…but that is another story.

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Author: Linda Poppenheimer

Linda researches and writes about environmental topics to share information, spark conversation, and convince people to take action to keep earth habitable for all. She believes our individual actions do matter—it all adds up.

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