With the coming of Spring and St. Patrick’s Day right around the corner, I have had green on my mind today. In the spirit of all of this green I thought I would share with you some reasons why I think getting your home organized is one of the most “green” things you can do for yourself and your family. Below are five environmentally friendly things that I think can easily be incorporated into the organizing process.
1. Unused Items Donated or Sold for Reuse
As you go through all of the items in your home, you will very likely find at least some, if not a ton, of stuff that no one in your family has a use for any longer. Whether they are books never to be re-read, clothes that no longer fit anyone, toys that have passed their glory days, random household items that no longer fit your home or your taste, or that horrible gift that you received for your birthday 2 years ago from your Great Aunt Marge who will NEVER know if you kept it or not. The list of potential items goes on and on. You may decide to pass these goods on to a friend with younger kids, or to sell them in a garage sale, or to simply donate them to a charitable organization. The environmentally friendly choice you are making here is to NOT put them in the trash, and ultimately a landfill. Unknown to a lot of people, when you donate textile items to Goodwill Industries International, Inc. you are especially ensuring they stay out of landfills. Those clothes and textiles that are not in decent enough shape to sell, or otherwise do not sell, ultimately get sent to aftermarket textile recyclers. Some items are ultimately sent abroad to countries where the demand for second-hand textiles is high, some become polishing and wiping cloths, and some get recycled into fiber to be used in upholstery, insulation, and furniture stuffing. Click here to read more about how Goodwill handles this process. So when you are cleaning out your clothing and linens remember that the items do not need to be re-wearable necessarily. Ratty old towels, ripped sheets, your child’s stained and worn clothing, all can be reused.
2. Recycling of Electronics, Batteries, Lightbulbs, etc.
So many of our homes are drowning in electronics. Some are still in working order, some have made their way to 2nd generation in our children’s hands, but many are dead and useless. Whether they are broken or simply outdated and you have moved on to the next big thing, there are some great local resources for properly disposing of your e-waste. One of my favorite places to take my own e-waste as well as that of my clients is a place called Recycle San Diego. For a complete list of items they accept, either for free or for a fee, click here. Anything that has a plug or takes a battery qualifies. They also take toner cartridges, batteries, and light bulbs. I personally keep a small bin in a cabinet where I collect old batteries (though we have made the switch to rechargeable for all AA and AAA). I also throw dead light bulbs and toner cartridges in the bin. They will even accept old appliances for a fee. Some old computers, laptops, and monitors are disassembled and parts are sold off. Generally, most items are disassembled, separating out the different materials, including plastics, and are recycled and disposed of properly. You will receive a Certificate of Recycling from them showing that they have followed all appropriate means for recycling. Considering how much e-waste accounts for the clutter in our homes and the toxic waste in our landfills, it is extremely important to educate yourself on the proper disposal of these items.
3. Recycling of Unneeded Boxes, Paper, and Plastics
As you clear the clutter from your home you will come across a lot of trash that can be recycled. You will need to check your local curbside recycling program to find out what is acceptable, but for the City of San Diego, click here. You may be surprised by the additions they have made in the last year with regard to what is accepted. Among the recyclable items I most often see are empty cardboard boxes and PAPER. So much for a paper-less society. We are all drowning in it. Magazines, phone books and paper can be recycled curbside, but I do recommended you shred anything that contains: account numbers, birth dates, passwords and pins, signatures, and social security numbers. You may also want to consider shredding anything with your name, address, phone number, or email address. I take shredding to a couple of places: Recycle San Diego and the Goodwill Document Destruction Center. The current price for shredding is $6/box. Another thing I come across a lot when organizing my own home and other homes with children are broken plastic toys. If they take a battery or plug in, they are e-waste, but if not, they can very likely be recycled curbside. Check your local list of acceptable items.
4. Reduced Shopping Trips
Once you have achieved organization in your home, you will find that you actually can take inventory and know what you have. So many times I have heard clients say in frustration upon finding an item, “Oh no! I just bought another one of those because I forgot I already had one.” This is especially important in your kitchen with regard to food and the bathroom with regard to toiletries, but it applies all over the house. Not only does knowing exactly what you have in your home help you to save money on shopping, but you reduce waste by buying less. Not to mention that you will save gas when you don’t have to drive to a store or have something shipped to you.
5. Increased Ability to Get Home Clean
With an organized and simplified space, it is far easier to get into all the nooks and crannies (with your environmentally friendly cleaning products) and clean out all of the dust, mold, and other icky stuff living under your clutter. This greatly affects the quality of your environment. You can take a nice, deep, clean breath of fresh air and be thankful that you have cleared your home and your life of the burden of clutter.
If you are ready to “Green” your home and clear the excess clutter, but all of this recycling seems a bit much, call in for help. Beth Deig of Sorted Nest will help you organize your home, and will haul off your donations, shredding, and e-waste to the proper places at no added charge. Spring is Here! Get Organized Today!