Healthy Nurse, Healthy Nation™ Blog - 8 Eco-Friendly Ways To Declutter 4304

Healthy Nurse, Healthy Nation™ Blog - 8 Eco-Friendly Ways To Declutter



Living and working in a clutter-free environment is important for your well-being. And our Clear the Clutter Challenge is the perfect 10-day roadmap for decluttering both your physical and mental space. But what do you do with the clutter afterwards? Do you throw it in boxes, stack those in your trunk, and drive them to the local landfill?

You could do this, but it’s not an eco-friendly option. Even if you choose to donate your unwanted items to consignment shops that resell them, your donation could sit in a warehouse for weeks or months. And it might eventually get thrown away. If it does make it to store shelves, there’s still no guarantee it’ll sell.

If you want to be more environmentally conscious, know your options. One person’s clutter is another person’s treasure — you’ve just got to know what do to with it.

Know what you can recycle
As you declutter your home or workspace, you may be tempted to load up your unwanted items, ditch them at the local landfill, then mark your task complete. That’s not the best way. In fact, there are certain items that you can’t dump at a landfill. Some products can harm the environment, so they must be disposed of properly or recycled.

Examples of items you should take to a recycling center or hazardous waste site (instead of a landfill) include:
  • Unwanted paint or leftover household hazardous waste
  • Light bulbs
  • Smoke alarms
  • Small and large appliances
  • Outdoor power equipment
  • Electronics like computers or televisions
  • Office supplies

If you’re unsure about where to take unused paint or hazardous waste, you can:
  • Donate unused paint to organizations like the Habitat for Humanity ReStore, local theaters, charities, or community centers.
  • Take oil-based paint to the hazardous waste facility in your city or county.
  • Attend a local hazardous waste drop-off event. Cities often host them at least once a year.
  • See if PaintCare.Org has a take-back program in your area. It’s available to residents of California, Colorado, Connecticut, Maine, Minnesota, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington, D.C.

Have a garage sale
One way to turn clutter into cash is by hosting a garage or yard sale. You can get rid of unwanted items, make money, and do the environment no harm. It’s the ideal scenario!

The jury is out on the best time of year to have a garage/yard sale, with some sources saying fall and others saying spring. Regardless of the season, Fridays and Saturdays are the best days, and the beginning of the month (when most people get paid) is ideal. If your town does a city-wide garage sale, choose that same date to capitalize on the free advertising and increased traffic.

For the most successful sale possible, follow these tips:
  • See if your city requires a permit for hosting a garage sale. Check your city’s website or call your local city hall.
  • Use pricing sheets instead of individual price stickers — make the sheet visible (and understandable) for buyers.
  • Advertise your sale on social media, in your local newspaper, and on garage sale websites
  • Post easy-to-read garage/yard sale signs in front of your home and on both ends of your street (or at the entrance to your neighborhood).
  • Give yourself plenty of time to set up. Make larger items (e.g., furniture, appliances, electronics, and baby equipment) visible from the road.
  • Hang clothes so they’re easy to browse.

Sell online
If you can’t host a garage sale or have items leftover from your sale, sell them online. This is a convenient, easy, and popular way to financially benefit from all the decluttering you’ve been doing — and it’s eco-friendly!

If you use social media platforms like Facebook, take some photos and post your items (with a short description and price) on Facebook Marketplace. Make sure to specify if you’re willing to ship the item farther distances or offer local pick-up only. Many people also state in the description if they’re willing to help transport the item to the seller, meet at a neutral location, or only allow porch pick-up.

Here are a few other platforms for selling items online:
Donate to charities
Your unwanted items might be fresh and exciting to someone else, especially those who can’t afford to purchase brand new items. Donating unwanted goods to a local charity is a fantastic way to remove your clutter and avoid the landfill.

From clothing and shoes to furniture and pet supplies, there are plenty of organizations who would take your gently used items. Make sure they’re still in good condition (no stains, major flaws, or broken pieces) before you donate. Also, it’s a smart idea to contact the charity before donating — sometimes they require scheduling a donation drop-off in advance.

Here are a few places you could take clothing, shoes, handbags, household goods, toys, pet supplies, and more:
Fix what’s broken instead of replacing it
Do you rush to the store and replace anything when it breaks or gets damaged? This reaction isn't always necessary. Simple fixes can save a lot of money and prevent items from going to the landfill. In many cases, you can fix these types of items instead of buying new:
  • Appliances
  • Furniture
  • Handbags and purses
  • Jewelry
  • Linens
  • Stuffed animals
  • Sweaters and other clothing
  • Tools

Remember that fixing broken items depends on your resourcefulness — not everyone can fix an appliance, after all. But hiring a repairman to replace a broken baking unit in your oven is much more eco-friendly than trashing it and dashing to the store to buy an entirely new one.

Give away items
Do you think someone could use your unwanted items, but you don’t want to charge them? Giving your goods away for free is a great option. There are many people who would take your gently used items off your hands — like the teenager going away to college who needs furniture for his apartment, or the single parent who lives paycheck-to-paycheck.

Try any of these resources to give away unwanted items for free:
  • Local “Buy Nothing” Facebook groups
  • Friends and family
  • Neighbors
  • Coworkers
  • Social media connections
  • Civic organizations
  • Places of worship

Reduce what you bring into your home
If you're just going to buy more stuff, what's the point of decluttering? If you truly want to be more environmentally conscious, you’ve got to nix the clutter at the source: the store. A great rule of thumb to keep in mind is the BUD method:
  • Buy only what you need.
  • Use everything you purchase.
  • Dispose of the rest in the most eco-friendly way.

We already know that leading a cleaner, less cluttered life is healthier. And yes, Americans love shopping. But that doesn’t mean you can’t be more mindful of what you purchase. Try to get into the habit of pausing before making a purchase to consider if it’s something you need (and something you will use more than once.) Take a day or 2 to think about big purchases and do your best to avoid knee-jerk reactions to sales and online advertisements. Self-control and mindfulness are key!

Avoid the landfill
As easy as sending your unwanted goods to the dump may sound, it should be a last resort. Landfills serve an important purpose, but they’re quickly filling up. Every year, humans generate more than 2 billion tons of solid trash across the globe — enough to fill more than 800,000 Olympic-sized pools.

Decluttering your physical space is a nice first step, but the clutter has to go somewhere, and sending your items to the dump is not your only option. Instead, try any (or all) of the above ideas to deal with your clutter. Donating, selling, repurposing, reusing, and recycling are all fantastic ways to avoid the landfill and make a positive impact on the earth.

Creating sustainable and eco-friendly decluttering habits looks different from person to person. If you’re managing to make one change — no matter how small — mark it down as a win. When we add up every small act, it creates a big impact on the environment. And the more you do, the better our world is.

Are you joining us for the Clear the Clutter Challenge beginning January 23? We’d love to have you. Sign up here.


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Blog Quality of Life 01/03/2023 4:20pm CST

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