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Be Green: Eniviromently Friendly Tips to Make you Spring Clean Green

Posted Mar 09 2012 4:38am

Springtime is just around the corner and it’s time to take on the most challenging activity of the season: spring cleaning. This task isn’t just about scouring and gutting out your home of clutter. It’s also about knowing how to properly dispose items you don’t need and make sure to leave as little carbon footprint as possible.

Before you strip the entire house clean, take a moment to check if there’s anything that you could re-use, sell, or donate. Doing so lessens the need to fill garbage bins with unwanted items. Here are some ideas to try.

Reduce Your Clutter

The best way to go about this is to use the dump-and-sort method. Go through the items that you never (or rarely) use. Check your closets, shelves, and drawers for stuff that you can toss out or donate. It helps to have at least two big boxes with you, so that you can separate recyclable items from the ones that you need to dispose.

Re-purpose Household Items

You may have accumulated a surplus of miscellaneous items over the years and you don’t know what to do with them. Instead of dumping them all into the trash bin, check and see if you can turn them into re-purposed organizers.

Empty gourmet baskets, canisters, glass jars and bottles make excellent containers for corralling clutter. Clean thoroughly, decorate if you wish, and use them to stash remote controls, jewelry, or loose buttons.

Go natural

Spring cleaning is hard without our ever-trusted cleaning products. You may not enjoy it, but there’s no better way to get those stubborn stains than good old fashioned elbow grease. Unfortunately, most store-bought cleaners are filled with toxic ingredients that are hazardous to our health as well as the environment.

Homemade cleaning solutions are great alternatives; you only need to rummage through your pantry. Douse stain-filled kitchen counters with vinegar solution or lemon juice. Remove grime and molds on bathroom tiles with baking soda and water. If you need to disinfect your home, mix liquid soap with water and add a few drops of tea tree oil instead of bleach.

Resurrect old clothes

Threadbare garments don’t need to end up in landfills. Even the most tattered of clothing can be revived into fashionable items. With a little bit of creativity, you can reconstruct old clothing into new pieces. Your friends might even wonder if you’ve had a wardrobe overhaul.

Never mind if your fashion crafts are nowhere near designer reconstructed outfits — you can still make a difference in the environment and in your wardrobe by taking old clothing and sewing them to make new accessories. You can turn tank top into totes or headbands, T-shirts into pillowcases or quilts, and jeans into purses or clutch bags. If you can’t be bothered, cut them into medium-sized squares and use them as dust cloths.

Donate slightly used items

If you’ve grown an inch taller (or a pound or two heavier), you know that it’s time to let go of old clothing to give way to an updated wardrobe. Donate old clothing to a charity organization like Salvation Army or Good Will. In addition, you can also donate other items from your home. Other people in need can benefit from old toys and stuffed animals, mattresses, books, cookware, appliances and even eyeglasses.

Do a home energy audit

Poor insulation, water and air leaks add up to your energy bill, not to mention reduce energy efficiency. When spring cleaning, examine your home for any signs of deterioration. The smallest damage can affect the heating and cooling capacity of your home and lead to a spike in your energy bill. A DIY inspection would suffice if you know what to look for, but a professional assessment will greatly help in saving you thousands of dollars in the end.

Reduce paper use

Catalogs, billing statements, magazines, and newspaper account for the majority of paper waste in America. Minimize your carbon footprint by going paperless and put a stop to your subscriptions by opting for online newsletters.

Check if your bills can be viewed and paid online to reduce the mounting paper bills at home and cut back on gas consumption. Instead of using paper towels when wiping off dirt on counters, walls and floors, use microfiber cloths or one of your old shirts.

Spring cleaning shouldn’t just help you keep clutter at bay; it should also be eco-friendly. To save you time and money, keep only what’s necessary and let go of the things that you don’t really need.

Jessica Phan is a designer for Balsamhill.com a purveyor of high-end artificial Christmas Trees . Living in the San Francisco Bay Area is perfect for her because she has a wide range of interests, including Art & Design, Fashion, Photography, Painting and Thrift Store Shopping.

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