by Alice Robertson
Since the first modern landfill was opened in California in 1937, the United States has changed the way we deal with trash and unwanted household items. However, there is a better way. Instead of being part of the problem, you can be part of the solution by going green in your home decluttering efforts. Through small actions, such as using green cleaners and setting up neighborhood swaps, you can make a big difference in your home and community.
Forget Retail: Sale and Swap
Every American creates, on average, 4.5 pounds each of trash every day. Much of this waste is made up of perfectly usable items, such as clothing, furniture, and appliances. When you have a house full stuff you no longer need, consider setting up a neighborhood swap or hosting a yard sale. A neighborhood swap shop, according to PlanetPals.com, is an excellent way to repurpose tools, food, office and school supplies, and sporting goods. It’s also an opportunity for you to get to know your neighbors and proves that one man’s trash is another’s treasure. Similarly, hosting a garage sale is an excellent way for you to turn your belongings into cash. Money Crashers’ offers advice on organizing a successful garage sale.
In addition to your overall decluttering efforts, you can keep chemicals and nonbiodegradable plastics to a minimum by utilizing green cleaning techniques. Homemade cleaners, such as these from Good Housekeeping, are non-toxic and utilize common kitchen staples, including vinegar, lemon juice, and baking soda. A maid service, which costs between $117 and $225 in the San Francisco area, can help you tackle the initial interior cleaning. Discuss with your preferred service provider ahead of time your insistence on natural products.
When You Can’t Reuse, Recycle
There are untold billions of pounds of perfectly recyclable goods clogging up both landfills and the ocean right now. Aside from metal, plastic, and glass, you can recycle paper and cardboard, lightbulbs, batteries, and electronics. Waste Management reports that 29 percent of waste in the US comes from paper products. Invest in a photo scanner for pictures and documents and store these online, which will not only free up space but will reduce your environmental footprint.
If you run a business or have an unusually large collection of electronics, contact your local green disposal company for options. Green Citizen in the Bay Area is one such company that accepts electronic waste and either dismantles and disposes of these items responsibly or refurbishes them for later use. By keeping electronics out of landfills, you not only eliminate mass but also reduce the number of harmful chemicals that leach into the surrounding terrain. Components of our smart devices and computers contain heavy metals, such as mercury and cadmium, that can have a long-lasting and far-reaching negative effect on the environment.
It’s not always feasible or desirable to get rid of everything. If you’re moving to a larger home or have a collection of heirlooms you would like to pass down to your children or grandchildren, a self-storage unit can help you keep your living space clean without giving up the things you love. However, make sure your storage unit is environmentally friendly by choosing an insulated facility and packing your possessions in sturdy, biodegradable cardboard containers.
We only have one world. It is up to us to ensure that it remains beautiful throughout our lifetimes and for generations to come. Start at home by reusing and recycling where possible and maintaining your commitment to environmental sustainability when it’s not. Simple actions can make a big difference, and your good choices may create a ripple effect within your community.
Image via Pixabay