Monday, April 14, 2014

Spring Clean…But Stay Green

With warm spring days comes a sense of renewal, rejuvenation… and a whole bunch of motivation to clean.

As we collectively wipe away the memories of winter with a bottle of Clorox, it’s always easiest to dump all of our old stuff in the trash. But when it comes to the environment, there are much smarter ways to wash away the winter blues.

Below are some of our favorite ways to stay green during your spring clean.

1. Your Closet

Are you a bit of a hoarder? Me too. Not TLC style, but there’s just something about those chilly winter months that make me hold onto a bunch of stuff I don’t need. Spring is the perfect time to say adios to these unnecessary items. Apparently, the rule of thumb is to get rid of anything you haven’t used within the past year. But, I think 6 months is more realistic. For examplethe Duck Dynasty bobble-head my long-lost cousin sent last Christmas? It’s gotta go.  

Don’t you dare just throw everything away, though. Whatever you think might be salvageable, donate it to a local Goodwill, Salvation Army or one of these 101 places your clutter can do good. Have a few pairs of gently-used shoes hanging around? Check out Soles4Souls: a non-profit that distributes shoes to people in need in over 125 countries. It’s amazing the things we take for granted.

2. Your Car

The inside, the outside, the trunk… it’s all filthy, gross, and full of garbage (oh, is that just me?). Regardless, on a hot, sunny day you might be tempted to pull out the hose and get to it. Hey, it saves a whole 9 bucks and a trip to the car wash, right? But, according to the International Car Wash Association, going to the wash uses less than half the water used when doing the job yourself. To top it off, commercial car washes almost always purify and reuse their water, while those harsh chemicals you bought at 7/11 eventually end up in local lakes and streams.

3. Your Paper Goods

Why do we keep books after we’ve read them? Unless it’s a copy of The Giving Tree, this boggles my mind. Instead of letting stacks of books gather dust, put them to good use. If they’re in decent condition, donate them to a local cause like a thrift shop or fundraiser. Another great option is – an organization that places your gently-used books in inner-city schools, youth centers, homeless shelters and children’s group homes. Make room, and make a difference. Simple as that.

How about piles of old mail, magazines and newspapers? These can all be recycled. On average, a family of four goes through 1.25 tons of paper every year. That’s the weight of a Bison, by the way. And, according to the GreenBox environmental impact calculator, 1.25 tons of paper could create about 4,500 pizza boxes. Let's all think before we throw!

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