4 Green Ways to De-Clutter Your Life

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by Beth Buczynski

Winter is the time when people hunker down and hibernate, which usually means stuff starts to accumulate in the cabinets and corners of our lives. When the weather gets warm again in the spring, many feel the urge to purge their homes and offices of unnecessary items in an effort to get rid of that stuffy “cabin-fever” feeling.

Deciding to get rid of stuff you don't need is the easy part. Once you're ready to part with that couch, desk, sweater or unopened holiday gift, it is time to decide how to get rid of it in an environmentally responsible manner.

Resist the temptation to throw it all in the trash! There are lots of greener ways to get rid of junk and even make some money in the process.

Recycle

For many this will be a no-brainer, but it is worth mentioning again. Think bigger than just plastic bottles and aluminum cans. If you have recently replaced old appliances with newer, more efficient models, these hazardous waste items cannot just be left by the curb. If they still work, think about donating them to a local thrift store. The same thing goes for electronics. If the items are not in working condition and there is not a local recycler that will take them, think about checking out Gazelle.com or www.YouRenew.com. These two websites make it easy to trade in old electronics for cash.

Freecycle

Freecycle is a grassroots, non-profit network made up of 4,864 groups with 7,603,875 members around the world. www.Freecycle.org members are people who want to give (and get) stuff for free in their own towns. It is all about reuse and keeping good stuff out of landfills. Local groups can be located according to the region where you live. After joining a local group, post a message by sending an email to that group’s Yahoo address or click on “messages” at the local Freecycle group website.

Exchango

Also designed for people who need free stuff, or have stuff to give away, www.Exchango.com is just like Freecycle, but without as much emphasis on the local group format. Pickup listings work like local classifieds listings. Simply contact the user at the anonymous email address in the listing to determine availability and to arrange a mutually agreeable time to pick the item up at a safe location. Listings on Exchango work like any other online shopping site but the items are free; buyers pay only for shipping. Simply click “get now” to put a hold on the item, then fill out the required shipping information and pay for the costs by credit card or PayPal.

Donate

To get rid of used soft goods, like bed linens, clothing, towels, or smaller items like books, toys, or dishware, think about donating them to an organization dedicated to helping disadvantaged people. The Vietnam Veterans of America (www.clothingdonations.com), Arc Thrift Stores (www.arcthrift.com), and Salvation Army (www.satruck.com) all offer a way to schedule pickups for donations online, making it easy to do some good without ever leaving your house.

Beth Buczynski is a freelance writer, avid recycler and amateur gardener with a secret dream of living off the grid. <bethbot52@gmail.com>.