Spring cleaning time! – What should I do with all my stuff?

The weather is getting warmer, the snow is melting and sounds of spring are in the air. It’s time to start thinking about Spring Cleaning. As we look around our homes and start deciding what needs to go, it’s important that we consider the most responsible way to get rid of our old stuff. Do we throw it or recycle it? Should we sell it or donate it? Are there safety or environmental things to consider? These are important questions with a variety of answers, so here is some basic information to get you started.

First of all, even with our day-to-day trash, it is important to remember to recycle as much as we can. For a couple of generations now people have understood the importance of recycling and if we don’t reduce, reuse and recycle our trash, we will run out of space to put it all. Not everything is recyclable and some things cause problems when being sorted at recycling facilities. A few basic things to keep in mind when deciding whether or not to recycle are:

  • Bottles, cans, and paper are recyclable. Keep them clean, dry and loose in your recycling bin.
  • Do not put plastic bags and things that can get tangled in your recycling bin.
  • Never recycle batteries.
  • If you’re not sure if it is recyclable, do not recycle it.

The Green Guide provided by Dakota County (Minnesota) is a handy resource that can help you determine what items are recyclable.

When you start to clean out the dressers, closets, and rooms in your home, consider donating gently used clothing and household items that are in working order. If you would rather get some return on your investment, you can try selling gently used items by holding a garage sale, selling them online or taking them to a consignment shop.

What about big things such as furniture and mattresses? There are special rules to consider before disposing of these items so be sure to do your research. There are some places that will take donations of these items. In Minnesota, Bridging is one such organization. They help to provide basic home essentials for families in need and will often accept gently used furniture, mattresses, small appliances, housewares and home décor. Visit their website for more information.

And remember, special care is needed when disposing of electronics including televisions, household appliances, computers, cell phones, and even batteries. These items often contain toxic substances such as lead and mercury that cannot be thrown into landfills. In many states, proper disposal of these items is the law! Many cities offer “Spring Clean Up” days when residents can bring their electronics in for recycling. Some charities will accept electronics that are in working condition and many electronics manufacturers will accept these items for recycling. (Note: Be sure to completely wipe computers and cell phones clear of all personal data before disposing of them.) Do some research to find out the resources available in your area for proper disposal of electronics.

For more information about electronic recycling in your area, visit www.ecyclingcentral.com.

To find a location that accepts old batteries for recycling, visit www.call2recycle.org.

Getting our closets, homes, and garages all cleaned out as we head into spring is a great feeling! And it feels even better when we know that we did it responsibly! Happy Spring!

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