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How to make spring cleaning green

Spring cleaning is one of those necessary tasks that, while perhaps daunting, must be done to keep your space ordered and livable.

Depending on how long you have put off a house-wide cleaning spree, you may be facing a ton of work. Fortunately, it is possible to tackle even the most cluttered space if you remain persistent and remember the rewards that come from seeing the result of a job well done.

Green spring clean

Spring cleaning is meant to prepare your home for a new year of living, and therefore requires a thorough approach. In the process of going through all of your stuff, you will find many things you no longer want or need. In disposing of these items, you can take the green route, or the dump route. The green option is obviously more desirable.

One of the mantras for green living is “reduce, reuse, recycle.” By keeping this in mind during your spring cleaning, you can greatly reduce the environmental impact of clearing out your clutter, and help others while you are doing it. Your end goal here is to clear up your home with the minimal amount of stuff going to the dump.

5 tips for green spring cleaning

1. Define where things will go

You have several options for getting rid of things without them going in the trash. You can re-gift items, sell them in a yard sale, give them away to charity and recycle them. If an item will not work for any of these options, then throw it away.
Define a space for each of these options, whether with boxes, bags or just a cleared out space on the floor or in the yard. Once you have a place for everything to go, cleaning out your house will go quickly.

2. Start small if necessary

If you have a mountain of stuff to go through, it is best to start small. Leo Babauta at ZenHabits.net has an excellent list of de-cluttering tips, one of which is to start with 15 minutes a day. You may be surprised at how often you are willing to keep going once you start.

3. How long have you used it?

In a post about de-cluttering your kitchen taken from Houseworks by Cynthia Townley Ewer, gives a handy way of looking at each of your things – ask yourself how long it has been since you used it. You can put things into categories this way, such as: never, within a year, within a month, or recently.
With few exceptions, if you have not used it within a month, you probably do not need it.

4. Consider storage

When you have items that you rarely use, but want to keep, easy storage rentals are always an option. Many are temperature controlled, and they do not have to be expensive. This way you can remove clutter, but not get rid of it entirely.
If you do need storage, make certain to pack things well to prevent breakage. Heavy duty storage boxes made out of recycled materials are available that can keep your important items safe for extended periods of time.

5. Have a yard sale

When you are done gifting and cleaning, a yard sale can be a great way to make a extra money. Just make sure you price items appropriately, which you can do by checking eBay or other sale sites for similar items.

J.D. Roth at GetRichSlowly.org gives some great yard sale tips, including selling your things with a group of people, labeling things well and keeping a ledger. With planning and organization, it should be easy to make some extra money while avoiding the dump.

Spring cleaning can be good for you and the environment

It is not very difficult to clear out your clutter in an environmentally responsible way. While it may take a little work, the payoff can be huge for you and your family. You will feel better in your home, and will enjoy knowing that most of your things went to people who could use them.

(Editor's note: Allison Casey is a yoga instructor and design advisor. She knows how to make any drab room into a work of art.)