Conscientious Spring Cleaning

As the weather gets nice it becomes time to start Spring Cleaning around the house and yard. Besides general cleaning some may take the time to review and purge items, and in general cleaning often things need to be thrown out. What this means is that we can build up quite a large amount of items from home and yard that could take up space in landfills. Instead of just throwing things out there are many useful and even helpful ways to get rid of all this stuff.

Here in Wisconsin, the melting snow often reveals a lot of work for the homeowner. As we take time to clean up our yards of the leftover leaves from fall, twigs from Spring storms, and gather other yard waste, be responsible and try to make the least impact with the waste. At minimum make sure any organic matter from plants is taken away by your waste management in a way it will be used for compost or however your community uses it. Use those large brown paper bags and put it out when your community picks up yard waste. Even better, make your own compost bin. While you are cleaning up, look around and see what else you can do to make your neighborhood and community better for all. If you have a sewer drain nearby make sure it is cleaned out so water does not back up to your or a neighbor's home. While cleaning out your gutters think about and look into setting up a rain barrel. Think about switching to organic lawn care as you prepare your lawn for summer so chemical runoff does not go into the water system. Finally, one your yard is done, think about joining a community clean-up such as waterway cleaning and invasive species pulling.

Moving inside, you may take the time to clean out your garage and shop as you switch over tools from winter (snowblowers and shovels) to warmer month care (lawn mowers, trimmers, etc.). While you are doing this you will probably find lots of things that you may want to get rid of - scrap wood, old tools, parts from equipment you no longer have, and so on. It is easy to just throw this stuff into the trash. But please think about finding ways to reuse and recycle. You could of course have your garage sale, but those take a lot of work. Resale shops, especially those that benefit an organization such as Goodwill, St Vincent DePaul, Purple Heart, and Salvation Army are great options. Not only can you take items there but some will even come to your place and pick it up. And you can claim the donation on taxes. But there are other options as well. Habitat for Humanity's Restore will take items to sell at their resale shop and locally the NARI group this Friday May 5 is having a rummage sale that you can drop off items for. Your childrens' school(s), your church, or other organizations may hold their own rummage sales as fundraisers. All of these groups will use the sales of your old junk to help someone out. Also, a reminder, if you have any chemical items such as paint, cleaners, etc. please check with your community  on how to properly dispose of it.

Further inside, this is a great time to look at your wardrobe. Of course you can donate any old clothes to places like Goodwill, but look at your work attire. If you have suits and shoes that are still in good condition but an old style, the wrong size, or you just don't wear anymore, there are places you can donate them to so that men in need can use them to interview for new jobs. Some cities have specific organizations for this, in Milwaukee I have seen one for women but cannot find one for men (if you know of one let me know and I will add it here) but the Milwaukee Adult Rehabilitation Center will take them.

I could go on and on - such as better cleaning products (maybe another day) - but this Spring  please consider when you clean on more conscientious and responsible ways to purge. Just a little extra work can do others great benefit.


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