Flowers are blooming, the sun is shining, days are longer & warmer and we’re coming out of hibernation. Who cares if allergies are on high alert…it’s time to kick up the dust and start cleaning out the cobwebs!
Garages, patios, closets – it’s time to clean it all out!
As we come out of hibernation, though, and that spring cleaning fever hits, the first thing that most people want to do is GET RID OF THE “STUFF”! This is when I step in and ask you to slow it down – don’t start throwing everything into the trash just yet! Remember your 3 Rs…REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE. Preferably in that order.
REDUCE. This is probably the hardest step to take in our society. So many stores selling such cute, springy-summery, fun decorations for our homes, patios, yards, children, ohhhhh, the list goes on & on. And the cheap, dollar stores are the best, right? I for one LOVE to bring out the fun decorations to the patio – that’s where everyone ends up, after all.
But here’s the thing: the largest majority of all those fun spring/summer decorations are made from plastic. And, not the sustainable kind. Most items are made from cheap, highly-chemically-treated plastic. Have you ever bought the cutest little thing then, when you opened it from its plastic bag, the smell of chemicals just about knocked you down? My friend…that smell doesn’t just disappear into thin air. It lingers for much longer than we can actually smell it. Those are toxins, our children, our pets, and we, are breathing in.
So, my first suggestion is going to be: just don’t buy it. If it’s made of plastic, made in China, sold in a plastic bag, etc., then REALLY think about it. How long will it last you – 1 season, 1 year, 10 years? Is it worth the long-term damage to your health, the health of your kids & pets, the environment? “Oh, but it’s soooo cute.” I know. It is. But really. Maybe you save your money & buy something that is made well, was made sustainably and that will last you many, many summers? Or maybe buy something that has been previously loved (i.e. garage sale)? Which leads to our next “R”: REUSE.
So many well-made & beautiful hidden gems are sitting quietly, maybe covered in a bit of dust, at a neighborhood garage sale and cost far less than the original purchase! Take advantage of everyone ELSE spring cleaning, grab your Pinterest App (www.pinterest.com) and get creative! Then, spend a beautiful Friday or Saturday searching for that just that right piece to make your collection complete (or start your collection!). In addition to not adding to our landfills, you’ll grab that sweet find & get to brag about how original it is!
Lastly, Recycle. The reason this “R” is last is because recent studies have shown that less than three-fourths of “recyclable” items are never recycled. Either because they are not disposed of properly or because the cities & counties we live in are not currently participating in a recycling program. Check with your city to find out if they offer recycling for electronics, textiles and furniture.
Are you cleaning out your closets & getting rid of clothes? If you can’t donate the items or sell them in your garage sale, see if your city has a “textile recycling” location or pick up. Check out Earth911, to find a location close to you.
It’s the little choices we make each & every day. I know it’s work and, trust me…I’m still making poor choices. (Just yesterday, I bought an iced tea at McDonald’s, which of course uses paper (plastic lined) cups – but I didn’t use a plastic straw!) Knowing that we can take steps each & every day is what we need to make a difference.
Which of these three “R”s will you be able to use this Spring? Leave your comments below, as I’d love to open some dialogue. I’m always looking to learn more ways to treat our most precious earth better!
Don’t forget while you’re out enjoying this beautiful weather: BYOB and TYOB – bring your own bottle, take your own bag.
Happy Spring Cleaning, y’all!
photo courtesy of Glenda Anderson, 4/17