Decluttering is an incredibly effective way to breathe new life into your home. However, getting rid of a bunch of stuff from one place means it has to go to another. For a lot of people, the answer is simply throwing anything they don’t want into a dumpster. But all the stuff that you throw away eventually ends up in a landfill.
The problem (or shall we say problems) with landfills is they are an ecological disaster. Landfills emit harmful greenhouse gases– up to 98 percent of landfill gas are methane and carbon dioxide. Other harmful gases landfills emit in smaller quantities include ammonia, sulfides, and hydrogen. Greenhouse gases are bad for the earth because they trap heat in the planet’s atmosphere, which warms the earth and its oceans. This “global warming” leads to severe weather extremes, including droughts and floods on top of hotter summers and colder winters. These gases can also react to each other and release toxic fumes that negatively impact the air quality for those who live near a landfill.
“The best way to handle the damage that landfills inflict upon the environment is to reduce what we throw into them.”
Furthermore, landfills pollute the planet beyond the ether. The land it takes to establish a garbage dump takes away habitats and resources for wildlife. The trash leaks toxins into the soil and washes out into our water supply. To this day, our water is so polluted with garbage that 83 percent of the world’s tap water contains plastic fibers.
“It’s important to figure out how you can recycle, reuse, or donate items so their materials can continue being useful rather than damaging the earth.”
The best way to handle the damage that landfills inflict upon the environment is to reduce what we throw into them. Instead of throwing all the clutter in your home into the dumpster, it’s important to figure out how you can recycle, reuse, or donate items so their materials can continue being useful rather than damaging the earth. Here’s how to do just that.
Cleaning as You Go
Cleaning as you go makes the whole decluttering process more streamlined. You can motivate yourself to do so by investing in a quality upright vacuum. Many upright vacuums feature adjustments for heights, which make them perfect for a variety of hardwood and carpeted floors. Do your decluttering from the top down in each room, and then run the vacuum over floors to remove dirt, dust, and dander for healthier indoor air quality.
Furthermore, when you’re getting rid of old papers and documents, take photos of them and upload the images to the cloud. This gives you a backup in case you need the information while reducing the amount of clutter you have in the kitchen or office. Use a paper shredder to protect your identity, then throw the material into the recycling bin so the paper can be pulverized into a pulp and reused to make something new.
How to Recycle Big Stuff
Most people are pretty well-versed when it comes to recycling common household items, but when it comes to big things like mattresses or furniture, you can’t exactly throw them in the bin. However, most of these items are made up of recyclable materials, like fabric, wood, and metal springs. Don’t let your old mattress become one of the 20 million mattresses that end up in landfills each year. Look for ways to recycle or refurbish your old mattress the next time you upgrade to a new one.
- If it’s a fairly new mattress, look into selling or donating it. Do not donate a mattress if it is soiled. That’s simply rude and a waste of nonprofit workers’ time.
- Just about every city and town has a professional recycling business that will come to your house and haul away items for a nominal fee. If you’re hesitant to pay a company for this service, it may help to know that many of them hire people with disabilities who are otherwise discriminated against in the job market.
- If you are creative enough, you can find a way to repurpose all the materials that make your mattress. Use the padding and foam to stuff throw pillows or make a new bed for your pup. Old springs can be repurposed to become garden trellises, photo displays, candle holders, and more.
“Don’t let your old mattress become one of the 20 million mattresses that end up in landfills each year.”
“Just about every city and town has a professional recycling business that will come to your house and haul away items for a nominal fee.”
Decluttering your home makes it feel amazing, but it’s not always so great for the environment. Throwing the things you don’t want or need into the garbage ensures they will end up in a pollution-ridden landfill. To make decluttering easier, clean as you go room to room and from the top down. Once everything is removed, find ways to recycle, reuse, or donate items so they don’t end up breaking down in landfills and polluting our air, soil, and water.
“Find ways to recycle, reuse, or donate items so they don’t end up breaking down in landfills and polluting our air, soil, and water.”
About the Author:
Our guest writer Alice Robertson of ‘TidyHome’ has made a career in the home organization industry as a professional house cleaner, which has involved a LOT of decluttering. Over the years, she has helped many clients get rid of everything from old mattresses to outdated electronics to entire closets worth of clothes, and always in the ‘Greenest’ way possible.