How environmentally sound are you with your decluttering? - Mothering Forums
Organize & Declutter > How environmentally sound are you with your decluttering?
melissel's Avatar melissel 01:32 AM 07-23-2005
I feel immense guilt when I don't recycle items that should be, or move along prefectly usable items that could maybe be useful to someone else, or dispose of items in the manner they should be. But I usually don't have the time or energy to figure out where stuff should go, or make it go that way :LOL For example, someone gave us a ton of children's books, and most are books that we won't read (boy, those old Golden Books are frightening!). In order to recycle them, I have to tear all the (hard) covers off. I just haven't had time to do it, so this huge pile of books keeps making its way around the house. Also, in our town, household batteries are supposed to be taken to the recycling center, which is about 15 minutes away, in a direction I drive in maybe 3 times a year. I don't even know where it is exactly. So we have this little stack of batteries also making their way around the house. And it breaks my heart to get rid of stuffed animals, but no one wants recycled stuffed animals. I just hate throwing them in the garbage, but DD has SOOOO many. I don't know what else to do with them!

Do you always dispose of your clutter the way you should?



Unreal's Avatar Unreal 01:45 AM 07-23-2005

The less I say here, the better...


~Megan~'s Avatar ~Megan~ 01:46 AM 07-23-2005
I love Freecycle!
basilsmom's Avatar basilsmom 10:47 AM 07-23-2005
Hi ,Would you consider donating the books to the library. The stuffed animals could go to good will. One day just drop the batteries off, even though its only 15 minutes away. It could be a little adventure. Good luck.
sincitymama's Avatar sincitymama 11:11 AM 07-23-2005

Oh my god if I was beatin gmyself up for not recycling everyhting that went out my door I'd never get rid of a darn thing! Though I guess donating is a sort of recycling...But seriously, I'd be weirded out to hear that someone ripped up a bunch of perfectly good childrens books in order to recycle them, instead of givinghtem somehow to kids who could enjoy them.

Your kids books and stuffed animals can be donated. The batteries, I dunno. Make it a field trip for yourself :LOL

But in any case, I'm sure I don't handle everything exactly the way I probably 'should' bu tI certainly don't beat myself up over it. I f I leave all that junk sitting in my house because it needs to be done 'right' instead of going to a landfill all I'm doing is turning my own home into a dumpster!
Unreal's Avatar Unreal 11:13 AM 07-23-2005
I nomally do donate tons of stuff and did freecycle lots of large item things (stopped because my freecycle group stinks....seriously )

but when I am doing a "We-are-getting-rid-of-all-this-crap-NOW" cleaning, everything that can't get recycled easily gets dumped in the garbage.

having said that though--we still have household cleaners and old medicine sitting around because I absolutely refuse to dump them into our septic system, kwim?

and we have an attic full of books that have to be sorted and sold/donated (we are a house full of bibliophiles)

But when I have tubs of things that are just going from room to room...
and when I am doing a whirlwind cleaning...

well, I'll just go back to
SandyBeachBums's Avatar SandyBeachBums 03:52 PM 07-23-2005
Start buying rechargeables. When you run out on a remote control buy a big pack of AA.

Call your local fire and Police Department. My uncle is a Police Officer and they keep stuffed animals in the trunk of all vehicles to give to children who have been through an ordeal.

Books should go to freecycle or thrift store. Our library has a bookstore and they take extra books and magazines. They use the money to support the library system and order more books.

Maybe a women's shelter would take the cleaning supplies.
Ruthla's Avatar Ruthla 03:44 AM 07-24-2005
You can offer the cleaning chemicals on Freecycle. Heck, you can offer almost anything on Freecycle!!

Generally, I'll donate what I can to the VA, since they pick up. What they don't take, I'll offer on Freecycle or drive to a thrift store, depending on the quantity and bulk of the items (lots of small stuff- it's easier to dump at the store. Bulky/heavy stuff, it's easier to have them pick up.) There's a local for-profit thrift store that will accept things that many non-profits won't (such as stuffed animals, used potty seats and baby baths, etc. I've seen this stuff for sale in their store.) What can't be donated I'll recycle. What can't be donated or recycled gets thrown out. We're planning to start a compost pile soon, so we'll be able to stop throwing out organic waste.

Honestly, I don't recycle much- I try to use less in the first place, and then re-use what I can (either by reusing it personally or by giving it to somebody else to use.)

I will also admit, without guilt, that we threw out a TON of stuff right before we moved- I donated what I could in the months before, and I'm continuing to donate now as I unpack and realize I don't need/have space for all the stuff I moved with, but plenty of things ended up in the landfill when we had a time limit for emptying out the house.

I'm not perfect- I can only do my best.
boysrus's Avatar boysrus 03:24 PM 07-25-2005
I make three piles in every room: donate, throw away, keep, move to another room(okay, that is four).
Why is it any different: throw away or donate the books? I have one garbage bag for throw out and one bag for give away. Set the bag of give e on the back porch and offer them on freecycle. People will come and take them. You can even email the person who wants to pick them up and say they are on the back porch. You never have to see them. Heck of a lot easier than ripping covers off. If it is too much for freecycle, just load the bags into the car and go to goodwill.
PikkuMyy's Avatar PikkuMyy 06:41 AM 07-26-2005
Some of those GOlden books are worth selling...

Recycling by having someone use the item in its original condition is even MORE recycling than breaking it down into a new item of lesser quality (whcih is what happens when you send stuff to the recycling center.)

Bring those babies to the thrift store - many will pick up if you have a lot of items or make one big trip, and drop the batteries off at the dump/police station/Safeway or whoever takes the used batteries - there may be places closer to use that also do it.
Wolfmeis's Avatar Wolfmeis 01:17 PM 07-26-2005
Originally Posted by Unreal

The less I say here, the better...

Wolfmeis's Avatar Wolfmeis 01:20 PM 07-26-2005
Here in the NW, you have to pay for your garbage to be hauled off. They do not, however, charge you for the separate pile of recyclables. SOOOOOOOO That's a nice incentive to get the stuff out in proper fashion.

Like you however, I had a horrible time a week or so ago tossing out stuffed animals. I am one of those who can tell you where every one of those creatures came from, what the person said when they gave it to the baby and what holiday it was. It's hard.

Freecycle has been a boon for my soul. I also use the Goodwill dropoff. I would give all those books of yours to Goodwill.

I didn't know about the household batteries thing and I have been tossing themin the garbage.
melissel's Avatar melissel 04:51 PM 07-28-2005
Thanks everyone, some good ideas here. I guess my main problem is that I work FT from home, but with only 16 hours of childcare, and my DH works an 80 hour week, so I feel completely out of control on a daily basis as it is! The idea of adding things to my schedule is totally overwhelming to me right now, but I feel such a need to declutter at least a little before the baby comes. I managed to take the wire hangers to the dry cleaner at least!

About the books, I tend to think of these books as books that no kid should be reading :LOL They're filled with death and dying, and wording that I'm horrified to see in kids' books. That's why I'm considering recycling them. But I guess maybe even crummy books are better than no books for kids who need them. As for the stuffed animals, when I worked for the United Way none of our partner agencies would accept stuffed animals, new or otherwise, for sanitary reasons. Are there some that actually do take them? And I completely forgot about rechargeable batteries! I had some awhile ago, but the performance was really disappointing so I didn't buy anymore, maybe I just bought cheapo rechargeables. Plus I got a bunch of disposables free with coupons and they lasted forever.

And last, about Freecycle, I keep thinking I need to move some stuff out, but I've heard really bad things about people picking up. We got some couches through a Freecycle listing and it went really well, but the people we got them from had had a bad experience before we called, which was why the couches were available again. I've heard stories about people putting stuff out and pickers coming and going through the stuff and leaving a huge mess to clean up, or people calling about an offer and interrogating the givers and then never showing up at the appointed time, over and over, or showing up at like, midnight--that kind of thing. It's made me really wary of putting stuff out there on Freecycle! I gather that most of you have NOT had bad experiences, so maybe I will give it a shot after all.

Thanks everyone, I'll try to do better from here on out!

boysrus's Avatar boysrus 05:10 PM 07-28-2005
I had one woman respond to a freecycle ad. I opted not to freecycle to her. And the woman I DID freecycle to said that the first woman instantly responds to everything, and then never comes and picks up!!
Here is what I would do. When someone replies to you, tell them they MUST take it all, and leave no mess. If they leave a mess, you will report them to the moderator and post their name and email address on your freecycle board and say that they littered your home and no one will offer anything to them again!!
Goodwill takes stuffed animals. Also, you could freecycle them.
UptownZoo's Avatar UptownZoo 01:33 PM 07-29-2005
There are lots of places to donate things, and Goodwill is not necessarily the best. Not because they're not an excellent organization, but because they're the most well-know and they're frequently inundated with mountains of stuff that they can't possibly sell. The market for used goods is not large enough to actually use all the donated items. A lot of the clothes that the Goodwill receives are shipped overseas to be recycled as stuffing for (guess what?) stuffed animals!

Children's books and stuffed animals are frequently welcomed by homeless shelters, women's domestic violence shelters, the Salvation Army, and probably many other places that serve people in crisis in your community (depending on the size/demographics of your city or town).

If you make a few phone calls, you can probably find out who needs what in your city and then sort your "give-aways" according to that. When we were de-cluttering, I would keep a box for the Storehouse, which serves homeless and near-homeless families (clothes, household items, children's books), a box for a domestic violence shelter (baby equipment, formula samples and coupons, toys and stuffed animals, my clothes from when I worked that would be suitable for a job interview), and a box for a men's drug rehab program (dh's "outgrown" (oh my gosh, he'd kill me!) work clothes, again stuff that was suitable for a job interview). If I had anything big like appliances, we called a local charity that will pick-up that stuff for you. AND, they don't care if it works or doesn't because even if appliances can't be fixed, they can often be a source of spare parts.

So, we'd load the boxes into the car and make a loop through town, dropping our boxes off. The people who took our donations from us were often thrilled that we'd put some thought into what exactly was needed. And, now that we don't buy "clutter" anymore, we sometimes have money to donate to these places. I'll tell ya', there's nothing like taking a case of tampons to a women's shelter to brighten everybody's day. :LOL We actually did this, and the young girl at the desk called the director out to see what we brought, and the director cracked up, and then told us it was absolutely perfect. People bring diapers all the time, but what about Mom?

OK, maybe too much information, but this worked great for us, and we felt good about it. I would have been very upset to see that usable stuff go unused and worse, to the landfill. Besides, our family has a reward system based on how few bags of trash we can generate in a week, and we didn't want to miss out on our weekend movies or bowling! We also learned our lesson and now buy 90% of our clothing used. People are out there getting rid of really good stuff!
numom499's Avatar numom499 03:01 AM 07-30-2005
because many times I am torn between getting something out of the house and being kind to the environment. So I have aimed for a 90% kind to the environment and 10% just get it out attitude. It seems to work. For instance, yesterday we brought a bunch of plastics to a recycling center that is a bit of a drive and then today I came across a squirt bottle that the kids played with in the bath and lost the hose to. So that, unfortunately was tossed. This sort of thing usually only happens with things I cannot donate to goodwill though.

The biggest way I feel we are environemntally sound with decluttering though is to stop consuming. We have been only buying comsumables (food, tp) for about 3 months now, and boy has the clutter in our house been low
simplespirit's Avatar simplespirit 11:09 PM 07-31-2005
Best Buy has recycling bins in the for cell phones and another for batteries.

How about emergency shelters for the stuffed animals? Those kids often flee from home with nothing but the clothes on their backs. A soft teddy would be nice to hold to the first scary night at the shelter...