Spring Cleaning – Where to go with all the Stuff?

I’ve written about organizing before on my blog (HERE) and have continued going through pretty much EVERYTHING in our house to determine if it should stay or go. Getting and staying organized helps things run more smoothly at home, and since we’re moving, I have an even greater sense of urgency to donate, recycle, share, or properly dispose of non-essentials. Here are some ideas for where to go with the things you’re getting rid of this spring:

  1. Baby gear / clothes / toys: I’ve continued the cycle of passing along items to family and friends. For some items, I’ve donated to a local organization that supports single moms.
  2. Baby Cribs: My friends on Facebook had a lot of great ideas on where to go with used cribs. One suggested a domestic abuse charity, to help women get out of a bad situation and provide some needed furniture for their family. I contacted an organization for single moms and received two options for donating – to their main site or to a couple who collects gently used furniture for the poor.
  3. Adult clothing: I’ve split between Goodwill and a homeless shelter that has a collection bin at our church.
  4. Appliances: Goodwill accepted our non-working shop vac. We also have to get a broken wine fridge (sad, I know), and dehumidifier to an area appliance recycling location. Check with your county or municipality for recycling appliances in your area!
  5. Vases: This was AWESOME – my local florist recycles old vases. I wrote more about that in How I Gave Myself Free Flowers.
  6. Shoes: For Lent our Church is working with Soles for Jesus, an organization that sends shoes to the under-served in sub-Saharan Africa, where many people walk barefoot as their means of getting around. Just one pair of shoes can help prevent disease and make a difference!
  7. Books: My daughter’s school was having a book drive to support a local charity, so some children’s books went there. Another bunch went to the Little Free Library nearby.
  8. Bras: I knew this was a long-shot, but I had some bras that were truly gently used , and I couldn’t bear to throw away, as my husband suggested. I went to Google and found a donation site for Free the Girls, an organization dedicated to help survivors of sex trafficking in developing countries.
  9. Household items or other miscellaneous things: Most of this has ended up at Goodwill. I’ve also considered donating to Easter Seals Disability Services, as they need a wide variety of items and can even arrange to pick up your items for FREE! If there seems to be some use left, I would much rather pass it along than just pitch-it!
  10. Batteries, Printer Cartridges: My husband’s work recycles old batteries. I’ve also brought some to Batteries Plus. Empty printer cartridges have gone to Office Max / Office Depot.
  11. Expired Medicine: I’ve dropped off old prescriptions and expired medicine at a county sponsored annual drug / medicine collection. Click on the link from the FDA that explains how to properly dispose of unused medicine.
  12. Hardware Store Items: I found some electrical products and other miscellaneous items purchased from a hardware store that we haven’t used. I think I ultimately bought the wrong things! After Daddy O. goes through this random box, I plan on taking it to the local Habitat for Humanity ReStore.

Getting rid of items is no small feat, but there are so many organizations and people that are in need, both locally and around the world. I hope that my spring cleaning efforts play a small part in keeping items out of landfills while helping others.


How I Gave Myself Free Flowers

Check out these beautiful tulips that I received today!

Free flowers vase recycling

Colorful tulips remind me of Spring!

How did I get them?  While I have been tempted to buy myself tulips to help escape the winter-blahs, I have been distracted by a clean- and purge-my-house-of-things-kick, meaning no time or need for flowers.  Fortunately, I found a way for my de-cluttering to payoff with free flowers.

It was simple – I had several glass vases collecting dust in my basement. On the bottom two vases, I found a clear sticker with the contact info for a local florist. I called them up and asked them if they re-cycled vases, and she said that they did, giving fresh flowers in return. AWESOME!

This was such a win-win-win situation: I get rid of excessive vases I don’t want, AND get fresh flowers in return. A win for the florist: they are able to stock up on vases in time for Valentine’s Day at a minimal cost (I assume)! And a win for the earth is always recycling! Finally, it was a win for Daddy O., who will not buy me flowers for Valentine’s Day (though admittedly he wouldn’t anyway after years of me telling him not to because they are so ridiculously marked up for the holiday, and I’d rather do something together as a couple instead of receiving a gift).

Search your own home and see if your local florist recycles vases too!

For organizing and spring cleaning tips, see my post from last January when a dear friend helped me organize my living room / toy chaos.

Earth Day Craft: Recycled Robot

I saw this pin on Pinterest and thought that making a robot out of recycled items we had around the house would be a fun family project.

Here’s what we used for our robot:

  • 8 tin cans
  • 1 large kiwi plastic container
  • 1 shoe box – bottom and lid
  • 1 paper towel roll, cut in half
  • 2 circle magnets
  • 1 magnetic strip
  • Alphabet magnets
  • 1 egg carton
  • 4 screws
  • Plastic stuffing
  • Tape

It was really interesting helping the kids and Daddy O. figure out how to best build our robot.  I am a fan of excessive taping of any homemade project, but we were having problems with the cans staying in place. Daddy O. decided to drill holes into the bottoms of the cans to screw them together vertically. This also helped attach the head, body and feet of the robot, so it was very stable. The kids helped with taping the cardboard tube arms on. Big sister invented the control panel, using the lid of the box and part of an egg carton.

Here’s our finished product in all its glory!

Here's our robot and "control panel"

Here’s our robot and egg shell carton “control panel” in the lid of the shoebox

How I would change it up for next time – The flat magnets don’t stick terribly well to the round cans, and we were forced to spell words vertically vs. horizontally.  I would flip the box next time and perhaps have a bigger tin can torso, so we could do more with the magnets we have.

All in all this was a fun, family activity that is easy and eco-friendly.  Happy Earth Day!