Green up your spring cleaning chores in four easy steps

Follow these tips to take care of a winter’s worth of clutter and the environment at the same time.

Sure, there’s been rain, snow and hail lately, but believe it or not, spring is almost here. Before we know it, it will be time to open the shutters, shed the big wooly sweaters and do something about a winter’s worth of clutter.

Don’t sweat it. I’m right there with you in the spring cleaning boat. Fortunately, with a few easy steps, we can make this year’s spring cleaning the fresh, green event the season deserves.

1. Donate and declutter.

Let’s be honest, when was the last time you used that tennis racket or wore those boots? If you have items collecting dust in the back of the closet, maybe it’s time to find them a new home. Donate unneeded items, host a yard sale with neighbors, give items to a friend or join a local Buy Nothing group. You’ll be surprised at how many items can go to a new home instead of the landfill.

And when it comes to items you can’t reuse or give away, like old boxes, paper bags, bottles and cans, be sure to recycle. You’ll see those items again soon, when they’re remade into new products like cereal boxes, ski jackets or park benches.

2. Get cleaner the greener way.

After you’re done decluttering and it’s time to tackle dust and grime, you can save money and avoid harsh chemicals, hazardous waste and extra packaging by making your own cleaners. Most areas at home can be cleaned with non-toxic products like baking soda, vinegar and good old-fashioned soap. To study up on non-toxic cleaners, visit: extension.wsu.edu/snohomish/greencleaning.

3. Pay attention to labels.

Keep an eye out for items labeled with “caution,” “warning,” “danger” or “poison” when cleaning at home – chances are they need special care when it’s time to toss them out. To keep your home and the environment safe, find your local hazardous waste disposal facility at snohomishcountywa.gov/477/Hazardous-Waste.

4. Get outside.

Yep, there’s usually spring cleaning to be done outside as well. When it’s time to spruce up the yard, the yard waste cart is your best friend. You can compost grass clippings, leaves and plant trimmings. Branches can go in, too. Just cut them into sections smaller than 4 feet, so they fit in the cart.

That’s all there is to it! With these four steps, and a healthy dose of elbow grease, our homes will be clean, green and spring-ready.

Now where did I put those rubber gloves?

Michelle Metzler is the recycling education and outreach manager for Waste Management. Have more recycling questions? When in doubt, find out at recycleoftenrecycleright.com/get-started.

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