With so much of our time spent in the living areas of our home, it’s no surprise that the garage tends to get neglected when it comes to eco-updates. These days there are more ways than ever to green that oft-overlooked storage and work space and avoid waste in the first place.
Maximize Your Space
Believe it or not, staying organized can help avoid waste. If your garage is a messy catch-all storage solution for your home, it can be tempting to go purchase something new rather than dig through piles to see if you already have it. You can save money on unnecessary purchases and materials by knowing what you have and where to find it. Whether your space just needs tidied up or a serious revamp, taking the time to get things in order can save you in the long run. There are tons of creative storage solutions available these days. Maybe it makes sense to <a href="http://webecoist.momtastic.com/2011/08/19/cycle-crazy-14-smart-stylish-bike-storage-solutions/" target="_hplink">hoist your bikes</a> or winter sports gear above head with a rafter hanger, or hang your power tools on peg hooks so they're ready when you need them. No matter what the organizational challenge, don't be afraid to think outside the box. Lowe's offers <a href="http://www.lowes.com/cd_Garage+Storage+Buying+Guide_994425283_" target="_hplink">a breakdown of the basics</a> when it comes to storage options as well as this quick tutorial on efficient ways to tackle your garage clean-up.
Recycle And Donate
Part of organizing your garage will be getting rid of things you no longer want or need such as old clothes or left over computer parts. Don't let them go to waste by throwing them out- be sure to recycle and donate what you can. When you're getting started on your garage clean-up project, make a pile for trash, a pile for recycling and pile for donations. When you're done, double check that what you put in the trash pile can't be reused, recycled or donated. Not sure if what you've got on hand can be recycled? Check out <a href="http://search.earth911.com/" target="_hplink">Earth911's recycling directory</a> for your local options. In addition to the possibility of a tax credit, you also get the satisfaction of extending a product's life and keeping it out of a landfill.
Use Smart Storage
Storing tools and left over materials properly helps extend their lifespan, thus reducing waste. By making something you already have last longer you are skipping the purchase of its replacement and contributing one less thing to the waste stream. Preserving paint is an especially relevant challenge as it is often stored in the garage for long periods of time before being reused. To keep it from spoiling, try sealing it with a layer of plastic wrap underneath the lid. You can also hammer the lid on and store the left over paint can upside down to create a seal that helps your paint stay fresh. <a href="http://earth911.com/news/2007/05/07/proper-storage-extends-paint-life/" target="_hplink">Read More: Proper Storage Extends Paint Life</a> As for tools, a little extra care can help make sure they last a lot longer. Keeping them clean and dry prevents dirt and grime from rusting them. They should be wiped clean before you store them, and they should usually be hung up or stored in drawers rather than on the ground where they will experience more wear and tear.
Keep It Safe
Some materials that are common staples in garages everywhere such as old paint, cleaning products, gardening products, batteries and automotive accessories are actually considered hazardous materials. In addition to ensuring <a href="http://earth911.com/recycling/hazardous/how-to-store-hazardous-products/" target="_hplink">proper storage</a> (consider timeframe and temperature to start) it is even more important to dispose of these items properly when you decide to get rid of them. Products considered to be household hazardous waste (HHW) are capable of harming people or the environment if disposed of improperly. Here are some ground rules: -- <strong>Following directions of course, get as much use of the product as you can</strong>. Rather than storing leftover product until it goes bad, see if any friends or neighbors might need it. -- <strong>Read storage and disposal directions provided on product packaging carefully</strong>. This can help extend the life of leftover product. When a product is expired or completely used, get rid of it- don't let it sit around. -- <strong>When the time comes, dispose of the product responsibly</strong>. If you're not sure what to do with your leftover product, look it up on Earth911's directory for your local disposal solution, or contact your local HHW facility. <a href="http://search.earth911.com/?what=HHW" target="_hplink">Find your local disposal solution for hazardous waste here</a>
Save Energy Where You Can
Last but not least, look for opportunities to make your garage as energy efficient as possible. There are easy steps like making sure you're using updated light bulbs, or perhaps it's time to reconsider the value compared to the energy savings of the extra refrigerator. You can also check to make sure your garage door is properly insulated so that you're not wasting energy or money on extra heating and cooling costs. Not sure where to start? Lowe's offers <a href="http://www.lowes.com/cd_Installing+Garage+Insulation_1284555512_" target="_hplink">some helpful pointers</a> to help you get going. Applying energy efficient thinking to the items your garage such as lawn mowers and power tools can also help you reduce wasted energy. Keep <a href="http://www.lowes.com/Outdoor-Power-Equipment/Blowers/Electric-Blowers/_/N-1z0zc50/pl?Ns=p_product_qty_sales_dollar|1" target="_hplink">electric-powered</a> or energy-efficient models in mind when it comes time to update your appliances, and be sure to dispose of any older models properly when the time comes. <em>Editor's Note: Earth911 partners with many industries, manufacturers and organizations to support its Recycling Directory, the largest in the nation, which is provided to consumers at no cost. <a href="https://www.lowes.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/MyLowesLanding?storeId=10151&langId=-1&catalogId=10051&krypto=w37ixU9mxd7iv8LlRPTKAA%3D%3D" target="_hplink">Lowe's</a> is one of these partners</em>
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