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Varda Epstein Headshot

Come Spring, I'm Giving It Away for Free

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You wouldn't know it from the weather but spring is right around the corner. It's time to think about letting in some of that nice fresh air and getting some cleaning done. But ugh. You're surrounded by stuff. Who can clean with all that clutter? It's like even your dust kittens are having kittens.

Here's the thing, once you get into shvoong, spring cleaning is an awesome workout which means you're getting fit for bikini season which arrives some time after spring cleaning and some time before your next Chocolate Carmel Turtle Cake binge. It's the perfect time to get rid of some of the stuff you've accumulated over the past year like that neon green trout-flavored chewing gum your ex-boyfriend Harold gave you for April Fool's Day (like 5 years ago?).

De-cluttering your home means giving yourself room to actually clean. With fewer things in your home, you have fewer surfaces to catch dust and more space to actually maneuver the vacuum cleaner.

Of course, if you're a pack rat, this is no easy task for you. You might mean well, but as you pick up items and consider throwing each one away, you find excuses to hold onto things--after all, you might NEED them some day (who doesn't need glow-in-the-dark root beer-scented dental floss?).

On the other hand, maybe what you really need is a new perspective. Instead of THROWING things away, how about GIVING them away? To someone who really DOES need them?

Giving things away grants items new purpose. Besides, it's a green method for de-cluttering. By giving things away, you are directly responsible for cutting down on landfill waste.

Does this sound too simplistic? You may want to consider this: In 2009, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found that U.S. citizens generated some 243 million tons of garbage. Much it might have been recycled or at the very least, given away to a useful cause.

Here are some common items you might have lying around that could be repurposed for good:

Metal Clothes Hangers: Once upon a time, metal clothes hangers were just that -- made out of metal. Today, the vast majority of them are coated with plastic and so recycling places don't accept them. But that doesn't mean you should consign them to the rubbish bin (or hold on to them until the next century). Why not call your friendly neighborhood dry cleaners to find out if they would like them back gratis? Or perhaps, a kindergarten would like some of them for arts and crafts projects such as making mobiles?

Mobile Phones: Has it ever seemed to you that the day after you buy a phone, the next generation comes on the market? And of course, some of us have always got to have the newest thing. If no one in the family wants your old model, don't just pitch it -- check the EPA and find out where you can bring your phone for recycling purposes.

Eyeglasses: Need new glasses? Don't throw out your old pair! Many low-income families desperately need eyeglasses and can't afford a new pair. Look up the number of your local Lion's Club, which specializes in matching donor eyeglasses to the people who will most benefit from them.

Cars: You know that old car in your garage that does nothing much but collect rust? Did you know you can get it towed away for free? Furthermore, you can get a tax deduction and benefit needy children. Honest. All you need to do is make a phone call to a car donation charity such as Kars4Kids (you already know the number from that obnoxious jingle). No more worries about paying to have that car towed and you'll be doing yourself and some needy children a big favor.

Tennis Balls: Slit them two ways and slip them over the feet of a metal-legged chair. No more noise when you drag those chairs around. Also keeps chairs from slipping or tipping. Or contact Rebounces. They rehabilitate old tennis balls and get them back up and bouncing on the court.

CD's DVD's and VHS Tapes: If they're in good working order but you've seen them one too many times, try offering them to a library, preschool, shelter for battered women or the homeless. But if they're past their working prime, consider sending them to Alternative Community Training (ACT) where people with disabilities will recycle them for you. You're providing meaningful work for people in need while making sure that the usable materials in your old tapes and discs are granted new life.

Now that you can actually see your floor you'll have to, um, clean it. There are two ways to get in the mood.

You can practice karate.

Or you can play this awesome upbeat Stevie Wonder tune -- my favorite cleaning music. Let me know what worked for you in the comments, below.

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