Make your spring cleaning green cleaning

By Sharron Johnson

Spring is just around the corner, and we all know what that means. For myself, it is a time to devise a plan for decluttering the inside and outside of my home. The notion of decluttering popped into my head while walking the dog after the holidays and noticing all of the trash to be picked up and promptly added to our landfills, not to mention the extra hazardous waste such as paints, batteries, etc. My household is always on a search for ways to implement the three “R’s” into our belief system. What are the three R’s? Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle of course.

It seems like when spring rolls around, I am compelled to clean out the shed. That is the place I fondly refer to as the “holding tank.” For some people, it is their porch or the back yard, way over in the corner where they cannot see it. You know who you are, nudge, nudge, Mom, friends. It always seems that I have leftover paint. I know I change the décor a lot around the house, and I do know how to estimate paint usage, but there is always leftover paint. What I do first is look for anyone to reuse my remnants, such as those same friends and family. The second thing I do is post it on Freecycle or Craigslist. Most people have heard of these two websites. If you have not, then it is time to include these two forums into your purging process. These sites offer a wonderful way to find homes for your unwanted paint or anything else you no longer have a use for. The last, and I mean the last thing I do is dispose of the paint. Unfortunately, we eventually will have to use the City, but not in your rolling dumpster. Although latex paint may be left on the curbside, they will only pick it up if the paint has dried up. If the paint is still in liquid state, the City recommends that you keep it in a secure location with the lid open to dry it out, then place it onto the curb. The Memphis and Shelby County Hazardous Waste Collection Facility is a safe way to dispose of many types of materials, not just paint. There is a limit of 15 gallons or 100 pounds per household, per visit. The facility is located at 6305 Haley Road, 38134. It is open Tuesdays and Saturdays, and the hours are 8:30 am–1 pm. For a map and a complete list of hazardous waste accepted, look at the City of Memphis’ website or contact the Mayors Citizen’s Service Center.

Reuse to eliminate clutter around your home

After a major construction project at my home, I noticed how many empty five-gallon buckets were leftover. As I mentioned before, I tried to give them away, but to no avail. Instead, I reused them as storage containers in the, “holding tank.” These containers make excellent portable storage for, you guessed it, more décor changes. I can use one to carry tools and supplies from task to task, store grass seeds, etc. I wish I had put more thought into the waste that the sheetrock mud buckets created and used the paper boxes instead. Live and learn. The same rings true for batteries. Our household tries to use rechargeable batteries, but there is always a need for an alkaline battery. They are everywhere. Personally, I collect our dead alkaline batteries and I store them in the “holding tank” until I make my next trip to our local Lowe’s or Home Depot. They will take them for disposal. (I want to implement a drop off for alkaline batteries in our neighborhood in the near future.) They will also take fluorescent bulbs, which I recommend to never put in your rolling dumpster. Recycling of rechargeable batteries and cell phone batteries are another story. You can take these to a store like Batteries Plus or where you buy your cell phones. Do not dispose of batteries in your rolling dumpster. They contain ingredients such as mercury and other heavy metals that harm our environment. There are all sorts of environmental protection websites to research this topic. Another way to reuse is to donate to a nonprofit, such as MIFA. They will accept used or new household items, clothing, or office equipment, which they, in turn, sell at a low price in the MIFA store. You can donate your empty copier or ink-jet ink cartridges and cell phones to Open Arms, as well. They will ship them for recycling, and, in exchange, the Open Arms Care Foundation receives money and donations for their clientele. There are a plethora of nonprofits to choose from.

Recycle to declutter your space

I am not speaking of your every-week curbside bin. When spring rolls around, so do the new fashions. This means it is time to evaluate my excess clothing and what I consider out of style or, dare I say, does not fit anymore. Ugh, too many sweets during all those holiday parties. Needless to say, I use the same process I mentioned before. I ask friends or family first, then post them on free recycling websites, then subsequently use a nonprofit donation facility. This process works for all types of excess clutter like furniture, appliances, and toys. I have noticed when appliances, metal, steel, or even lumber is placed on the curb, more likely than not, someone will come by to pick it up for reuse or resale. Think about reduction this way, it provides an income for someone who needs it. This is recycling too.

City Beautiful has a handy downloadable book called, A Citizens Guide to a Cleaner Memphis. Go to the city’s website, Click on “Community” in the “I want to” box; then, click on “Learn about the City Beautiful Commission” and look for the green box on the left margin.

For more helpful information, contact 
or visit:

Mayors Citizens Service Center – 

Battery facts –

Duracell battery –


Open Arms –

Goodwill –

Salvation Army –

Freecycle –

Craigslist –

Lowe’s Home Improvement Center –

Home Depot – (click on eco options).


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