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Reducing waste by decluttering: a room by room by tutorial

What does it mean to reduce? The first R doesn’t always get as much attention as the other two – reuse and recycle – but it’s incredibly important. It’s not just about finding new ways to reduce waste; it’s also about living with less.

Since many of us get the urge to clean out and freshen up our homes during the spring, this is a great time to talk about decluttering.

An easy way to declutter is to work room by room. Here are some steps to get started.

Cleaning out your closets

Clothing and shoes often take up a lot of space, so let’s start in your closets. Take a look and think about how much you really wear everything you own.

  • Donate unwanted clothes that are in good, usable condition. Search this website for donation options close to you.
  • Find recycling options for non-reusable clothing and linens. These items are accepted at Hennepin County drop-off facilities, and several cities have started to offer curbside clothing recycling programs. Learn more in the Green Disposal Guide.

Cooking off the clutter 

Let’s move to the kitchen next.

  • Do you have food that is nearing expiration that you won’t be able to eat? Donate it to a local food pantry.
  • Do you find that you are often throwing out food? Learn food storage tips and techniques , and invest in quality products that will help you store food.
  • Do you use all those kitchen gadgets? Donate those that you no longer need, and make wise buying decisions to keep clutter out. Learn more tips for having a minimalist kitchen .

Get less in every room

Now that you’ve tackled some of the biggest cluttering areas, consider small changes to make in every room:

  • Consider ways to reduce the amount of personal care products and cleaners that you have in your bathroom. Consider what you really need, use multipurpose products, or look for greener options. Cleaners are often hazardous waste and should be used up or brought to a drop-off facility for proper disposal. Empty bottles go in the garbage.
  • Donate unneeded blankets or towels that are in good shape, or bring ones that are more worn to an animal shelter to be used for bedding, grooming or cleaning up their spaces.
  • Check your bookshelves for books you may not read again. Donate, sell, or recycle them along with items from your home office that you no longer need.
  • Take a look in your garage, work room and gear closets. Donate or sell usable items like bikes, tools, plant containers, and sports equipment. Keep the engines of vehicles, lawn mowers and other equipment tuned up. Consider renting or borrowing tools you use occasionally instead of buying your own.

Community cleanup days make spring cleaning easier

Throughout the spring, many cities in Hennepin County provide convenient opportunities to get rid of hard-to-dispose items. Some cities provide drop-off sites while others offer special pickup service. 

Here are a few things you should do as you get ready for your city’s cleanup day:

  1. Many of the city cleanup events also have a reuse option, so be sure to ask about that as you’re getting details.
  2. If your item(s) is not reusable, consider if it’s recyclable. Check the Hennepin County Green Disposal Guide for tips on recycling many items you can’t put in your curbside bin.
  3. If your item isn’t right for reuse or recycling (or if it will be reused or recycled through your city’s event), make sure your item is prepared correctly.
  4. Check the dates and guidelines for your city’s events. See Hennepin County’s list of city cleanup events , and be sure to check with your city about for specific details about what’s accepted.