Getting Organized
Cleaning up, doing laundry, storage and getting ready for moving time – they all involve getting organized. Following are some great ideas and tips to help you get organized.

If you haven’t started a zero waste cleaning routine yet, think of all the conventional things you are using for every day messes that end up as waste, such plastic bottles, chemicals, paper towels, sponges, and disposable wipes. You can simplify and find non-toxic, reusable, and natural options and still continue with doing a great job cleaning!

Cleaning Tools
Finding durable zero waste cleaning tools that can be washed and reused is a simple switch. Single-use plastic bottles can be replaced with glass spray bottles and concentrated refills. Rags can replace paper towels and can be used anywhere in the house. Old kitchen sponges and toothbrushes are great for cleaning bathrooms. Microfiber cloths with water are recommended for cleaning windows, no cleaning product needed! Also, bring back the feather duster and broom with natural boar bristles for great cleaning action!

Some zero waste gurus recommend getting rid of your vacuum cleaner to save on space and repair costs; others recommend a refurbished one with a reusable filter. Other items which will help to start your new routine: galvanized buckets instead of plastic ones, glass shaker container with a metal lid, a mop with a wooden handle and a removable mop head, and a wooden scrub brush with brush refills.

You can make zero waste cleaners with household products, such as baking soda, white vinegar, citrus, and even coconut oil! Another element of zero waste cleaning is fresh air - open your windows to replace the need for air fresheners in disposable containers.

While you may not think of “waste” when you think of laundry, there are plenty of things that end up as garbage from the laundry. To start, Bea Johnson, Author of Zero Waste Home, has some helpful zero waste laundry tips.

Do you use dryer sheets to soften up the clothes or mixed material cartridges for detergent? Small items do add up to a lot of waste over the course of the average year in the laundry room. Replace single use dryer sheets with reusable wool dryer balls. Most last 1,000 or more loads or typically 2-4 years.

Clothing Donation
Do you ever notice, while doing laundry, that you’ve got some clothing that just needs to go, for one reason or another? Don't toss old clothing into the garbage -- donate them to be re-worn, reused or recycled. Our Textile Collection Week during the first week of June and October are a convenient way to donate textiles.

If you have clothing, shoes or accessories that you no longer use and cannot give away (and cannot wait for the next textile collection day), you may be able to donate them to local retailers and organizations. If they are not in decent condition to donate, you can consider recycling with Terracycle. Some donation locations, such as Goodwill, are able to send clothing for recycling, when they cannot resell it.

Odds are that you have some extra stuff hanging around. Whether it’s living in the garage, closets, in a toy box, or somewhere else, extra stuff takes up space (or requires extra storage) and is a fact of life for most people. With the busy lifestyles that most lead, taking care of extra stuff can seem like a challenging task.

Donate Your Stuff
Please consider donating your extra stuff to places that will get use out of them. The following is provided by CVSan for informational purposes only. Contact one of the organizations or centers listed below for complete details, including drop-off or pick-up guidelines for reusable goods: Salvation ArmySaversGoodwill DublinGoodwill HaywardEl Cerrito Recycling CenterUrban OreEast Bay Depot for Creative ReuseHabitat for HumanityChabot College Flea MarketHayward Area Recreation & Park District (HARD) Flea MarketJust Between Friends, and the Castro Valley Freecycle Group.

Mail-in programs for items that you are not able to donate exist as well. For shoes, check out the Reuse-a-shoe program at Nike stores or the M.O.R.E. Foundation Group. For eyeglasses you can no longer use, The Lions Club has a great program that reuses and recycles eyeglasses to get them to those in need.

Evaluating What You Have
Lastly, while throwing extra things in the garage or attic can be an easy quick-fix, those items may get lost and forgotten about, even if you need them one day. Keeping on top of the extra stuff you have (and new things coming in) can be a big help. You can regularly evaluate what you have and store things so that they are less likely to be wasted.

Bea Johnson, Author of Zero Waste Home, finds that storing things so that you can see them (containers/cabinets/shelfs that are not as deep) helps you remember they are there and you are less likely to forget about them or waste them.

When preparing to move, think outside the brown cardboard box. Instead of wrapping everything in new bubble wrap, packing tape, and packing materials that may end up in a landfill, here are some helpful tips and options to consider.

  • Think about where you’re moving to. What’s the weather like? How much space will you have (or won’t have)? Look at what you are about to spend a lot of time and effort packing. Does it have meaning or usefulness in your new home? 
  • If you have extra furniture, clothing or other items such as household electronics and housewares, sell or give them away instead of throwing them away. CVSan has a helpful web page for that too.
  • Donate your extra non-perishable food to those in need through Move For Hunger.

Pack your items in clothing, towels and sheets that you’ll be washing and using again rather than in something that needs to be thrown away or recycled. Check out Rent A Green for rentable and reusable moving containers instead of using disposable boxes and tape. 

Make sure items that are fragile are marked as such and care is taken to keep them from breaking. And if you have things left over, don’t forget to schedule your annual Bulky & Reuse Pick-Up.

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