There's a lot of great information in this post and I encourage you to read through it ... however, if you don't have the time right now, you might find the following quick links helpful:
Before we get started, just a reminder ... if you haven't already done so, be sure to link up your blog on this week's Meet & Greet (which you'll find HERE). While you're there, be sure to click on some of the blogs listed ... you'll find some truly wonderful posts and a lot of pertinent information.
Last week we did a little early spring cleaning with an emphasis on donating usable items. We heard from some folks who have spent the entire month of January purging their homes of excess "stuff" ... and from others who regularly, throughout the year, sort & donate. We learned how one person ensures that her home doesn't accumulate too much excess ... and how another decides which items should be donated. We even heard from one person who has been helped through the generosity of his community. The beauty of this challenge is that we simplified our lives by removing clutter, kept items out of landfills and (most importantly) helped others. What could be better than that!
The Honor Society are those people who help us spread the "green" word by writing a post about our challenges and/or leaving pertinent comments. Let's see what they had to say this week:
In this ARTICLE Kris shares that she loves to de-clutter and does it regularly. She then offers the items on Craigslist or donates them to the Veterans Foundation. She's going to contact her local animal shelter to see if they take used pet toys, etc. That's interesting, Kris ... I never considered that they might not want such items. Let us know what they say!
Mrs. Green said, Please share your decluttering secrets! She struggles with the process, in part because someone in her house is a "hoarder". That's a tough one! Check out her post and then ... check out the comments ... her readers stepped up and offered some terrific ideas.
We've heard of recycling, upcycling, and freecycling but have you ever heard of Neighborcycling? It's a brilliant concept! Our friend Rewinn shares that it is fun, promotes neighborhood security and keeps things out of landfills. He has both donated and received items and says that a bird bath is his favorite neighborcycle. You might be surprised at why it's his favorite.
Betty Manousos had some lovely words to say about our challenges. Thanks, so much, Betty ... your support and encouragement mean a lot!
Stephanie donates usable items but what does one do with the non-usable items? Toss them in the garbage? No siree ... in 12 uses for an old shirt she offers us some very creative ways to repurpose those shirts which are no longer appropriate to either wear or donate. She suggests using them to make leg warmers, produce bags and even head bands. Wow!
Brenna shares an interesting observation that no matter how much we give away, there always seems to be more. That's really an excellent point, Brenna ... perhaps this activity should really begin with the decision to NOT add to the mix.
Kristina took part in a month-long "purging" activity. You can read about how things went during Week 1 and what happened during Week 2. She includes the list of things she gave away and who received them. I learned a lot from reading through her list. For example, did you know that gift cards can be recycled? I didn't!
Alicia takes on this activity once every six months or so. What's her criteria for deciding which items to keep and which to donate? She says that if an item hasn't been used in a year then it is given away. But Alicia's generosity goes beyond just sorting through closets ... she donates some of her wonderful, organic soaps to shelters which offer bathing facilities to their visitors. How great is that!!
Ann includes our CTWW Banner in this PIECE. While the article, itself, doesn't speak to this week's challenge, it's a real "eye-opener". Most of live our green lives without fear from others ... but Ann tells us what happens when living green comes up against government policies and commerce.
Ed Pilolla is a new CTWW participant ... so nice to "see" you Ed! He shares that he recently donated a TV and rug and says that his local animal shelter needs blankets. He likes EcoGrrl's "rule" ... which you'll see if you read on.
EcoGrrl reminds us that not accumulating stuff in the first place is the key and that we should always ask ourselves if we truly need something before adding it to our collection of things. She has a rule ... "anytime you get something new, you have to give something away." I love that idea! She likes donating to SCRAP (scrappdx.org), an organization which provides educational programs and affordable materials to the community. Nice!
Sometimes we have items which aren't really appropriate for donating ... things like scruffy clothing. In a post entitled Blockhead, Dani shares a creative use for these things. And be sure to check out her side-bar labels and click on "recycling" ... you find posts on other creative ways to reuse items which can't be given away. By the way ... Dani lives in South Africa. I've enjoyed reading through her blog and learning how her green-living challenges, there, are a bit different than mine in America.
Argentum Vulgaris will be the first to say that Brazil has a ways to go when it comes to protecting the environment. But in this POST he shares that Brazilians excel in generosity and helping out neighbors. He offers us a different perspective on donating ... that of the person receiving items.
Donating is a big part of Jacqueline's life. In Reduce, Reuse, Freecycle she talks about what her family has recently donated and offers a strategy for keeping things out of landfills. Number 1 on her list ... Buy Quality.
I love visiting The Green House because Jordyn, the very creative author, regularly features beautiful, handcrafted items ... all made from repurposed materials. In fact, Jordyn, has an Etsy Shop full of upcycled creations. That's not all ... she shared a lovely way to donate ... in her words, "I just started my daughter's Girl Scout Daisies group and one of the "projects" I've introduced is having the girls bring in any little craft items that they have at home that is just lying around or have or have not been used that we can upcycle into other things for their "Swap Hats," a hat they wear that has items pinned on it that they receive and share with other girls they meet at camps, activities, field trips, meetings, etc. It's a good way for them to mingle and bond with other girls while keeping little things from being sent to the landfill. A little bit always helps, right?" Absolutely!
The Shopping Charity picked up several CTWW posts ... was one of them yours? Be sure to browse around ... other topics include Burma Sanctions, a new resource if you're looking for ancestors in Ohio, and how Vassar College mistakenly gave false hope to applicants.
Some of our twitter friends weighed in on this topic:
-Only 2 wks ago I took 3 big bags of stuff to the charity shop. Have definitely got more I could get rid of - just need to be stricter!
-Spring cleaning may unearth unused items. Old towels, bowls, plastic tubs & prescription bottles can be used at most animal shelters
-Upgrading your work gear & tools? Consider donating work boots, tools, etc to an org that helps unemployed people learn a trade
-Spring Cleaning? Local shelters welcome: sweaters, socks, coats, blankets, pillows, boots, shoes, mitts, gloves, sleeping bag
-Upcycle/Repurpose: After school programs use: toilet paper rolls, plastic tubs, cotton balls (from vitamin bottles) for art projects
-Donate old books, magazines, newspapers to literacy programs. These items are welcomed for after school programs as well
-Old computers & other technology items can be donated to after school programs, schools, adult learning centres...for use or repair.
-If your kids have outgrown their storybooks & games, Children's hospitals typically welcome these items that still have usefulness.
-One thing that can be reused over and over is a smile. Improve the environment by sharing your smiles & make someone's day. :)
-Already got another pile ready for donating for my #CTWW. I try to donate regularly actually. Nice to see stuff is still useful! :)
-took 2 bags of clothes to the local hospice just after new year and got another bag to go
The #CTWW Gang are those folks who share our challenges on twitter using the hashtag #CTWW. If you're a Twitter member, I highly recommend following them ... they have a lot of great things to say. Let's meet them:
My Final Thoughts: I used to work for a large company which recognized the perils of accumulating too much stuff ... both from a corporate standpoint and from the individual's perspective. They implemented a program which encouraged the following activities: sorting, simplifying, sweeping, standardizing, and self-discipline. The program saved the company money because it reduced the need for purchasing new items and reduced waste. It helped the individual because we had what we needed and could easily find it. The system improved our productivity and, in my opinion, made life easier. After all was said and done, it was the self-discipline that was key ... we had to be ever vigilant not to lapse into old ways and accumulate more than we needed. The lessons I learned there are very applicable to living a green life. Accumulating more than we need only serves to complicate our lives ... and typically results in overused, overstuffed landfills.
Thanks, everyone! If you wrote an article, I have Stumbled, Tweeted, Facebooked and posted it on Google +. You can help spread the "green" word by using the share feature at the bottom of this post.
This Week's Challenge:
This week's challenge comes from Mrs. Green. It is perfect because, in addition to being an Eco-friendly activity, it supports National Heart Month which begins today and runs for the entire month of February. Here it is ...
This week (and throughout the month), experiment with left over fruits and veggies by either blending them into smoothies or making soups. Fruits and veggies are very heart-healthy and finding creative uses for them instead of tossing them out is very earth-friendly (especially the ones which are slightly tired - check your refrigerators for these culprits). Be sure to come back and tell us about your efforts ... and offer recipes if you wish.
Thanks, Mrs. Green ... this challenge is a "trifecta" ... it supports heart health, reduces food waste and saves us money.
If you have a challenge for us, please send it to me HERE.
Until next time ...
WE'RE CHANGING THE WORLD ... ONE CHALLENGE AT A TIME!