Ready to do an eco-friendly garage cleanout? Check out these tips for eco-friendly ways to organize and clean out your garage.
A couple of weeks ago, we spent a weekend morning cleaning out our garage. I know, you’re jealous… The clutter of sports equipment, old tools and products, and a growing collection of bikes had built up enough to warrant a bit of clean up.
Eco-Friendly Ways To Organize and Clean Out Your Garage
Cleaning out the garage isn’t a hard task, but there are many steps we can take to ensure that the process has as minimal an impact on the environment and our communities as possible. I’ve compiled a few eco-friendly ways to organize and clean out your garage that hopefully help you thoughtfully and responsibly clean out your garage to reduce the impact on the environment.
Properly Dispose of Old Products and Supplies
Garages have a tendency to be home to some of the toxic chemicals, products, and supplies we don’t necessarily want in our houses. Eventually, those things no longer serve us and don’t even warrant space in the garage.
Before you toss out things like old paint, cleaning supplies, and other chemical-laden products, consider if they belong in the trash. A quick Google search should help you determine if the product is safe for the trash. Your municipality or trash collection company may also have guides on their website.
If the product isn’t safe for the trash, find the proper disposal location or process. Some paints, for example, simply need to be mixed with other ingredients to make them safe for the garbage bin. Other items, however, might warrant a trip to a special disposal facility that is equipped to handle the toxins and chemicals in the product.
Alternatively, you could offer these products in your local Buy Nothing Group or on Facebook Marketplace to someone who might want these products for free. A half can of paint might be just the thing a neighbor needs to finish a project or update a space in their house.
Repurpose Items Where Possible
Before throwing items in the trash, consider if you can use the items cluttering up your garage for something else? Can you upcycle items or use them as is elsewhere in your house?
For example, we have an old window that has been hanging around (no pun intended) since we moved into our home. The contractors removed the window during our kitchen renovation, and we haven’t touched it in years. We also have a variety of pieces of wood that were leftover from other projects.
I had no idea what to do with the window or the wood until I recently decided that I wanted to make a cold frame planter box. I can use this mini greenhouse to start growing seedlings when it’s too cold to leave them outside unprotected.
(I need to convince either my father-in-law or my friend Jess to help me build this because my construction skills are shoddy at best, but fingers crossed I’ll be able to make it happen.)
Not only do I love that we can put this old window to good use instead of putting it in the trash, but it’s pretty neat to have a one-of-a-kind planter box that I created (with a little help) from scratch.
Get a light workout and do the environment a favor by simply sweeping out your garage to clean it out instead of using blowers or other electric tools. Fancy tools require battery power or energy to clean out all the spaces in your garage that can just as easily be wiped clean with a broom and a bit of elbow grease.
Responsibly Declutter Your Garage
As you clean our your garage, you’ll likely find some things you no longer need. Overcome the temptation to carelessly toss everything in trash or run it to your local thrift shop. Much of that will end up unsold and in the trash anyway.
Post items for sale or for free in online sharing communities like Buy Nothing Groups, Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, and Freecycle pages. If you have items that are of particular value, try to sell them before giving them away. Here are some expert tips on making money selling on Facebook Marketplace.
If you’re more focused on moving things out of your garage quickly, post them for free. You’d be surprised how quickly you’ll find someone who is happy to take things off your hands (especially when they are free!).
When we cleaned out our garage, I posted about fifty items on Facebook Marketplace for free. All but four of the items were picked up from our front porch or the curb in under forty-eight hours. Not only was it convenient and better than throwing everything in the trash, but I loved connecting with my neighbors who could put our old things to great new use.
Donate To The “Right” Thrift Shop
In some cases, a thrift shop might make the most sense for some of the items in your garage you no longer need. Try to find the thrift shop that makes the most sense.
Habitat for Humanity has a chain of ReStore shops that support their home-building projects. The stores specialize in carrying and selling construction and home project materials. These types of donations would likely be better suited for a ReStore location than your local charity shop or Salvation Army store. Do your best to be thoughtful about donating things to the places where they are most likely to find the right home.
Organize With Containers Your Already Have
Group and store similar items together in jars and containers you already have around the house. Tin cans and glass jars from your kitchen are perfect for nails and screws, screwdrivers, and even sidewalk chalk for the kids. Glass jars are super easy to clean with these tips.
Ask Friends For Storage and Organization Supplies
If you need extra supplies like hooks, pegboards, and shelves to organize your garage, start by asking family or friends if they have extras on hand. We saved money and prevented the purchase of something brand new when we got bike hooks from my father-in-law. They already had them on hand and weren’t using them, so it was an easy and free solution to our bike clutter dilemma. You could also ask for these in your local Buy Nothing Group, where it’s often allowed to post requests for items you are looking for.
Use Online Sharing Communities To Find Things You Need
Search the same Buy Nothing groups, Facebook Marketplace, Freecycle, Craiglist, and more to find the shelving, hooks, and other items you need to organize your garage that you can’t get from family, friends, or elsewhere in your home. Be sure to see what you already have that you may not be using. It’s surprising sometimes how much stuff we already have when we re-examine what’s hiding out in the back of the closet, the basement storage space, or the random junk drawer.
Hire An Eco-Friendly Junk Removal Company
If cleaning out your garage is too much to handle on your own or you just don’t have the time or resources, consider hiring an eco-friendly junk removal company to do the heavy lifting for you. There are many of these types of companies popping up around the country, so search online for eco-friendly junk removal companies in your local area.
These companies pick up many of the things you no longer need. Then they do the hard work of finding the responsible distribution channels to find new homes and proper disposal channels for things that are no longer useful.
Be Thoughtful About Efficient Use of Space
While not a specific eco-friendly decluttering or organizational tip, we often forget that one of the most eco-friendly living steps we can take is to make the most use of the space we already have. Not long ago, we thought about doing renovations that included expanding our garage.
With a few hooks, use of Facebook Marketplace to find new homes for things we no longer needed, and some creative adaptations to the storage shelves in our garage we made space for all the things we wanted to keep and soon realized we didn’t need the extra space at all.
By better utilizing our current space, we not only saved a lot of money but we also eliminated the environmental impact of using new resources to build the garage addition as well as all of the energy it takes to complete construction and maintain the structure throughout its life.
Cleaning out and organizing your garage in an eco-friendly way can involve small steps and big decisions. If we stick to the mindset of reducing consumption and being creative about the space and stuff we already have, we might be surprised about how many of our needs can already be met without buying more things or spending more money.
What eco-friendly or sustainable tips and ideas do you have to declutter and organize your garage to make the most efficient use of your space and ensure that items you no longer need find the best possible home? Leave your suggestions in the comments so we can all try them out ourselves!