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Embrace the three R’s when it comes to spring cleaning your house

(Public Domain Photo)

You probably have heard about the three R’s before — and I’m not talking about reading, writing and ‘rithmetic.

I’m talking about the environmental phrase that started in the 1970s: reduce, reuse and recycle.

It’s also a great way to approach spring cleaning at your house. Reduce clutter and waste, reuse things you might otherwise throw away and recycle everything from newspapers to aluminum cans to branches, weeds and leaves.

What follows are suggestions for your home under each category.

Reducing clutter:

  • Use washable rags for cleaning. Use cloth napkins to avoid buying as many paper towels and paper napkins as you have been doing.
  • Donate old clothing and furniture to local charities in an effort to increase available storage space in your home.
  • Cut down on junk mail by putting in a request with the Direct Marketing Association website.
  • Pay more bills online.
  • Use a cloth or canvas shopping bag when you buy groceries at the supermarket. That way you’ll avoid bringing home plastic bags that need to be thrown away later.
  • Donate old books to libraries.
  • Store computer and important document files electronically rather than printing out copies.
  • Clean out desks and filing cabinets to remove old, unnecessary papers and documents. Shred the documents and you can recycle the shredded paper by putting it in your recycling can in a clear plastic bag.
  • Donate old surplus building materials to Habitat for Humanity or similar charities.
  • Hold a garage sale if you can’t bear to throw away those old clothes and knickknacks.

Reusing or repurposing your possessions:

  • Old newspapers and boxes can be saved to use for packing things you want to mail. Don’t get carried away, however, or you might end up with piles of empty boxes in your garage.
  • Donate old electronic equipment to schools or charities.
  • Try to use rechargeable batteries to avoid buying new ones.
  • Don’t buy new outdoor furniture. Refurbish the old with a coat of paint, plus add new cushions if needed.
  • If you subscribe to newspapers and magazines, offer to pass them on to friends or neighbors.
  • Before buying new appliances, try to have them repaired instead of junking them. The truth is that parts are available to replace your refrigerator icemaker or the heating mechanism in your stove. Sometimes an old washer and dryer can last twice as long as newer equipment.
  • Reupholster old couches that have sturdy construction and repaint old furniture that may be have a color scheme that’s gone out of style.
  • Keep better track of the shelf life of canned goods and other groceries so that you avoid throwing out uneaten food.

Recycling waste products and materials:

  • Use recycled, low-quality paper for printing and copying.
  • Buy refillable toner and printer cartridges.
  • Set up a recycling program at your office for paper.
  • Buy products made from recycled materials.
  • Set up a home composting program to recycle food peelings, weeds and coffee grounds to fertilize your plants.
  • Be sure you’re clear on what can go into the curbside recycling program in your community and what cannot. Find out where you can dispose of paints and other chemicals by looking at your disposal company’s website.
  • Avoid buying hazardous materials, such as e overly large supplies of pesticide, that can be difficult to recycle.

And if you’re seriously interested in getting more involved in the three R’s, check out the Arizona Recycling Coalition, a group of non-profit organizations devoted to waste reuse, reduction and recycling in our state. The group holds classes, events and conferences and even awards scholarships.

For more homeowner advice, DIY tips and videos, and information about all the projects around your house, home, castle or cabin, visit Arizona’s largest collection of homeowner DIY advice and information at

And if you are in need of a quality contractor you know you can trust, visit our list of Arizona’s very best contractors or service providers for your home improvement projects at – Arizona’s most-trusted referral network.

Tune in to KTAR every Saturday morning from 7-11 a.m. for the Rosie on the House broadcast!

Rosie on the House

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