During my recent spring cleaning extravaganza, while digging through my closet for things to throw away I accumulated quite the pile of clothing, used notebooks, and what I felt was junk. I threw the pile into a garbage bag, and prepared it for its departure to the trash can. After thinking about it for a minute, I wondered, is there anybody else who could benefit from my spring cleaning?

If you decide to downsize this spring, whether it be your closet, your desk, or your pantry, you should consider donating or repurposing your items instead of throwing them away. Before, during, and after cleaning, it is important to go through your things and decide what can be thrown, recycled, and given away. You should always throw away trash that is not recyclable, recycle old paper or plastic, and if you find things that you no longer need or use but are still in working condition, you should give them away.

You can be sustainable even if you do not have a car or time to drive to one of the many donation centers in Fargo-Moorhead; you are actually able to donate your gently used goods right here on campus. The Free Store, located in the basement of Park Region Hall, is run by our campus Eco-Reps. The Free Store takes all sorts of donations: clothing, furniture, books, and more can be taken to the space in an effort to maintain and promote sustainability on campus. Aside from being able to drop off your things, you are also able to “shop” in the store, which is always open and free to students on campus. By utilizing the store, you are not only decreasing garbage waste, but you are also giving someone else the opportunity to enjoy something new.

It is important to be mindful of what you donate or give away, though. Just because you no longer want something does not guarantee that someone else will want it either. If your clothing has rips or stains, you may want to consider turning your shirts into cleaning rags or your jeans into shorts. According to www.thebalance.com, 15 million tons of used clothing waste is generated each year in the United States, and this amount has doubled over the past 20 years.

If you have lots of loose leaf or notebook paper that you have been meaning to get rid of all semester but have not touched yet, make sure to recycle used paper in your residence hall or on campus and give away or donate notebooks that are still full of unused pages.

If you are not ready to part from your belongings, repurposing them is always an option. Turn old bottles into vases. Create a tiny garden by planting small plants in old cups. Wash and reuse your plastic take-out containers from restaurants. Aside from just cutting down on waste, repurposing can be a fun and easy way to vamp up your old goods.

Though others may benefit from the the donation of my goods, my donation has benefitted me as well. Cutting down on my personal belongings has helped me separate myself from seemingly important material goods in my life along with helping others and the environment. Cutting down on your possessions has certainly helped me, and it may help you, too. So do some spring cleaning this year to help free up some space in your dorm, to help somebody else, and to help yourself.