Northeast Wisconsin
  • Northeast Wisconsin
  • January 2014
Written by  Jennifer Semrau

Post-holiday housecleaning

Now that the holidays have passed, do you find yourself with more “stuff” in your home than you did a month ago? Time for January purging and cleaning! Consider these tips for de-cluttering and reducing the amount of things taking up space in your home.

  1. For every new gift, find at least one, if not two, like items to part with (old toys for new toys; old sweaters for new sweaters, etc.).
  2. Assess clothing and shoes. If you have not worn something for a year, take it out of your closet.
  3. Evaluate one room at a time so it is not overwhelming. Start with a bedroom, for instance, and put aside anything you don’t love or use. After the bedroom, move on to the living room, etc.

When purging, it is helpful to be organized. The “box method” is an excellent way to clear clutter quickly and in an orderly manner. Label several boxes with the words:

  • Trash
  • Recycle
  • Donate
  • Sell
  • Store/Put Away

Sentimental or infrequently used items should be stored or put away so they are not invading your everyday spaces. The “sell” box is for objects with monetary value that can be sold at a garage sale or online. Local charities accept items of any value, as long as they are still in good, useable condition. Place these items in your “donate” box. The rest of the materials will go in your “recycle” or “trash” boxes.

Many items are recyclable and some are required to be recycled by state law. The state requires that electronics such as computers, printers, laptops, televisions, VCRs, DVD players and cell phones be recycled, as they are all banned from landfills. However, many places that accept the above recyclables will also likely accept and recycle other electronics, such as video game consoles, digital cameras and stereo systems. Also, major appliances need to be recycled in Wisconsin, including washers, dryers, ovens, stoves, dishwashers, refrigerators, freezers, air conditioners, dehumidifiers and microwaves. In addition, batteries, light bulbs, books, magazines, plastic bags and items made of mostly metal can all be recycled.

The “trash” box is for anything else that doesn’t belong in the abovementioned categories. If you have a lot of material or items that are bulky (worn or broken furniture, for example) and you do not have a truck or trailer, you can avoid multiple trips to your local landfill or municipal drop-off by renting a dumpster. Dumpsters are typically available in a number of sizes to meet your needs. They can be placed right at your residence for efficient home clean-out over a weekend or longer.

Too much clutter can make a person feel bogged down, even unhappy, stressed or depressed. In the new year, take charge and organize your home, clearing out what you no longer want or need. You’ll feel more positive with your home refreshed for 2014.

Jennifer Semrau is the recycling specialist for Winnebago County Solid Waste in Oshkosh, overseeing the county’s recycling, hazardous material, container rental and sales/marketing programs. She is also the former president of the Associated Recyclers of Wisconsin and recipient of the 2013 Christy Dixon Recycler of the Year Award. For more information, visit or call 920.232.1850.


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