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Outdoor living

Garages and sheds

A family tidying the garage

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In many garages there's a range of old unwanted chemicals, paints and items that should be disposed of carefully as well as treasures waiting to be given new life. If you're having a clean-up, you can reduce waste going to landfill from your garage by using what you have instead of buying new products, disposing of waste carefully, and recycling objects that still have life in them. Greening your garage could also save you space, time and money and increase the safety of your home. Plus you'll make use of things you may have had lying around for years. Things you can do include:

  • Sorting items carefully. Rather than dumping items into the rubbish and adding to landfill, divide items into separate piles—items you wish to sell, donate, fix, recycle or dispose of. Next, sort waste items into recyclables and chemical waste. There are services for used oil, batteries and paints in many locations. Check out Planet Ark's RecyclingNearYou for more information on how and where to recycle your waste items.
  • Holding a garage sale. It's a great way to give a second life to unused items, de-clutter your garage or shed, and make a few extra dollars along the way. You can find a new home for items you no longer use or need and meet the neighbours at the same time. Items that you don't sell can be given away.
  • Re-using and upcycling. Put old items you may have forgotten about to good use by re-using them or giving them a new life as part of something else. Used carpet and scrap wood can become a scratching post for the cat. Cleaned empty tins and tubs can be decorated and used as storage containers. An old basket could be attached to your bike. Once you get started the ideas are limitless.
  • Clearing out chemicals and harsh cleaning products. Ensure you dispose of hazardous and chemical waste like motor oil, batteries, oven cleaners and pool and spa chemicals safely. Contact your local council or visit the Planet Ark website for hazardous waste collection and disposal services in your area. You can avoid needing to dispose of these items in the future by switching to low impact non-toxic alternatives where available.
  • Sharing power tools and garden equipment. Do a stock-take of what you own and consider your needs. You might not need to own every tool. With those items you're likely to use only a few times why not share with friends, neighbours and the wider community 'collaborative consumption' is the modern term for renting, lending, swapping and gifting products over the internet. Search for websites that allow you to find what you need and share what you have. You'll reduce waste, and the energy required to manufacture new goods, as well as the number of unused items taking up space in your garage.
  • Consider your car. Driving efficiently and maintaining your car can help save on fuel and greenhouse gas emissions. If you're thinking about upgrading or buying a new car the GreenVehicleGuide is a great place to start. For the least cost and healthy choice, you could also include cycling in your transport options. Service your bike as part of your garage clean up so it's ready for your next ride.
  • Power tools. Check out our guides to purchasing and using power tools efficiently to save money on energy costs. Consider using a manual tool to do the job where possible.
  • Insulating your garage door. If your garage is attached to your home, you can also save on heating and cooling costs by upgrading to an insulated garage door. Or do it yourself with a kit from your local hardware store.

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