By Angie Howard

I don't know about you, but at our home, we are still recovering from the holidays and the profusion of toys that Santa miraculously crammed down our chimney. I think next year we might have to build a raging fire late Christmas evening so maybe only about half of St. Nick's bundles will make it down the stovepipe and, consequently, to our already "oozing from its hinges" toy closets.
I am an organizer by nature, a character trait which causes within me a feeling of near panic on Christmas night as I sit back on the couch and survey the sea of toys now freed from their packaging and scattered on our floor. The panic is mixed with an overwhelming desire to go and purchase storage totes in every size available to manage this season's treasures and a solemn vow to put more in school savings accounts and gift more to charity in the names of my children the next year.
We do have one seasonal ritual that I'd assume many of you share as well, which aids in carving out a few precious inches to cram the yuletide loot into. We take stock of what we've got and we downsize the old to make room for the new, with the disclaimer that our methods of room-making must be environmentally friendly in nature.
For those of you who also partake in the post-Christmas downsizing practice and desire "green" habits of doing so, here are some local ways to clear out the clutter in your home, all the while helping to preserve our planet:

Give the Good Stuff to the Goodwill
(or similar charitable organizations)
This method is a popular one for us. It's a wonderful way to encourage my boys to pick out toys that are in good condition and donate those toys to other children. While we choose which toys to donate it is a great time to talk about how thankful we are for our new gifts and how thankful the recipients of the toys we are donating will be when they receive them.
Recycle Older and Broken Plastic Toys
What exciting news for any parent plowing through a mountain of broken plastic "Little Tikes" toys that Conway Sanitation Department now accepts all numbered plastics for recycling; including these toys! Just toss your broken plastic toys directly in the blue recycling cart if you are a customer of Conway Sanitation Department. If you are a county resident, take them to your nearest community recycling trailer or you can take them to the Conway Recycling Facility, located at 4550 Hwy 64 West, open Monday through Saturday from 7:30 a.m. until 4:00 p.m.
Plan a Post-Yuletide Yard Sale
You may want to let the temperature warm up a few degrees before entertaining this suggestion, but why not pull out those long-neglected toys and earmark them for an early spring yard sale. One child's trash is truly another's treasure; my kids have found some of their favorite items shopping at yard sales! Your children will love to be involved in helping set reasonable prices for their goods and you can further engage them in the activity by purchasing a box or two of donuts to sell along with some soda or juice during the morning. We did this as a joint activity with our neighbors several months ago and the kids had a blast running their own yard sale snack bar! The money your kids earn from the sale of their toys would be great added to a savings account or donated to a local charityâ¦just don't sabotage yourself and let them buy more toys with it!!!
E-Cycle Outdated Electronicsâ¦
it's Free this Spring!
Thankfully, Faulkner County residents have a terrific and free opportunity to responsibly dispose of replaced and outdated electronic items at the semi-annual E-Cycle Drive hosted by the Faulkner County Solid Waste Management District and City of Conway Sanitation Department. Clean out those old game systems, computers, PDAs, and Stereos and place them in a box awaiting the magic date of April 2, 2009, when residents of Faulkner County can once again bring their old E-waste to the Faulkner County Fairgrounds for recycling from 8:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m.
So, now armed with these suggestions, go and tackle that toy closet! Involve your children in the task, and explain to them the blessings that come from sharing what good things we have with others; and recycling the not-so-good stuff to benefit our planet.