If the urge to clean out your closet strikes, don’t toss your old clothes.

When you're done with your clothes, their life cycle has just begun.

Spring cleaning has been around since long before Martha Stewart.

Historians think the tradition of spring cleaning evolved because, especially in colder climates, people tended to hole up in their houses during the winter. Families spent most of their time indoors with fires and wood stoves burning because of the cold weather. You can imagine how grimy your house might get if you were trying to stay warm for several months without electricity or central heat.



GIF from "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs."

When spring came and brought warmer weather with it, families (OK, let’s be real — women) threw open the windows, let the fresh air in, and cleaned out all the soot and dust that had accumulated over the winter.

That makes a lot of sense to me. This winter, I learned about the concept of koselig, which means “cozy” in Norwegian. People in Norway get through long, dark winters by embracing koselig: staying inside with blankets, lighting candles, drinking hot chocolate. So that’s what I did. I went out less and invited friends over to my house for wine more. I lit candles every night. I walked around the house in a blanket draped over my shoulders like a cape.

Pretty much sums up my winter. GIF from "Parks and Recreation."

Of course, winter in Texas is a lot shorter than winter in Norway. But still, by the time daylight saving time came around, I was ready to pack up my coats and blankets and have a major cleaning day.

A couple of weeks ago, I spent my entire Saturday deep-cleaning my house — for the very first time.

Don't get me wrong. I clean my house regularly. I'm not Oscar the Grouch. But I hadn't done a full, capital-A Adult, all-day spring cleaning before. Here's what I learned.

1. The best way to avoid throwing away junk is to stop buying junk.

Half of spring cleaning is just going through all the stuff you own and throwing away what you don't want or need. I found things that I've bought over the past year that I haven't even used once: a vegetable steamer, cookbooks, clothes that I only wore once or twice. After taking a long, hard look at my "get rid of it" pile, I'm going to be a lot more cognizant about my purchases this year. It's a win-win: saving money and cutting down on waste.

2. You can donate or recycle pretty much anything.

Lots of reusable items end up in landfills when they could have found new homes. It's bad for the Earth, and it just feels better to donate your stuff instead of trashing it.

Clothing and textiles are some of the worst offenders. Even those holey jeans and worn-down shoes that can't be resold could eventually be recycled and repurposed into home insulation or rags. But 85% of recyclable clothing ends up in the trash. Make sure to donate all of your old clothes and towels, not just the ones you think would sell.

Wow, this person is organized. Photo via velkr0/Flickr.

3. Having less stuff makes us value the stuff we do have more.

Seriously. Marie Kondo hasn't sold millions of copies of her book for naught. Making a conscious choice to keep the clothing and other household items I love and to send the ones I'm done with on to their next owner — who, with any luck, will love them just as much as I once did — is empowering. Plus, living in a tidy environment is good for your mental and physical health, and a great way to keep your home tidy is by having less stuff to tidy up.

Clothes are much happier here than in a landfill. Photo via Neesa Rajbhandari/Wikimedia Commons.

So what are you waiting for? Go forth and clean! And when it's time to take all your old stuff to a resale shop, snap a pic and post it on our Facebook page.

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Savers

On an old episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in July 1992, Oprah put her audience through a social experiment that puts racism in a new light. Despite being nearly two decades old, it's as relevant today as ever.

She split the audience members into two groups based on their eye color. Those with brown eyes were given preferential treatment by getting to cut the line and given refreshments while they waited to be seated. Those with blue eyes were made to put on a green collar and wait in a crowd for two hours.

Staff were instructed to be extra polite to brown-eyed people and to discriminate against blue-eyed people. Her guest for that day's show was diversity expert Jane Elliott, who helped set up the experiment and played along, explaining that brown-eyed people were smarter than blue-eyed people.

Watch the video to see how this experiment plays out.

Oprah's Social Experiment on Her Audience www.youtube.com

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via Cadbury

Cadbury has removed the words from its Dairy Milk chocolate bars in the U.K. to draw attention to a serious issue, senior loneliness.

On September 4, Cadbury released the limited-edition candy bars in supermarkets and for every one sold, the candy giant will donate 30p (37 cents) to Age UK, an organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for the elderly.

Cadbury was prompted to help the organization after it was revealed that 225,000 elderly people in the UK often go an entire week without speaking to another person.

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Well Being

Young people today are facing what seems to be greater exposure to complex issues like mental health, bullying, and youth violence. As a result, teachers are required to be well-versed in far more than school curriculum to ensure students are prepared to face the world inside and outside of the classroom. Acting as more than teachers, but also mentors, counselors, and cheerleaders, they must be equipped with practical and relevant resources to help their students navigate some of the more complicated social issues – though access to such tools isn't always guaranteed.

Take Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, for example, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years, and as a teacher for seven. Entering the profession, she didn't anticipate how much influence a student's home life could affect her classroom, including "students who lived in foster homes" and "lacked parental support."

Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience, says it can be difficult to create engaging course work that's applicable to the challenges students face. "I think that sometimes, teachers don't know where to begin. Teachers are always looking for ways to make learning in their classrooms more relevant."

So what resources do teachers turn to in an increasingly fractured world? "Joining a professional learning network that supports and challenges thinking is one of the most impactful things that a teacher can do to support their own learning," Anglemyer says.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience.

A new program for teachers that offers this network along with other resources is the WE Teachers Program, an initiative developed by Walgreens in partnership with ME to WE and Mental Health America. WE Teachers provides tools and resources, at no cost to teachers, looking for guidance around the social issues related to poverty, youth violence, mental health, bullying, and diversity and inclusion. Through online modules and trainings as well as a digital community, these resources help them address the critical issues their students face.

Jessica Mauritzen, a high school Spanish teacher, credits a network of support for providing her with new opportunities to enrich the learning experience for her students. "This past year was a year of awakening for me and through support… I realized that I was able to teach in a way that built up our community, our school, and our students, and supported them to become young leaders," she says.

With the new WE Teachers program, teachers can learn to identify the tough issues affecting their students, secure the tools needed to address them in a supportive manner, and help students become more socially-conscious, compassionate, and engaged citizens.

It's a potentially life-saving experience for students, and in turn, "a great gift for teachers," says Dr. Sanderlin.

"I wish I had the WE Teachers program when I was a teacher because it provides the online training and resources teachers need to begin to grapple with these critical social issues that plague our students every day," she adds.

In addition to the WE Teachers curriculum, the program features a WE Teachers Award to honor educators who go above and beyond in their classrooms. At least 500 teachers will be recognized and each will receive a $500 Walgreens gift card, which is the average amount teachers spend out-of-pocket on supplies annually. Teachers can be nominated or apply themselves. To learn more about the awards and how to nominate an amazing teacher, or sign up for access to the teacher resources available through WE Teachers, visit walgreens.com/metowe.

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via KGW-TV / YouTube

One of the major differences between women and men is that women are often judged based on their looks rather than their character or abilities.

"Men as well as women tend to establish the worth of individual women primarily by the way their body looks, research shows. We do not do this when we evaluate men," Naomi Ellemers Ph.D. wrote in Psychology Today.

Dr. Ellers believes that this tendency to judge a woman solely on her looks causes them to be seen as an object rather than a person.

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Culture