That Spring Feeling
We’re barely mid-February, which means (believe it or not) spring is on the way! For many of us that may come with a desire to re-organize our homes and declutter. Simplifying our lives by minimizing belongings is a good way to reduce stress and anxiety. What better way to reset than with a good spring cleaning!
However, it can also be wasteful if you’re sending everything you declutter to the landfill. In this post I’ll share my top tips for spring cleaning in a sustainable way.
1. Does It Bring You Joy?
Any fans of the Marie Kondo will understand how important this step is! As she emphasizes, before choosing to part with an item, ask yourself if it brings you joy or not.
The last thing you’d want is to part with an item then realize you miss it or need to repurchase it! So, to avoid this be sure to make your spring cleaning a mindful activity. This will ensure you only declutter items that you are ready to part with.
2. Could It Bring Someone Else Joy?
Once you’ve sorted through the things you’d like to declutter from your house, go through the items with the people in your life in mind. Are you getting rid of things someone else may find value in?
This is an important step because it is always better to find a new loving home for an item before choosing to donate it or throw it away. This way, that item can be used for longer rather than become waste!
3. What’s the Re-Sale Value?
If you’re stumped on who you can gift or sell something to, why not try making the item available for anyone to buy? These days there are lots of places where anyone can list items up for sale online – such as Facebook Marketplace, Kijiji, Craigslist etc.
Be sure to follow safe selling practices if you go this route! Selling items in this way is another great option to ensure your item will be used beyond its time with you. If someone is willing to pay for an item, they are telling you they plan on using it, thus preventing it from becoming a waste product!
4. To Donate or Not to Donate?
Unfortunately, not all items we may want to declutter during spring cleaning have resale value. This is when people may turn to donating their items to a thrift store. This CAN be a good option but it is important to remember that not all items in a thrift store will be bought.
In fact, 80 to 90 per cent of donated clothing isn’t being resold in Canada. This means theses items may get sent to landfills, or sold to other countries which wipes out local textile industries. You can read more on this in our post, Why We Need Sustainable Fashion.
To avoid, this consider donating your items to specialty thrift stores (some specialize in re-selling craft supplies for example). These more curated stores are more likely to sell their inventory! Along the same lines, if you have high quality clothing or accessories to donate, look into selling to consignment stores! Lastly, before donating, try out tips 5 and 6 to see if your item can be repaired or repurposed instead!
5. Don’t Forget the Second R!
Most people learn about the 3 Rs of recycling (reduce, reuse, recycle) but many of us default to the third R – recycle. Before jumping ahead we need to consider what that second R means! Reusing incorporates things like finding a new purpose for an item (discussed below!) and repairing an item!
Not sure where to start? Try learning how to sew patches onto ripped fabric, how to do visible mending or bring old shoes/clothes to a cobbler or seamstress for professional help! Repairing helps to breathe new life old clothing items – either for yourself or to sell with added value! The same goes for electronics; see if you can repair or replace broken parts before tossing in the trash.
6. Second R – Take Two!
This is a step to consider if repairing won’t work. Ask yourself if this item can be repurposed into something new! For example, old towels can be cut up into cleaning cloths, ripped jeans can be cut into shorts etc…. The possibilities are endless! If you’re not the creative type, Google and Pinterest are full of inspiration!
7. Disposal ≠ Landfill!
Finally, as a last resort, learn how to properly recycle or dispose of items that cannot be repaired, repurposed or donated. Start by learning about what kinds of waste are accepted by your municipality. If you have limited recycling options, try branching out and see if you can drop items off elsewhere to be recycled.
For example, look into e-waste drop off events. You can also look into local textile and shoe recycling options – such as those offered by municipalities or organizations such as The Blue Jeans Go Green. A quick Google Search will help you to find options that work for you!
8. A Minimalism Mindset
Moving forward, try to adopt a minimalism mindset – try only buying things you need to prevent creating clutter. Consider creating a “wish list” for yourself. When you find something you want to buy on an impulse add it to your list. If after some time passes, say 30 days, and you still want it then allow yourself to buy it!
Digital minimalism definitively does not reject the innovations of the internet age, but instead rejects the way so many people currently engage with these tools”– Cal Newport, Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World
9. Find Your Hidden Clutter
It can be easy to declutter physical items like clothes, electronics etc., but have you ever thought about other places you may be holding on to clutter? Consider…
- Cleaning supplies: who needs a million different sprays and chemicals to clean? Consider swapping for a good all-purpose cleaner to simplify your cleaning routine. Maybe even try out a homemade alternative! Vinegar, baking soda, and lemon go a long way.
- Digital clutter: are you someone who always has way too many tabs open on your browser, or keeps your desktop filled with file icons? You’re not alone! Research is finding that digital clutter can also lead to increased stress. The solution? Take some time or organize your email inbox, sort your files and photos and only keep what’s important. Check out the book “Digital Minimalism” to learn more!
10. Share Your Spring Cleaning Success!
This is the most important tip! The more people know about sustainable spring cleaning the better! A few ideas to get you started:
- Get your kids and family members involved.
- Start an annual sustainable spring cleaning challenge with your neighbours.
- Organize stuff swaps in the community to help with re-homing items you’ve decluttered.
- Swap resources for recycling different materials with friends and family.
- Know someone who has some sewing skills? See if they’re open to teach others! Try organizing sewing workshops (can be virtual!) and get even more people involved!
Leap Into Sustainable Spring Cleaning!
Did you find these tips to be helpful? Do you have any others to add? Leave a comment and let us know! Wishing you the best of luck in your sustainable spring cleaning endeavours this year!
Editing by Marc-Antoni Tarondo.