Zero Waste Spring Cleaning Pt. 1 : Declutter Your Home
Spring is almost here! Tis the season for spring cleaning! But before you start pulling out the cleaners, let’s first look at how to declutter your home. We’ll go over some tips and resources for green house cleaning that will start this year off right without putting out tons of trash by the curb. Since there is so much to talk about when it comes to deep cleaning your home, I thought it would be better to break this up into a few posts. Don’t worry organizing and cleaning will come later.
In this first article, we will go over ways to get yourself motivated to clean and how to declutter your home in an eco-friendly and zero-waste way. It might even bring in some extra cash and make you some new friends along the way! So let’s get started!
Find Your Inner Cheerleader
With this being my first zero waste spring cleaning, I’m unusually excited about it. I’ve never been much of a clean freak, in fact, quite the opposite as many of my close friend will attest to.
I didn’t start making any habits of keeping a cleaner until I had my little girl. Now, if I don’t do it, the place looks like a tornado hit it within a day.
So really I can blame my kid for instilling some good habits into me (even if I feel like her personal maid most of the time). If you have kids, you probably have to declutter your home more than once a year.
With any huge undertaking, it can sometimes feel rather daunting when you look at the LONG list of things you need to do. But the biggest piece of advice I can give is to break it down into steps and think only about one step at a time. You can do this by either focusing on one room or project at a time and making it your goal to achieve that without thinking about the rest. That way you don’t kill your motivation before you even begin.
Other ways to get motivated to clean are:
- Don’t try to do everything in a day or weekend.
- Make a playlist of music that inspires you to move.
- Consider downloading a free step counting app on your phone (it can be exercise too).
- Plan a party (that’ll set a means to an end and deadline to keep to).
- Browse through home magazines for inspiration (ways to organize, arrange furniture, decorate, etc.)
- Get some help and make it into a game – this one is great especially if you have kids.
The next big favor you can do for yourself before you begin is by having a plan of attack (so to speak). Break the process of cleaning down into steps. Not only will this keep you from feeling overwhelmed but also will make use of your time wisely. This order works the best for me:
This order makes the most sense to me. First, you declutter your home then organize what’s left over and then once everything is put up, cleaning is easy. And since this post will focus on tips to declutter your home, I’ll start there.
How to Declutter Your Home (And Your Life?)
This was probably the hardest step for me and one I skipped very often. I’m not hoarder by nature, in fact, quite the opposite. I feel claustrophobic when I have too much stuff. My problem is much more insidious. I’m a full-time hobbyist or crafter at heart. I like to do a ton of different things and so I am always buying tools and other items to make my newest passion.
At one moment it is brewing, at another it is soapmaking, then crocheting, then glassblowing, then gardening, and then drawing or music, etc. (you get the idea). These hobbies will start to take up a surprising amount of space. And after a few seasons have flown by I suddenly realize I’m up to my neck in stuff and proceed to go through a manic purging process.
(Ahem) Now back to the topic at hand…
My whole point is it can be a very painful process to declutter your home and one that most people want to skip. But think about it this way: the less stuff you have, the less stuff you have to clean. And you don’t have to get rid of everything. Just stuff you’ve seen collecting dust in a closet or storage shed for a few years. And with that being said, closets and sheds are the exact best place to start the purging process.
Got a pair of shoes in the far back of the closet that you didn’t realize you still had because it has been that long since you wore them? Or maybe some scrapbooking items that you never got around to using?
These are the old friends it’s time to say goodbye to. “We had some good times ol’ chum. It’s not you, it’s me. I’ve grown since I first met you and it’s time to move on. No hard feelings, huh?” Yes, I do talk to my stuff sometimes. Once your closets have some open space you can use that to organize the stuff you want to keep.
But you don’t have to dump your old flame at the curbside after you declutter your home. Any perfectly good items that have some life left in them shouldn’t end up in the trash anyways as there is always someone out there who will love and appreciate them as well.
7 Ways to Donate or Unload Your Stuff
You can, of course, drop these bad boys off to your local Goodwill or other thrift store donation center. But there are a few other options out there you might not know about.
Buy Nothing Project
Haven’t heard of this group?
It is exactly how it sounds. The Buy Nothing group operates by carving out an area where anyone who lives in this region can post gently used items they no longer want and others in the group can let you know if they want it. It’s a great way to set up a sense of community and give back to neighbors. It is an especially good option for anyone with kids as half the items that get posted in my group are toys, cribs, children’s clothing, and the like.
But you are not just limited to just that! You can give away anything on here. Old glass bottles, leftover knitting yarn, Christmas paper, tools, appliances, and furniture (you name it). Even stuff you don’t think anyone else would want. One person’s trash is another person’s treasure, right?
Worse case, you donate it or recycle it if there are no takers but you’ll be surprised what other people will be happy to take off your hands. And who knows, you might even make a few friends along the way.
However, there are rules to join the group. Not only do you need to live within the area marked out but you cannot solicit, sell, or offer compensation for any item gifted or asked for. This is a community of people who
This is my favorite way to donate things. Not only am I helping a neighbor out but your community will notice your generosity. And generosity is contagious. If you are interested in finding a Buy Nothing group to join, they have a listing of groups by country and state (if in the US).
Don’t have a group in your area?
Why not become an admin and make one? The Buy Nothing website has all the information you need to start a Buy Nothing group for
Host or Find a Clothing Swap Party
Remember I mentioned planning a party to help you stay motivated to declutter your home. Why not make it a clothing swap party?
It’s exactly how it sounds! Everyone brings clothes they no longer want or fit and swap it out for clothes someone else brought. Facebook usually has a ton of these going on all the time and they are easy to start. Just do a search through FB or any social media you are on and you should be able to find one near you. Or even better, host one yourself in your soon-to-be immaculate house. It’s a great way to hang out with friends and make new ones!
If you’d rather make some money off your unwanted things, these shops are a great way to go. They tend to be a bit pickier about what they will take but what they do accept, you’ll make a few bucks for it. Every consignment shop is a little different on what they will accept and when a buyer is available. So I would suggest doing your research first before you show up with a trash bags full of clothes and shoes.
Ebay Giving Works
This is another great way to sell your unwanted items. The Ebay Giving Works program is a great way to sell your items and donate a percentage (10-100%) to a charity of your choice. Not only can you make a little cash, give some support to a great charity organization, but also, get a discount on seller fees equal to the percentage you are donating.
Habitat For Humanity ReStore
Habitat for Humanity is a non-profit organization with a mission to provide affordable housing for everyone. The Habitat For Humanity ReStore is another great place to donate your unwanted items that aren’t clothing and shoes. They take things like furniture, appliances, T.V.s, and building materials. If you are looking to donate large items like furniture, they will pick these things up for free. All you have to do is call your nearest store and schedule a pick up time. This is a great way to help a great cause and keep these items and materials out of our landfills. Win-win!
Donate Books to Your Local Library
Do you have a pile of books that are still in great condition? There are some libraries that will accept any gently used books, DVDs, and CDs. Once these items are sold, the profits will go towards library events, activities, and initiatives. This is a great way to give back to your local community.
Recycle Clothes and Shoes
If you are sitting on a pair of shoes or clothes that are too worn out to donate, there is recycling. Clothes and shoes can be recycled a number of different ways. Some companies will accept their own clothing items back for recycling and others like H&M, The North Face, and American Eagle Outfitters offer in-store bins for any brand of textiles and accessories for recycling. Nike and Shoes 4 Souls accept shoes. There are websites like S.M.A.R.T that have recycling locators that can help you find something nearby. If after searching, you find none of these options near you, there are companies that will accept items through the mail but this last option can be costly.
I think that about covers it!
So what is your favorite music, show, or movie to listen to or watch (kinda) while you are cleaning?
I would like to hear from you! I change it up quite a bit but a go-to favorite of mine is punk rock especially anything by Siouxsie and the Banshees.
If you have any questions about any of the topics talked about in this post, comments about other resources or ways to unload your stuff I didn’t mention, or would just like to chat me up; please leave me a comment below. I look forward to hearing from you!