Spring has sprung and we all know that means cleaning out all the old rag-dag winter clothes to make way for a fabulous summer wardrobe. Spring cleaning and decluttering that winter wardrobe can be tricky – it’s hard to know what to keep, what to donate or whether you should really throw out your high school senior jersey that you never wear anymore. You know you should probably throw it out, but the thought of it sitting on a rotting pile of landfill makes your eyes a little watery.
You wonder how you’re going to get rid of this jumper that’s just taking up space in your cupboard? Will the jumper end up in landfill waste? Will a charity shop take this garment? How do you get rid of something you have an emotional attachment to? All these questions can induce you into an anxiety riddled state, but don’t worry, this article has you sorted!
War on Waste
According to the ABC’s war on waste documentary, “Australia is one of the most wasteful countries in the developed world.” There is a growing culture of convenience, fast fashion and furniture/appliances that are not built to last more than 2-3 years. Australians have developed a throw-away society:
- 6000kg of clothes are thrown out every 10 minutes, equating to 36 000kg every hour.
- 30% of clothing items end up in landfills and even if you donate old clothes to a charity, if the items are not in good condition, it’s landfill.
- The same goes for furniture and appliances. 85% of household items that are put out for the good old kerbside collection end up as landfill and are not recycled.
These statistics are daunting, but there are a few rules you can follow to successfully organise your home into different waste types in order to effectively make the most of your spring cleaning efforts, taking into account your contribution to household landfill.
Declutter your Home
- Declutter in Stages: An article by Sirin Kale (The Guardian) advises not to declutter all at once. instead, break up your decluttering into smaller, more manageable goals. Spend 10 minutes a day decluttering or declutter three times a week focusing on different areas.
- Set Measurable Goals: Nicola Lewis, organising expert and author of Mind Over Clutter, (Good Housekeeping UK) also recommends decluttering should be an activity you can enjoy by setting measurable goals. For example I’ll declutter my wardrobe in the month of spring, spending 1hr each week focused on different sections until I’m satisfied.
- Get Organised: The next step is to organise the declutter into separate piles to keep things organised. The list below is a great way to start:
- Recycle and
- Resource Recovery (the absolute last resort).
Elizabeth Larkin from The Spruce also suggests labeling bins with the above and keeping them in a centralised room within your home.
Review and Hand-on
So, you’ve organised your declutter chaos and spread out the clean up into organised groups, what next? The next step is absolutely vital, so let’s go through the list again:
- Retain – take all your cherished treasured items and organise them in your home.
- Repair – for any items that need repair there are several resources out there to assist – visit one of almost 1000 Men’s Shed in Australia, consult iFixit online that has over 54,000 repair guides or drop-in to a local Repair Cafe or launch one yourself!!
- Repurpose – try turning those old clothes into household rags, washcloths or scrubbing/polishing cloths; old bags into washing baskets and old containers into desk/stationary storage. Repurposing is always a fantastic way to recommission those old goods into something new. Give your goods to Substation33 and they can disassemble the parts and turn them into something new!!
- Renew – Ministry of Handmade run workshops to help you try a fresh coat of paint/fabric, giving your old goods new life or turning them into household decor!
- Rehome– Donate items that are in good condition or good working order to local charities (St. Vincent de Paul, Lifeline, Salvos, Red Cross and many more) and for those dormant goods that you can’t bear to part with but rarely use/need (think awesome cocktail dress you can’t wear anymore but still love) World’s Biggest Garage Sale is the place for you.
- Recycle – Place anything recyclable in your home recycling bin and for all other items consult Planet Ark’s comprehensive Recycling Near You website and familiarise yourself with what can be recycled in your local area.
- Resource Recover (the absolute last resort) – after going through the exhaustive list above, there should be very few items that go into rubbish (aka landfill) and for those that do, remember them and think twice before purchasing something like it again, that is hard to dispose of at end of life. Consider calling on 1800-GOT-JUNK to take away any items you’re unsure of – they ensure that your rubbish is recycled, donated, or otherwise disposed of responsibly.
Spring is such a fabulous time of the year!! Hopefully this article has given you some tips and tricks to help you declutter and breathe new life into your home, while responsibly handling the resources that flow in and out of your life!