No matter how you go about getting yourself prepped for the new season, we’ve put together a guide detailing sustainable ways to reduce, reuse and recycle your unwanted goods and how to clean a little greener to ensure a healthier, happier home for you, your family and our environment.
Reduce: Let’s start from the beginning
This can feel a little overwhelming to begin with but it can also be a very cathartic process - the first step to start combatting the clutter is to get rid of the stuff you never use. Start with the obvious piles of clothes and products that have had an enormous amount of love but now, have been left untouched and accumulate throughout your bedroom, bathroom, living room etc. Next, move along to those out-of-reach shelves and junk drawers that are your never fail "I'll deal with this later" hot spots as spring, with its rejuvenating abilities, is the perfect opportunity to be diligent about seperating out what you really will use someday from what you never will. We're not suggesting that you cut down on all your lifestyle comforts and adopt an uber-minimalist lifestyle, but the quickest way to cut your cleaning time is to simply have fewer things to clean.
Further ‘reducing’ steps to adopt this spring
Reducing not only applies to cutting back, and down, on possessions; there are other simple changes that you can adopt in your lifestyle to reduce your human footprint on our planet:
- Spring clean your fridge - Unsure of what to do with those random vegetables and ingredients tucked away on the shelves in your fridge? Instead of tossing them out, check out apps such as Love Your Leftovers, which is free to use and aims to help users minimise their waste and “maximise taste”. Your leftovers could become another gourmet dish that you never knew was possible. A win-win for you and the planet.
- Take your own produce bags - Now that the plastic bag ban is in full-swing, and we’re in the habit of taking our own reusable bags, why not add a few produce bags in the mix to further reduce plastic usage. Gone will be the days that you battle with the plastic film at the end of the roll and rip off ten more plastic bags than needed...
- Give the dryer a holiday - Now that the sun’s out, instead of drying your laundry in the dryer head on back outside and let the sun and wind do all the hard work. Line drying clothes outside is a great way to get some vitamin D while also reducing energy usage and energy bills.
- Be mindful of water use - Water is pretty important when it comes to cleaning, but this spring, try to be aware of how much water you are using and how much you actually need. Use a bucket and turn off the tap between cleaning tasks to reduce water and energy use, and look to fix leaky faucets and pipes as these can also be major contributors to water wastage. Remember also to be mindful when reusing grey-water (any waste water we generate at home) as yes, it is a great way to care for the environment, however ensure the detergents you’re using don't contain harsh ingredients that could lessen soil and plant health if used on the garden.
- Go paperless - Most households already do so, however if there is still that one bill or subscription that you’re still getting in the mail, why not take that final step to minimise or eliminate your paper consumption for good. Those final changes can significantly simplify your living areas and enable you to reclaim your space dedicated to filing cabinets etc. And as your magazine/newspaper subscriptions expire, see if you can read online instead to keep your living space even more clutter-free.
Reuse: Get those creative juices flowing
Now that you have your system in place and pile of goodies that are no longer needed, this is your time to get creative. Go through and see if any of those items could serve a purpose you haven't thought of before. Can you reuse the fabric from your favourite (now holey) jumper and sew up a new pillow case? Do you have enough books to stack up and use as a side table? We aren't suggesting that you store away items for those ‘just in case’ moments, rather, see if any of what you have can save you from buying something else. For those with old sheets and towels, these are ideal to use for cleaning instead of using paper towels and disposable products, as cloth rags can simply be washed and reused for future cleaning. Old toothbrushes are also brilliant spring cleaning tools that are also sustainable (especially old bamboo toothbrushes that are biodegradable!). They are great at getting into small crevices and spaces.
Recycle: To friends, family and those in need
Once you’ve taken stock of what you can reuse, it is now time to sort out if the items might be useful for someone else and boost that ‘feel good factor’ that often comes when gifting. This includes kitchen goods such as dishes and gadgets, toys, clothes, books, etc. that could find a second life with someone else. Once you’ve exhausted friends and family, the next easiest option is to just drop it all off at your local salvos or charity shop. Websites such as Give Now is a great tool that details how and where you can donate almost anything, we’re talking blankets, building material, clothes and corks! Or check out our recycling post, for simple recycling tips including helpful websites such as Recycling Near You which is an easy to use portal detailing how to recycle over 170 household items. For those slightly more patient, try listing items for sale via a garage sale (now that the weather is warming up) or posting them on Gumtree. Your house will be less cluttered, someone else can skip buying new, and all-in-all, you help reduce waste that would usually be headed straight for landfill.
Image: Recycling Near You website
Clean green: Detoxify your cleaning products
Now that you’re ready for that mighty spring scrub, we need to take note of the household cleaning products we’re reaching for. While many of our customers already know the importance of detoxifying our skincare, makeup and personal care products, cleaning products are often overlooked. On the surface, commercial cleaners are great at what they do i.e. they easily remove dust, dirt and grime with little effort, however many of our everyday cleaning products contain toxic ingredients that, while maybe safe in small amounts, are linked to having harmful side effects. This is why it makes sense to take sensible precautions about the products we use. Aim to use products that list all ingredients on their labels and do not contain unnecessary perfumes or dyes which are often derived from petrochemicals. Your best option is to choose plant and mineral based cleaners to detoxify your home, and if you have delicate skin or are prone to allergies, choose products that are fragrance free, as even essential oils can irritate sensitive skin. Ecostore is our go-to brand for eco-friendly cleaning, as their range of products are free from toxic or unnecessary chemicals but work just as well as (or better than) mainstream cleaning brands. Their impressive global following speaks volumes for the performance of their products, reducing the need for harsh chemicals in mainstream cleaning products that wreak havoc on our environment, both indoors and out.