Sustainable Spring Cleaning Dos and Don’ts

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As we start to approach the spring months, many people will be looking at freshening up the home they currently live in. Spring cleaning is a big trend that is a pretty good one; however, there are a lot of worse ways to offload your “trash” so that it can be usable for someone else, and you can always find better options. According to The Atlantic, Americans recycle or donate 15% of their clothing, and the rest, at about 10.5 million tons per year, goes to the dumpster. Here we will illustrate some dos and don’ts of spring cleaning this year with sustainability in mind.

DO: Fix clothing you can still wear

Many people see a ripped knee or frayed edges to a shirt and think it is time to donate the piece. However, that creates a mentality that just because one part isn’t perfect means the whole item is ruined. Take your well-worn clothes to a tailor or get out your needle and thread and mend some of these clothes yourself to give them a longer life. If they are too far gone, make your old t-shirts into a blanket or make a pillowcase and use the scraps as stuffing.

DON’T: Throw out single-use things you already own

There are so many options out there now for reusable packaging or products. If you are still making the transition to reusable products, do not throw out what you already have. That would make that product even more of a waste. Use what you have, and then start fresh with reusable products like eco-friendly cotton rounds that you can throw into the washing machine or dental floss in a glass jar that you can reuse.

DO: See who in your network you can donate to or swap things with

Many times when we donate things, they don’t end up getting used the way we think they will. To ensure that your pieces are getting worn or are still useful for someone else, look to your family, friends, neighbors, and community. By asking those around you if they want clothing, a book, a table, or anything you don’t use, you could potentially help someone nearby that might need that exact thing and help yourself get more out of your house. You could also offer a swap if you are tired of your clothes, board games, or books, and start an exchange with your friends. This trade will introduce exciting new things into your home without adding more clutter since you have to give something to someone else in exchange.

DON’T: Get rid of sentimental things

Many approaches to spring cleaning and decluttering determine if the object is still helpful in the user’s life. However, not everything has a utilitarian value. Scrapbooks from trips you took as a child or your favorite college t-shirt you never wore don’t have to go in the donate bin automatically. If you still get a warm and fuzzy feeling inside when you see them, keep them. If anything, this feeling may be an excellent reminder to reread that favorite book from your youth or display those pieces of art you made as a child. Take those memories out of their dusty boxes and highlight them.

Moving forward, consider these tips for the future –

DO: Adopt a one-in-one-out policy

Suppose you want to avoid another year where you end up with more useless things than you start with, attempt to adopt a one-in-one-out policy. Even though this is a minimalist idea, it doesn’t mean you have to get rid of everything. This policy is a great way to both control your spending habits and keep your space at a good equilibrium. For example, you have a pair of shoes you want to buy. To do that, you will need to donate, give away, or sell an item of clothing (preferably another pair of shoes). This way, you are introducing a new exciting thing to your wardrobe without actually adding more stuff to your house. It is effectively a net zero in terms of items in your home.

DON’T: Keep buying stuff just for the sake of getting something

Advertisements surround us everywhere we look. From our social media apps to our mailboxes (real and virtual) and our friends, we want things all the time, and we want them now (thanks, Amazon Prime). However, when you look at the science, material goods don’t bring us happiness. Kristina Hallett, Ph.D., ABPP, told Bustle, “Focusing on acquiring things to prove your worth or to make you feel better doesn’t work, it just leaves you looking for more ‘stuff’ (and drains your bank account).” Saving your money for something like a vacation, paying down student loan debt, or a down payment on a house will be more gratifying than buying a new pair of shoes every week.