Sick and tired of the Christmas mess and fresh off a Marie Kondo Netflix binge, it’s the time of year when everyone’s having a clear out. But what do you do with the things you clear out now that you’re chasing the zero waste lifestyle?
Replace with green alternatives
If you need to replace something (and you really should be asking whether or not it’s a *need*) then do replace it with a green alternative. Go for second hand, go for energy efficiency, go for sustainable materials. A combination of all three is even better!
Repair things that are broken
If something is broken and can be easily fixed, then try to fix it. Even if you want to get rid of something, you’ll have an easier time shifting it if it’s in good working order. Set aside an hour or so a week to trying to fix things in your “to repair” pile.
Reuse whatever you can, however you can
Before you throw something away, ask yourself if you have a use for this item now, or are likely to in the near future. Think outside the box here! Someone gave my kids a box of Ferrero Rocher for Christmas – one of those big square boxes. It is now my new jewellery box with absolutely no upcycling done. That’s one less thing in the recycling and one less new item bought.
Donate or sell things you no longer want or need
If you don’t want something that’s in perfect working order, then sell or donate. It makes no sense to recycle something that isn’t at the end of its life. eBay is great for selling and buying second hand (I love my new-to-me Joe Brown’s coats) as is Facebook Marketplace. If that’s too much hassle, then keep a bag or box of things to donate and bring it with you next time you visit the high street to give to your favourite charity shop.
Recycle as a last resort
Recycling should only be done at the end of life. Make sure you know what can and can’t go in your recycling box, and if you have things that can’t go into your household recycling, check Terracycle or look online for other recycling solutions.
Share what you no longer need
If you’ve replaced your regular washing liquid with a zero waste alternative like Splosh, you might be tempted to use up the rest of your existing lot first. Don’t. Give your remaining product to someone who isn’t zero waste. They’ll use it instead of buying extra for a bit, which means you’ll have saved a bottle or two from being created.
I know it’s tempting to throw everything out and start again, especially in the first few months of the year when Spring Cleaning is at the forefront of everyone’s minds. But with a little thought and care, we can get the result we want without hurting our planet in the process.