The weather is warming up and the flowers are beginning to bloom. Spring is in the air and with it comes the newfound energy to organise, declutter and refresh one's life and home.
Indeed, it's that time of year when most people are thinking about a good-old spring clean - but have you thought about what impact a simultaneous cleaning crackdown by millions of Aussies might have on the environment? Here are our top tips for achieving an environmentally responsible and guilt-free spring clean.
1. Recycle your unused paint
One of the easiest ways to give your home a revamp is a fresh lick of paint. But did you know that paint contains chemicals and metals that can contaminate our groundwater and have negative effects on human health when disposed of irresponsibly? Paintback will recycle your paint for free and with collection points in many areas of Australia, it's never been easier to dispose of your excess paint correctly. Find your local collection point.
2. Give your unwanted goods a second life
As the saying goes, one man's trash is another man's treasure. Before you chuck it in the bin, think about whether you could sell or donate the item. There are lots of great community 'buy, sell, swap' sites online that will allow you to trade or sell your 'clutter'. You could also donate them to charity shops, as long as they are in a decent condition. Head to RecyclingNearYou to find your local charity shop. If you have clothes that aren't good enough to donate, it's still possible to give them a second life - cut them up and use them as rags, or call your local vet or mechanic to see if they have a use for them (some vets will take old towels and blankets for the animals, and some mechanics will turn old clothes and towels into rags).
3. Recycle your e-waste
Across the country huge amounts of precious materials, including gold, are collecting dust in drawers. Mobile phones, laptops and computer accessories, such as keyboards and mice, contain valuable materials that recyclers would love to get their hands on. There are a couple of recycling initiatives that will accept many types of e-waste, such as Mobile Muster and TechCollect. Head to RecyclingNearYou to find your local recycler. You can also recycle your printer cartridges through Cartridges 4 Planet Ark, which has collection points at all Officeworks stores and participating Australia Post, Harvey Norman, The Good Guys, JB Hi-Fi, Office National and Office Products Depot outlets.
4. Use natural and non-toxic cleaning products
Many cleaning products contain harsh chemicals that are harmful to the environment and our health. There are actually lots of natural household items that can be used for cleaning, such as baking soda, vinegar and lemon. If you don't have the time to concoct your own cleaning formula, Planet Ark endorses Orange Power as a natural and environmentally responsible cleaning product, so you can feel confident next time you're doing the shopping to make the right choice for the environment. Orange Power is made out of discarded orange peels, so it doesn't contain any harsh chemicals, and it's also palm-oil and cruelty free.
5. Use reusable cleaning aids
Instead of using disposable cloths and paper towels in your cleaning, make the switch to reusable cloths that you can chuck in the washing machine and use time and time again. If you do need to use paper towels to clean your windows or mirrors, make sure you buy 100% recycled paper towels.
6. Conserve water wherever possible
This is a great time to fix that leaky faucet you've been meaning to get around to. If you need a new showerhead, look into buying one that has water-saving credentials. Smart Approved Watermark certifies water-efficient products in Australia, as well as providing advice to communities on how to save water in their homes and gardens. As a country that experiences the severity of drought, it's so important to be careful with our water. If you're planning a big clean, try using a bucket of water instead of running the tap every time you need to rinse your cloths.
7. Hire a recycling skip bin
If you're doing a big spring clean that involves clearing out the garage or shed, you might need to look into hiring a skip bin. Some waste contractors will recycle as much of the garbage as they can. If you're located in NSW or Victoria, BINGO aims to divert 75 per cent of the waste they collect from landfill.
8. Reduce your consumption
One of the best things you can do as an individual to make an impact is to reduce your consumption. Fix broken items and avoid buying new things wherever possible - that way you won't have to do a big spring clean next year!