A Zero Waste Take on Spring Cleaning

Posted: 03/3/17

With Spring right around the corner, I can’t help but start to think about Spring Cleaning. There are a handful of potential origins of this centuries­old tradition, including Persian New Year and the Jewish high holiday of Passover. Whether or not an exact source can be pinpointed,one thing they all have in common is this sense of purging all that you no longer need in anticipation of the start of something new.

When I think of Spring Cleaning, the first thing that comes to mind is the end of Winter; this idea that after being cooped up inside for the past few months, I can finally turn off the heater, open a few windows, and let in some fresh air. As I leave my blinds drawn, I see flowers starting to bloom and leaves growing on trees. The sound of birds chirping and the smell of fresh air is refreshing and a welcomed change.

While cleaning out my closet and drawers, I think about the things I currently own, taking a deep look into what I want, compared to what I actually need. My goal is to avoid creating unnecessary waste, so any item I no longer need is given to a friend, donated to charity, or sold. I want to be mindful that some items are nice to have around, just in case, whereas others spend years collecting dust.

It can be easy to look at Spring Cleaning as a means to an end, where tossing out old items is justification for buying newer models. As an advocate for living a zero waste lifestyle, I have found that there is far more satisfaction in wearing something out, than feeling pressure to buy something new. If you can believe it, there are actually groups on social media you can join that advocate for seeing how long you can go without buying anything (except of course, food). I personally do my best to buy only what I need, reusing and repairing items for as long as possible.

But I do recognize that there is a balance, and sometimes we do need to make way for something new. That being said, as you begin to prepare for the start of Spring, I would like to challenge you to introduce a zero waste way of thinking, as made popular during the Great Depression: Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.

– Jonathan Levy, AKA Zero Waste Guy

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