Zero Waste Cleaning

Personally, I look forward to the annual spring clean. I am by no means a clean freak—I’ve been known to let dust bunnies and socks accumulate in alarming numbers under the bed.

I more so enjoy the process of reorganizing and getting rid of things—things that seem to multiply as the months go by. Things that get tucked away as “someday I’ll have a reason to wear this” or “someday I might have a use for this.” In reality, they sit sad and forlorn in my closet, drawers and garage collecting dust and taking up valuable space. Worst yet, I get a little pang of guilt each time I eye these neglected items.

I have come to love purging so much that I keep an ongoing donation box in the basement that I try to drop off at Goodwill each month. Every time I drop off a box, I leave feeling that much lighter. And now my friends compliment how minimal our home has become. But let me tell you, I didn’t become a minimalist overnight—it’s taken me time, discipline and practice.

For me, minimalism and zero waste go hand-in-hand. I became a minimalist before I became a zero waster. I love the feeling of looking around my home and seeing uncluttered surfaces with only the few bare essentials. I love the process of going through each of my drawers, closets, rooms and evaluating what I really need and cultivating simple everyday objects that bring me joy.

Similarly, I’ve found that zero waste is connected to having fewer things and maximizing objects that are long-lasting, high quality and not designed for disposal. With both minimalism and zero waste, I’m getting down to the bare essentials and taking good care of the few things I have so they last a long time.

So with this year’s spring clean drawing near, I wanted to share a few of my tips for creating a zero waste, minimal space that will bring joy and clarity to your environment.

  1. Create a list. I love a good list. It helps me to organize all of my to-dos and projects so that I don’t feel overwhelmed and can create a plan of action. I like to go by room. For example, bedroom might include:
    • purge closet
    • organize jewelry box
    • wash windows and mirrors
    • wash linen, blankets and pillows
    • sweep cobwebs from ceiling
    • dust art and floor mouldings
    • scrub kilim area rug
  2. Be ruthless. I have become really good at letting go of things. It takes practice and being a little ruthless. I used to hold onto clothes that didn’t fit, didn’t look good or make me feel awesome, needed repair, were expensive, had stains or tears, were gifted by a loved one, etc. Over time, I’ve gotten really good at being ruthless. I will often hold the item in question in my hands and connect the purpose it serves and why I feel guilty for letting it go. I try hard to only cultivate things that I use often and make me feel great. I highly checking out Marie Kondo's The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.
  3. Try homemade. I am amazed by how much cleaning I can accomplish with white vinegar and reusable cleaning cloths. There are so many awesome homemade, zero waste recipes out there for cleaning every different types of surface, but I like simplicity. I use Bea Johnson’s recipe from her book Zero Waste Home and add 1 cup of water, ½ cup of vinegar and 10 drops of lavender oil in my spray bottle and use it as an all-purpose cleaner on everything from tile counters to wood tables to mirrors.
  4. Create piles. I like to have three piles to choose from when I am doing a cleanse, especially when it comes to my closet. I have my donate pile and my maybe pile which I put into a box in the garage for one month. If I haven’t used anything from the maybe box during the month, then it goes into the donate pile next month.
  5. Repair. Another pile I make during a spring clean, or any closet purge, is a repair pile. These are clothes that need to be altered or mended, boots that need to be resoled, jewelry that needs to be fixed or shined. Similarly, if I don’t fix the item and start using it within the month, I likely will donate it the following month.
  6. Repurpose. Some of my best cleaning tools are repurposed items—I like to use my bamboo toothbrush to clean grout and small nooks and crannies. I also cut up some old towels into rags so I don’t need paper towels.
  7. Rot. Remember that dryer lint, vacuum dirt and floor sweepings can all be composted. They do not belong in the garbage.
April 05, 2017 by Lily Kaiserman

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