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Spring cleaning challenge – is (nearly) zero waste possible?

spring clear out challengeIt’s spring time and I’ve got a cluttered house full of things that we don’t use, don’t need or might even be broken.

There are things that I’ve kept, even though they’re broken because I just don’t think that they should go in landfill. But with three kids, a business to run and my own life too, I just don’t seem to get around to shifting all that stuff. So it hangs around – like a toothache – reminding me, on my way to lie on the couch, that there are still jobs to be done and I really should clean out that cupboard rather than watching re-runs of The Big Bang Theory.

Clutter is a drain on your energy – possessions, stuff, need to be cared for, dusted around, packed away. I’m not advocating a possession-free existence, but I’m going to try to de-clutter some of the un-needed things from our house.

I’ve decided to try to challenge myself to throw NOTHING from my Spring Clean Out in the bin.  I’m talking about clearing out the cupboards here – not our day-to-day rubbish, that’s a separate challenge that I’ll try to work on too. This is the stuff at the back of the cupboards.  hings like old electrical cables, makeup, clothes that are too shabby to go to the Op Shop, broken kettles, broken lamps, a broken smoke detector, half-tins of paint just to mention a few.

So this is my challenge:

 To Spring Clearout every cupboard of our house without throwing anything into landfill

 Will you join my challenge?


I’d love your ideas on how to recycle some of the things I find, where to take them and your inspiration to keep going (rather than watching Big Brother).

There are a few, self-imposed, rules and caveats to my challenge:


  • I’ve got all of Spring (so that’s a whole 3 months til the end of November)
  • I’m going to go through every cupboard in our house and clear it of anything that we definitely don’t need anymore or that’s broken – this is not a mass cleansing, if we think we need it, we keep it, if it’s got sentimental value, we keep it
  • I’m going to try and throw NOTHING in the bin – (see exception list below)


The following things can go in the bin & recycling bin:

  • Anything that can go in the ordinary recycling bin (cardboard, paper, glass bottles, aluminium cans etc) – although I’ll brush up on my recycling bin knowledge from my local council
  • Totally feral things (most likely found in my 11-year-old son’s room) can be disposed of
  • This challenge doesn’t include our normal daily household waste (food scraps, non-recyclable food packaging – that will be a separate challenge that I might get the chance to include in my posts too


So, enough talk, time to get started!

My first job is to put a line of boxes and bags, into our spare room, so I can sort the items out as I find them. I’ve got some scrap paper (from those oh-so-many one-sided notices that come home from school with my kids on a regular basis) and I’ll label each box/bag as I go.

So wish me luck!  My next job is to find out what I can and can’t put in the recycling bin – post coming soon!

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17 comments so far -

  1. I think this is a great challenge. I am planning to jump on board as we have a heap of stuff to clear. I love the idea of not putting anything into landfill, however I am stuck on what to do with an old, ripped mattress protector?? Any suggestions?? Thanks

    • To be honest, I have been struggling to find where you take ‘rags’ – ie ripped clothes, ripped bedding – fabric things that you couldn’t donate to a charity shop, but don’t go in the recycling bin either. People have told me that some charity shops do take rags as they then make up ‘rag bags’ to sell to mechanics, etc. Also, animal shelters might take old sheets and towels – but I can’t find that officially written on the RSPCA’s website, for example. I’m going to call some places and get some ideas. Is yours a plastic backed mattress protector? If it is, it couldn’t be used for rags, but maybe an animal shelter might take it?

  2. In case the cleaning bug extends into your garden (or your mould problem is far more serious than you realised) Brisbane spring-cleaners might be interested to know that Council is offering free disposal of green waste at transfer stations on 8-9 September, 22-23 September and 6-7 October. The latest “Living in Brisbane” newsletter has all the details, or you can read a pdf version on the BCC website:

  3. I’m DEFINITELY going to be doing a BIG spring clean this year .. the house is making me twitch!! I dont know how much I can reuse/ recycle etc though …

    we are having a curb-side pickup later this month .. and 90% of what I put out there is usually snaffled up by someone else – does that count? lol

    • I think the council curbside pick-up is genius. It totally counts towards this challenge. Put stuff outside that you don’t want, somebody else who wants it takes it away. Free to you, free to them, nothing in landfill. Whenever we have a curbside pick-up, virtually all the stuff from our street goes before the council come round. Although one year, GoogleEarth came past with their photocar during curbside collection week and so now if I get friends and family to look at our street on GoogleEarth, we’ve all got piles of rubbish outside our houses – nice neighbourhood!!!!

      • I have hubby on furniture removal this weekend .. anything BIG .. that needs to go – is on the curb before the weekend is out 😀

        I plan on going through some of the boys toys and putting them on gumtree .. they can than get some new DS games with the cash .. so its like a toy swap ..

        fingers crossed the kids help out and dont want to hoard their toys!

  4. I admire your ambition but in our house things can rarely be put to good use by the time they leave, everything has the goodness upcycled, repurposed and recycled out of it before it leaves-it’s really done for and then we use wood and paper for the wood heater and any metal gets sold to the scrap metal merchant so the left overs do go in the bin…, I wonder if you will find the same?

    • You sound far more organised than me! We don’t have a wood heater, so I’ve got to find out what to do with old (broken) wooden toys, we’ve got loads of spare electrical cables, a broken lamp – things like that that I don’t really know how to repurpose or where to donate to – so that’s really what the journey is about. Finding out who to donate some of the stranger items to, how to get some of the broken electrical stuff recycled (rather than landfilled) and what to do with the stuff that shouldn’t go in the recycle bin (old batteries, etc). It’s not about the everyday stuff (food scraps etc – we’ve got a Bokashi Bin – somewhere ….scurries off to find it), it’s more the stuff sitting at the back of the cupboard …

  5. I think I would fail at this miserably! I’m the opposite of a hoarder…my husband is a huge hoarder but I love throwing things out! It’s so much less time consuming than recycling, refurbishing etc etc. I’ve just realised due to your post how awful that must be for the environment. Maybe I should give this is a go!

    • Please do – it’s not about being perfect, but if we can stop some stuff that can be recycled going into landfill, it’s better than nothing at all

  6. I am in. My maternity leave finishes in one month and I need to get the house sorted before I start back at work. I look forward to your motivating posts!

    • fantastic – looking forward to having a clutter free house. I’ve started sorting, so currently the house looks far messier than it did before…

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