Sustainable Spring Clean: Easy ways to give your old items a new life and make more conscious purchases.

Well, it's officially Spring here in Oz and you know what that means? If you're anything like us, a lot of you folk are going to be clearing out those cupboards, reshuffling your office space and throwing out all those untouched items in the garage. Before you go all Marie Kondo on us we thought we’d walk you through a few ways to be a little smarter with your cleanout this year. 

So, without further ado; here are 3 ways you can ensure you are being more sustainable with your spring cleaning, and another 3 ways you can ensure that you’re adopting more sustainable purchasing behaviours. 

1 Introducing The Buyerarchy of Needs

Yeep, you heard that correctly. A fun adaptation of the more well-known Maslow’s ‘Hierarchy of Needs; this little progression helps us understand which choices are better when it comes to purchasing. Thanks to a Canadian illustrator by the name of Sarah Lazarovic we now have a helpful graphic to walk us through the steps of conscious consumption one tier at a time. It’s also a great way to set some personal goals for yourself. For example, only buy 3 new items each season. If you’re after a new coffee table, perhaps it’s time to go thrifting. If you find yourself having to attend a wedding, then possibly look at borrowing a gown from a friend, or reaching for one of your old favourites (use what you have). 

2 Let’s give items a second life

Unfortunately, the numbers surrounding household waste are stark. You may be surprised to know that approximately 80% of clothing ends up in landfill or incinerators. That’s equal parts alarming and saddening. Now, there is really only one way to reduce these numbers; extending the period of usage for items ensures they do not end up in landfills. This is where you come in. When partaking on your Spring overhaul, ask yourself this; are you wanting to get rid of something because it’s more convenient to buy yourself a new one, perhaps all the item in question needs is a little makeover. For instance, do you really need a new wheel barrow, or do you just need to replace a wheel? Does that old bookshelf need to be laid to rest, or does she just need a fresh lick of paint? Is your jacket really ruined or is it just missing a few too many buttons? 

3 Don’t throw, donate

In the case you don’t have any use for the items in question and you’re ready to well and truly Marie Kondo them out of your life, then why not send them onto a second home? There’s plenty of ways you can do this now. Why not snap a quick picture and throw them up online; there are many hidden gems to be found on marketplace and gumtree (you may just need to spend a little extra time looking). Your local thrift shops are usually always looking for new items to sell and would most likely love to take these off your hands. And lastly, why not host a good-old-fashion garage sale? I’m sure it wouldn’t disappoint. 

Now with all the above in mind, we know it’s a big (near impossible) ask to go a whole year without purchasing anything new. And be sure to note, this isn’t a fast fashion get-out-of-jail-free card, but here are 3 ways you can work towards a more conscious mindset when purchasing new items. 

1 Don’t purchase straight away

I once read an article written by the talented Maggie Zhou, she said “To carry a conscious mindset means to act with intention and awareness.” We need to look thoroughly at the reasons behind your decision to purchase; retail therapy, fomo, spur-of-the-moment purchases fuelled by online sales can often end up living in the back of your wardrobe. If you really think you want an item, whether that’s clothing, furniture, art or the latest trending gadget (looking at you fidget spinners), take a few days to really mull it over and decide whether it’s necessary. Unfortunately, thanks to the internet these kinds of purchases are literally at our fingertips which makes them far too convenient for my liking. Sleep on it, trust me, it’s not going anywhere. 

2 You know what they say, ‘second the best’.

Just as we mentioned above, plenty of people are looking for new homes for their past beloved household items and clothing. Sure, it may take a little longer but let me tell you, scoring a great deal at a thrift shop is a truly rewarding experience, right!? Just ask Macklemore. Another great way to find new clothes that are looking for a new home is to host a local clothing swap. This is a great way to trade items with a group of other people in your age demographic. It’s really easy too. All you have to do is find a venue (your local gym, community hall or school could work perfectly). Then all the items are colour code into price brackets so you can easily swap with others, the most convenient trade-in you'll ever partake in. 

3 Think about the longevity of your items

According to a British Study, on average, we only wear an item of clothing seven times before giving it the flick. And when we see our clothing as horrendously cheap, it’s easy to see them as disposable. Introducing the ‘30 wears challenge’, a concept birthed by Livia Firth (co-founder of Eco-Age). Before buying a new item of clothing, really ask yourself if you can see yourself wearing it at least 30 times. Trust me, there is a beauty in getting to tell people ‘oh thanks, it’s actually my prom dress from 6 years ago’ when they compliment your outfit. Being a more thoughtful consumer and shifting your purchasing mindset can have a big old impact on consumption and waste.

And there you have it folks, 3 easy ways to be more sustainable when you’re clearing out your house and another 3 tips for how to be smarter about your purchasing habits. Have any other tips and tricks you want to share with the world? Why not drop them below in the comment sections, we’re all ears.