Spring Cleaning with a Conscience
By Roxanne Fox
Around this time of year, when the sun starts to tease us with its radiance and grey skies turn blue, I typically embark on a mission to declutter our home. My husband can sense it and spends a lot of time protectively hovering around his man-drawer and hiding his favourite (read ‘scruffy’) t-shirts.
This year the need to do a good sort out is more pressing thanks to our four-month-old daughter requiring a lot of stuff. One baby, SO…MUCH…STUFF. It is getting to the point where I have to reach for a crash helmet before opening cupboards for fear of being left unconscious by an avalanche of items.
According to the government’s latest report on waste and resources, UK households produce 26.5 million tons of waste each year. I struggle to conceptualise how much this amounts to but what I do know is that I want to contribute as little as possible to that astonishing statistic.
In recent years, to deal with the guilt of accumulating things which I end up no longer needing, I have tried to find the most responsible way of redistributing my unwanted goods. If, like me, you are keen to be a conscientious spring cleaner, here are a few suggestions for recycling goods rather than simply taking them to the tip:
For clothes which are still in good condition, the easy option is donating them to a local charity shop. A rather fun alternative is to host a swishing party where you swap clothes with friends. You can also use it to raise funds for a particular cause or simply see it as an opportunity to refresh your wardrobe and enjoy a catch up with some of your besties.
When it comes to household goods, I find bedding and curtains the trickiest to rehome. Conveniently, Elmbridge council have local recycling banks where textiles (and other items such as shoes and small electrical appliances) can be recycled. Depending on the condition of the goods, they are either sent off to be resold in developing countries or broken down into fibres and made into new material. The local Hersham recycling bank is on New Berry Lane.
A few years ago I opened a basic Amazon seller account to sell off books which I had read or for which I had no further use. However, if you are less inclined to want to hassle with posting books to purchasers you can always hold onto them until the council do their British Heart Foundation collection on the same day as your rubbish is collected. This is done three times a year and the next one is in May.
At some point I have to venture into the loft – the place where forgotten paraphernalia gathers dust and yearns to be put to good use once more – to shift our old microwave, a spare television, various digital aerials and other random goods. These fully-functional items can easily be offered on websites such as Freegle or Freecycle for local people to come and collect. Gumtree is a good option if you are keen to make back a few pounds on items.
It can also be difficult to know what to do with furniture which has become redundant. In this instance, the Surrey Reuse Network will come and collect furniture and appliances which you no longer want. As well as saving these things from going into landfill, your donation will raise funds for community work, help families in need and enable people to get back into work.
Remember, most things can be recycled. From batteries, to medicines and even bras (…and farewell to the male readers I didn’t lose after the swishing party). My tendency is, I suspect like many others, to just want rid of unwanted goods as quickly as possible. But going the extra mile to do a spring clean with a conscience leaves me with that feel-good factor all summer long.