Your guide to a green spring cleaning

Now that spring’s finally here, everything’s getting greener—and you can, too, with our guide to a green spring cleaning. Instead of tossing unwanted items in the trash, let’s look at ways we can reduce our waste footprint by recycling and reusing.

But before we begin, a little note on the items we’ve covered in this guide. They weren’t randomly selected. We aggregated the most-searched materials over our What goes where? tool to find out exactly what our users were looking to get rid of this season. To narrow things down a bit, we’ll be focusing on how to dispose of some of the trickier items—emphasizing reuse options you can take advantage of.

Clothes

For many, shifting seasons means shifting fashions. If your unwanted threads are still in good condition, there are plenty of things you can do with them to promote #threadcycling.

For example, swap them with a friend or sell them at a flea market, consignment shop, or online. Kijiji, Craigslist, and eBay all prove that one person’s trash is another’s treasure, and they’re a great opportunity to pad your pocket with some extra dough. Organizations like Diabetes Canada accept a wide variety of textile and household items. And you can schedule them to pick your stuff up for free. Don’t forget Goodwill (which also accepts some e-waste).

For items in poor condition, there are a couple options. If your community has a textile recycling program, that’s always a safe bet. Charity drop-off bins like Textile Waste Diversion will even recycle your rags into industrial fibers. Some retailers (H&M and Patagonia, for instance) also provide textile recycling programs. To purchase sustainably, you might even consider brands like Reformation, who repurpose deadstock fabric and vintage clothing.

Furniture

Some communities accept larger pieces of furniture for curbside pickup—with certain restrictions. For example, they might require you to mark glass materials and dismantle items like bedframes. You can also contact junk removal companies, and they’ll pick up your unwanted furniture for a fee. Many of these companies recycle and donate salvageable items, too.

Beyond that, resale is always an option—whether you go the online route, to a consignment shop or to a thrift store like Value Village. Free of charge, Habitat for Humanity will come to your home to pick up furniture and appliances that are still in working condition and re-store them. Furniture banks will do the same.

Electronics

E-waste is a huge concern. Because it often contains hazardous materials, it’s not something we want in our landfills. That’s why we should never throw our unwanted electronics in the garbage. While some communities do have recycling programs, there are plenty of other options available. Apple, for instance, accepts any of their branded gadgets for recycling online or instore. So do many other electronics retailers.

There are also tons of exciting e-cycling initiatives worth checking out. TerraCycle, a U.S.-based organization, offers a free e-waste recycling program. You can ship them your unwanted cell phones, smart phones, some inkjet cartridges, laptops, netbooks, notebooks, and some tablets—and it’s free. Recycle My Electronics is also worth checking out.

In the U.S., there are certified electronics recycling facilities everywhere. The same can be said for Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. To help slow the production of more e-waste, you could also consider purchasing electronics sustainably. It’s as easy as holding onto your device until it stops working (or donating it to someone else).

As you start sorting through your winter clutter, you might have more disposal questions that need answering. Feel free to download our app, and we’ll hook you up with practical tips and tricks. And remember: a green spring cleaning means an even greener spring, which benefits everyone.