5 tips for making your winter clear out eco-friendly

A sustainable refresh

Eco-friendly declutter

With winter now in full swing, many of us will have started to clear out the clutter.

But how can you make the most of your productivity whilst still being sustainable?

Here we reveal our 5 tips for making your winter clear out as eco-friendly as possible.

1. Recycle

It sounds simple, but the average person throws away a staggering 409kg of stuff every year – yet less than half is recycled. Depending on where you live, councils take away cardboard, plastic, metal, glass, paper, food and garden waste. To ensure you know exactly what can be recycled in your area, visit your council’s website or go to recyclenow.com (opens in new tab) and type in your postcode.

It’s also important not to forget the little things during your winter clear out. Rinsing out empty containers to avoid them dripping into porous materials and making everything unrecyclable makes a huge difference. You should also screw plastic lids back on to their bottles and push straws into cartons. These parts are too small to make it through most recycling sorting machines. For extra eco points, squash down your plastic bottles and packaging to save space!

READ MORE: How to declutter without discarding your past (opens in new tab)

2. Seek packaging alternatives

With a recent report stating that only 9 per cent of the 8.3bn tonnes of virgin plastic produced worldwide is currently being recycled, seeking out alternative packaging options as part of your clear out helps support our environment. Why not try re-usable cloth bags for your shopping instead of plastic ones?

Cutting down on Clingfilm and using alternatives such as tin foil, wax wrap or re-sealable bags that can be washed out and re-used, is another easy way to reduce your plastic waste. When it comes to preparing items for storage in your winter clear out, using containers and boxes you already have is an excellent choice. For delicate items, in place of non-recyclable bubble wrap and Styrofoam, you can wrap them in soft materials such as towels and blankets. Biodegradable bubble wrap or newspapers also work a treat.

3. New storage solutions

The start of a New Year can often be full of big life changes, so it’s not surprising that with this ‘new year, new you’ clear out mentality, it’s easy to become over zealous when it comes to parting with our belongings. Whilst it always helps to re-assess what you really need, it’s also worth looking for more space-efficient options to avoid adding to our over-crowded landfill sites. Sharing storage space with friends and family, utilising existing areas and containers to maximise utilised space always help.

And if you're looking beyond your own home for storage solutions, marketplace website Stashbee (opens in new tab) specialises in matching storage seekers with those looking to rent out their spare spaces, ranging from lofts and garages to lock ups and even spare bedrooms. With their help, your winter clear out will no longer be fraught with unnecessary disposals and regret.

4. Charitable donations

Following the excitement and excesses of the festive season, giving your wardrobe and home a good winter clear out means a lot of belongings in need of a new home. Local charity shops are a brilliant and sustainable way of giving back and providing you with some much-needed space. Think carefully and check that each of your items is in good condition and would be a welcome addition to someone else’s life or home.

For larger donations such as furniture, it is often worth calling ahead and some, like British Heart Foundation (opens in new tab), are also able to arrange a convenient time to pick up larger items from your home. Registering for Freecycle (opens in new tab) or Freegle (opens in new tab) to offer or receive goods that would otherwise be destined for the tip is another way to make your clear out more environmentally friendly and give back to your local area.

5. Second hand - not second best

Every winter clear out means ridding yourself of those items that no longer bring you joy or suit your needs, but it’s worth remembering - one person’s trash is another’s treasure.

Websites such as eBay (opens in new tab) and Depop (opens in new tab) are great options for selling unwanted items and Terra Cycle (opens in new tab) is the perfect site to transform old items like pens, toothbrushes and sweet wrappers into new, useful products and save them from landfill.

Visit their website to find your nearest collection point and earn rewards for local schools and charities.

You can also get the best out of your old items by taking them to repair cafés or shops near you to restore your treasures to their former glory.

Emma Shacklock
Senior Lifestyle Writer

Emma is a Senior Lifestyle Writer with six years of experience working in digital publishing, ranging from book publishing to magazines. She currently looks after all things Lifestyle for Woman&Home, Goodto.com, and My Imperfect Life.