Unless you are already a zero-waste homesteader, you have items you need to toss. As you prepare for spring cleaning, make sure you keep this list of 13 items that must go in the forefront of your mind.
Ideally, you will get rid of any item that cannot be repurposed, with the ultimate goal to be repurposing.
However, sometimes our goal of repurposing everything turns us into hoarders.
You can avoid becoming a clutter-loving, hoarding homesteader by saying goodbye to the following items each spring.
Note – We say spring cleaning, but we are aware spring is a very busy season for homesteaders. You may feel like having a Winter Clear Out instead.
1. Expired Foods in the Pantry
Homesteaders are especially good at filling their pantries with long-term, shelf-stable foods.
However, even long-term foods can expire. For example, some long-term emergency foods are only designed to last for five years.
Do a date check on all your food items and toss those that have gone bad.
Pay special attention to home-canned goods. You do not want to risk botulism by eating canned food that has gone bad.
2. Expired Foods in the Refrigerator
Now is the time to go through your refrigerator and get rid of any expired or spoiled food.
If you are like me, I tend to have several condiments on the side of my refrigerator that go bad before they are used up.
3. Paper Clutter
One of the most prevalent types of clutter in homes is paper.
We get so much paper (e.g., receipts, mail) that it simply piles up.
During spring cleaning, gather all the loose pieces of paper that have found their way into drawers, countertops, and side tables in your home.
If you plan to use paper for compost, make sure you separate newspaper and printer paper from colored and glossy paper.
Colored and glossy papers can contain heavy metals, which is unsafe.
However, other types of paper make excellent mulch or compost – especially if you use a shredder.
If you don’t own a paper shredder, look to see if there are any free shredding events in your local area.
4. Items That Are No Longer Usable
The goal of a homestead is to be self-sufficient.
Therefore, if there are items in your home that don’t lend to self-sufficiency, they need to be tossed.
For example, why do you have a box full of different cords and cables for electronics that you no longer own?
When you come across any items during your spring cleaning that do not serve a clear purpose on your homestead or are unrepairable, toss them.
[Related Read: How to Reuse Everything on Your Homestead]
5. Old Beauty Products
Many people don’t realize that beauty products have expiration dates.
Go through your bathroom and get rid of any makeup that is expired, as well as any lotions.
If you make your own DIY soaps and lotions, you may need to toss some of these, too.
Ideally, these products last for about a year, so clean out this section each spring.
6. Sentimental Clutter
We all hold on to sentimental items, but there comes a time when we need to say goodbye.
If the sentimental items on your homestead are taking up too much space, you may need to donate them.
For example, is your basement filled with boxes of your family’s old mementos? Do you need the basement space for something else on your homestead like a root cellar?
One suggestion is to take photos of the items so you can still have a memory of them before you donate.
7. One-Time-Use Products
A goal for many homesteaders is to live with less waste or even zero waste.
You can move one step closer to this goal during spring cleaning by getting rid of one-time-use products.
Instead of Ziploc bags, invest in reusable sandwich bags or beeswax wraps.
Instead of cleaning wipes, use old rags or towels and cleaning spray.
Invest in glass containers that can easily be washed and reused for a variety of items around the homestead.
8. Items That Need Replacing Annually
Spring cleaning is the perfect time to go through your home and replace items that need regular replacing.
Replace the batteries in all your alarms.
Replace the air filters.
Replace the water filters.
Replace shower curtain liners.
9. Duplicate Items
As you clean out, get rid of items that you have duplicates of – especially those that aren’t needed.
For example, if you have multiple tools, keep the ones you use the most and donate the others.
There is a difference between being prepared and hoarding unnecessarily. You don’t need five screwdrivers of the same type and size.
10. Stray Pieces of Leftover Materials
Again, it is tempting to keep everything in hopes of repurposing.
But you’ve got to be realistic.
Will you ever use those stray pieces of wood or leftover PVC pipe from your last project?
If they already served their purpose and there isn’t enough material left to legitimately repurpose, toss them.
11. Old Toys
As your kids grow, pass their toys along to younger kids or hold a yard sale.
Get your kids in on the action and have them choose which toys they are ready to part with.
12. Useless Craft Supplies
Like the leftover homesteading materials, don’t let used craft materials pile up.
I have a friend who has a sewing room.
She kept every scrap of fabric for years, believing someday she might have a need for each scrap.
The scraps quickly overwhelmed her.
Don’t let it happen to you.
Be honest with yourself as you clean.
Is there enough material to really make something worthwhile?
Do you need twelve bottles of almost empty super glue?
13. Older Seed Packets
Seed packets can last a few years if they are stored properly.
But that doesn’t mean they can last indefinitely.
You may notice a “sow by” date on the seed packet. While you can plant the seeds past this date, they may not germinate as well.
Go through your collection of seed packets and throw away the oldest ones.
[Related Read: Why You Need Seeds]
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