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Spring Cleaning the Vegan Way

As the weather warms and life begins to spring forth after a lengthy frost, are you finding that your closet is bursting with excess or your home is a den for bunnies of the dusty variety? 

Put the Windex down and don’t panic! This guide is positively blooming with expert tips for spring cleaning your home in an effective eco- and animal-friendly way. Best of all, it’s going to be fun and smell great. Like, really, really great. Bring your (non-feather) dusters and let’s get busy clearing out the clutter and making room for gorgeous possibility!

Re-Imagine Your Space

Some of the most effective home beautification comes not from adding more in, but rather from taking away. Open the blinds, open the windows. Look around. What do you see? If there are areas that feel overwhelming to you (like that heaping pile of clothes and miscellany) or make you feel stressed just looking at it (I’m looking at you, cluttered bookshelf with reads I have yet to get to just staring me down…), tackle those first. What is it that you’d like to see instead? Is it a matter of simple organization, or could you stand to get rid of clutter? Be honest with yourself. If you’re a pack-rat, how is having stuff around you serving your life?

Simple Room with Windows

Simplify Your Stuff

This is where we get honest. All of us have too much stuff. Like, way too much stuff, and our blessings are suffocating us. Have you ever looked around your office, papers piled up and tchotchkes everywhere, and felt so overwhelmed you didn’t even know where to start? Or have you opened your expansive closet only to moan, “I have nothing to wear!” Bull. You’re simply drowning in abundance and it can be crippling. Instead, prioritize, pare down, and get clear on what you need. Want some guidance on getting started and letting go?

John Robbin’s book The New Good Life: Living Better in An Age of Less is a revelation, and shows that less is in fact, the new abundance. ZenHabits has a lovely guide for people who gotta have their stuff or love clutter. For a thought-provoking social experiment, check out Be More with Less, a blog about shedding material and emotional stuff that no longer serves you. Related Project 333 invites people to embark on a mini-mission of living with only 33 clothing items for three months. Yes, you read that correctly. Kind of compelling, isn’t it? Imagine what you could do, be, and accomplish with less crap.

And if you need to buy things (hey, we all do), why not check out your local thrift store, hold a clothing swap, or shop at companies and stores that are in-line with your values. We love Compassion Couture for their commitment to eco- and animal-friendly accessories, beauty, and apparel, and have teamed up with them for a Giveaway. Just join the free Vegucated Schoolhouse from now until May 31st, and you’re automatically entered to win a $50 gift certification to Compassion Couture. Win!

Donate Old Stuff

Put the Excess to Good Use

I don’t want to see you throwing your discarded clothes or items in the trash. That’s just, well, trashy and wasteful. Especially since there are so many environmentally-friendly charitable options for offloading your stuff. Consigning clothes and furniture can put a little extra money in your pocket.  Trading or swapping is another great way to get what you need in exchange for what you don’t. And, if you think no one will want those old cabinet doors or that singing unicorn figurine, post is on Craigslist’s “free” section and you will find that you are sorely mistaken.When in doubt, donate. There’s an outlet to donate nearly everything you can imagine to people or organizations who desperately need and will appreciate it. Below, I’ve compiled a listing of items and corresponding organizations that would be psyched to have your castoffs. Give them a whirl, and certainly explore more local options near you.
Apparel + Accessories:
  • Bedding + Towels: Your local animal shelter will take these in a heartbeat, because pups and cats need soft, people-smelling blankies to feel comfy. This is an awesome guide on reusing and donating these items.
  • Furniture: Salvation Army, Charity Shops, Group Homes. Explore locally, as different organizations have pick-up and drop-off options.
  • Kitchen Items: Some homeless shelters, non-profit culinary programs, and group homes will accept certain donations of kitchen ware.
  • Power Tools: Community woodworker programs, job-training programs, and certain after-school programs will accept donations of tools.
  • Books: Holy moly, there are so many marvelous options for donating books. Explore them here.
  • Used Appliances, Cabinetry, and Carpentry Materials: There are many manufacturers and organizations that will take your donations, including Habitat for Humanity and the American Council for the BlindRefer to this guide for more details.
  • Used Computers + Phones: You can e-cycle your used computer, or you can donate to the Make-A-Wish Foundation or organizations that assist victims of domestic violence. Check out the universe of options here.
  • DVDs, Video Games, CDs: I used to work at a group home for children in the foster care system. Let me tell you, those kids badly wanted a gaming console like the kids they went to school with. They also delighted at movie night and listening to CDs. Look at local options for donating age-appropriate electronics to kiddos in need.
  • Canned Goods + Non-Perishable Food: Your local food bank will always take items that are in good condition, within expiration, and non-perishable.
Sporting Goods + Musical Instruments:
Couldn’t find an organization for your desired donation? Check out this super extensive listing and get giving!Dog Bed out of drawer

Repurpose with Gusto

Even some of the smallest, seemingly dingiest spaces are full of possibility. My favorite living space was a tiny apartment in a fifth-floor walk up that had a kitchen the size of a fingernail (yes, it was very small). Why did I love it so? I made it mine. I was on a tight budget, but I’d find cute things (like that folding chair on the side of the road), paint it up, and repurpose it as a plant stand. Everywhere I looked, the place had my touch, my favorite colors, and was functional enough because I kept clutter to a minimum.

If there are items that you just can’t part with, but they’ve outgrown their function for you, is there a way you can repurpose it or give it new life? Can those ripped concert t-shirts be made into a soft, nostalgic throw? Can that old wine rack be painted and redirected to hold your magazines or throw blankets? Can that cracked bowl be turned in to a planter with a few quick fixes? That rusty old end table? Give it new life by painting it a vibrant share of marigold. The internet is loaded with remarkable repurposing guides and resources, like My Repurposed LifeApartment TherapyCentsational Girl, and Ikea Hackers.

Lemons Eco-Friendly Cleaners

Clean with Natural Compassion

We’ve become obsessed with terms like “antibacterial” and “disinfectant,” but those words are actually a detrimental fallacy. Our unhealthy obsession with hand sanitizer and air fresheners is causing weakened immune systemscontaminated waterdepressiontoxic overload, and feeding an underground world of animal testing. If you’re unfamiliar with animal testing, get familiar, because it’s rampant in most of the household, beauty, and personal care products out there. We did an awesome guide on how to spot cruelty-free, vegan, and natural products, and Girlie Girl Army recently broke down a few animal tests and natural cleaning products here. Bottom line, it’s ugly stuff and it’s unnecessary. Natural cleaning products are effective, gorgeous (think natural fragrances filling your home), economical, and usually free from the garbage that can make you unwell.Who needs chemical- and cruelty-laden Clorox when you can use yummy Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day? Say goodbye to Dawn Dishwashing Liquid (which, despite their lovely wildlife advertisements, does more harm to animals in their massive animal testing facilities, than good) and hello to Ecover. Kick Tide and Downy (which were formulated at the expense of dogs, cats, chimps, rabbits, and other sentient creatures) and get down with Ecos. Nearly every store now carries an animal and environmentally-friendly option, like Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, and even Walgreens.If you’re more of a do-it-yourselfer, here are some wonderful guides and recipes for simple, cost-effective natural cleaners:

Have a great eco- and animal-friendly spring cleaning tip that you’d like to share?
Join the conversation in the Vegucated Schoolhouse today!

ashlee piper the little foxes vegan writer vegucated recipe