A zero-waste guide to Spring cleaning your home, room by room

There are many theories about where the tradition of Spring cleaning sprang from. In some parts of the world, it’s tied to banishing lingering ash spread by winter fires or mildew that crept in during the long chill. In others, it’s a preparation for cultural celebrations that bring good fortune for the new season.

Whatever its origins, a warming Spring breeze may soon inspire you to clean out cluttered corners and drawers around your home. But keep this in mind: it’s estimated the average Australian produces 704kg of rubbish every year, while the average Kiwi creates 740kg.

There’s no doubt a Spring clean is great for our homes and our wellbeing. You can make sure it’s planet-friendly too, by not sending the results of your decluttering to landfills. Follow our  room-by-room tips for a waste-free Spring clean.


Person in kitchen smiling while they tidy up for a spring clean.

Save kitchen waste from landfills with TerraCycle 
Many kitchen essentials come packaged in containers which aren’t kerbside recyclable. To avoid sending these to landfills, you can recycle difficult-to-recycle items for free through TerraCycle.

In Australia and New Zealand, the Fairy and Ambi Pur Dish and Air Care Recycling Program repurposes items like aerosol air fresheners and dishwashing liquid caps, while the GLAD Food Care Program provides a solution for cling wrap and plastic sandwich bags. And if your family includes cats or dogs, you can drop off empty pet food packaging at stores and vet clinics collecting for the Royal Canin Recycling Program.

If you’re keen to give even more kitchen equipment a second life, our Zero Waste Box for the kitchen lets you recycle bits and bobs like worn-out tea towels, sponges and flexible plastics. Find out why this is a paid solution.

Repair cracked crockery using the kintsugi technique
If your ceramics aren’t in a donatable condition, try your hand at the Japanese art of kintsugi. Translating to “golden repair”, this process involves mending broken or chipped bowls, plates and cups with lacquer made from powdered gold, silver or platinum. The idea is to draw attention to the break and the history of the item, rather than disguise it. You can master this mindful practice with help from kintsugi courses and food-safe kintsugi kits.

Compost your food waste
When organic matter gets tossed into landfills and rots among the garbage (rather than decomposing in the earth) it creates methane gas, a greenhouse gas more potent than carbon dioxide. Help minimise these harmful fumes by first ensuring you don’t let food go to waste, then compost any leftovers.

We’ve got handy guides on starting a home compost or setting up a worm farm. If you don’t have the room for one of these setups, see if your council offers collection services for composting food and garden organics. Otherwise, apps like ShareWaste connect you with neighbours seeking materials to add to their own compost piles.

Explore refillable cleaning products or go DIY
There are now heaps of cleaning brands that offer refillable packaging. When you are disposing of everyday cleaning packaging that’s difficult to recycle, make use of our Dish and Air Care Free Recycling Program. And if you’re keen to concoct cleaning tinctures at home, white vinegar and bicarb soda have minimal environmental impact and are ideal for deodorising, scrubbing, glass cleaning and cutting through grease.

Bedrooms, living and home office

A desk with a laptop, monitor, plants and stationary that's been organised during a spring clean.

Mend, sell or donate clothes and furniture
There are plenty of ways to revive outfits and armchairs that have seen better days. If you’re feeling creative, learn the basics of sewing and furniture reupholstery – you can learn online or even commit to a TAFE course

If you’d rather make a buck during your Spring clear-out, consider selling usable items via online marketplaces like Gumtree or Depop. And if clothes are beyond repair, book a collection with Upparel who recycle tired textiles or rehome usable items with charities – it costs $25 to recycle 10kg of unwanted clothing, shoes, swimmers, linen and more.

If your items are in good nick but still need the flick, charities like the Salvation Army, Vinnies and the Red Cross will gladly take donations. Just remember they don’t accept stained or broken furniture or clothes. If you dump broken items with these charities, the disposal burden is on them, and they may not always be able to find recycling options.

Give toys and office equipment a new life through TerraCycle
If you’ve got a kids corner cluttered with old or broken toys, drop them off for free at BIG W stores across Australia for recycling through TerraCycle, or sign up for our free mail-in PAW Patrol toy recycling program (all brands of toys are accepted in both schemes). 

For a home office overhaul, consider investing in an Office Separation Zero Waste Box to recycle everything from CDs to art supplies and electronics. You can also clear out your stores of used-up pens and glue sticks on your next run to Officeworks: their free stationery recycling collection gets sent to TerraCycle for processing. If you’ve exhausted free options and still have more household odds and ends to responsibly dispose of, the All-In-One Zero Waste Box is a convenient catch-all, for everything from air filters to eye-wear and pet supplies,

Recycle mattresses locally 
We’ve likely all seen forlorn mattresses abandoned by the roadside, but this shouldn’t be their final resting place! Many local councils offer free mattress recycling at waste management centres or through collection services to repurpose the major mattress components – steel springs, wood and foam. If you’re farewelling tired sheets and towels as well, you can drop them into Sheridan stores to be recycled.


A bathroom hanger with soap, wooden scrubbing brushes and a resuable bag holding toilet paper rolls.

Stock up on recycled toilet paper
You can’t clear out the loo paper cupboard, but you can commit to restocking it with environmentally friendly rolls this Spring. Who Gives a Crap is an Aussie brand making TP from either 100% recycled paper or bamboo, which grows much faster than the alternative source – trees. 

They deliver these plush 3-ply rolls to your door wrapped in paper rather than plastic, and donate 50% of their profits to providing clean drinking and washing water to communities in need around the globe. In New Zealand, local brands like Ecoroll and With Small are running similarly sustainable toilet paper operations.

Recycle beauty empties, razors, toothbrushes and more via TerraCycle
While your bathroom bin may take a while to fill up with razors, toothpaste tubes and mascara wands, these common items add up to a hefty waste pile. And importantly, they usually end up in landfills since they’re made from complex materials that aren’t easy to recycle.

Happily, there are now numerous free TerraCycle programs to help you keep these items out of landfill-bound bins. We currently have free recycling solutions for razors, oral care products, haircare packaging and empty skincare and beauty products. Simply sign up for the relevant TerraCycle programs in Australia or New Zealand, collect your bathroom rubbish in any available box, download a free shipping label and send it to TerraCycle for processing. 


A garage shelf with spray cans, tie-down straps, books and a running shoe.

Recycle worn-out wetsuits, thongs and runners 
If you’ve been hoarding worn-out wetsuits and footwear in your garage while you figure out the most responsible way to give them the boot, it’s time to take the next step. In Australia, you can take any brand of wetsuit to Rip Curl stores for recycling through TerraCycle. If you have a family of tired Havaianas thongs, you can mail them to TerraCycle for free or drop them off for collection at participating stores for recycling (check the TerraCycle map to find a store collecting near you).

Across Australia and New Zealand, Nike is recycling or repurposing runners and other athletic gear. Aussies can also use the Tread Lightly map to drop off joggers at more than 400 sports retailers around the country to be sent for recycling.

Upcycle street finds into garden ornaments
Ultra-dedicated declutterers can Spring clean beyond the bounds of their home and into the streets. During council clean-ups you can find a bounty of materials on the roadside with upcycling potential that may otherwise head to landfills. Check out this bizarre but beautiful garden sanctuary adorned with kitchen scales, rusty tools, fuel canisters, bathtubs and electrical cables for inspiration.

What you can win recycling with TerraCycle this Spring

TerraCycle partners with brands to sponsor our free recycling programs, and this Spring you’ll enjoy extra recycling incentives from September 5 until the end of October, 2022. Sign up to programs or ship in your rubbish for recycling and you could win prizes, get product discounts or boost your TerraCycle points that go towards supporting charities and schools. 

Check out what you can win across the participating programs (keep an eye on our social media for more details).

Sign up to winShip to win
Jeuneora Free Recycling Program
Go into the draw to win a Jeuneora skincare product pack worth $336.

Available in Australia & New Zealand
Royal Canin Free Recycling Program
Get triple TerraCycle Points for every shipment you send in to bump up your charitable donations.
Available in Australia & New Zealand
L’OR, Moccona, illy & Campos Capsules Free Recycling Program
Go into the draw to win a L’OR Barista Premium Latte machine valued at $249. PLUS, add code ‘RECYCLE’ to your TerraCycle shipping label for a 25% discount on L’OR capsules until the end of October.
Available in Australia
Schwarzkopf Free Recycling Program
Go in the draw to win a Schwarzkopf product pack worth more than $150. PLUS earn triple TerraCycle Points for every shipment you send in.

Available in Australia & New Zealand
L’OR, Moccona, illy & Campos Capsules Free Recycling Program
Go into the running to win a coffee pack including cups, glasses and coffee capsules worth $400.
Available in New Zealand
GLAD Food Care Free Recycling Program
Earn triple TerraCycle Points for every shipment you send in.

Available in Australia & New Zealand
Edible Beauty Free Recycling Program
Go into the draw to win an Edible Beauty skincare set valued at $200. PLUS, new recyclers will get 30% off their next Edible Beauty purchase.
Available in Australia
Maybelline Free Recycling Program
Scan the QR code when recycling in store at Priceline for 50 bonus loyalty points on your Sister Club account (from September 22 to October 5).
Available in Australia
MooGoo Free Recycling Program
Go into the running to win 1 of 3 MooGoo product refills for milk wash, shampoo and conditioner, each worth $111 each.
Available in Australia
PAW Patrol Free Recycling Program
Go into the draw to win 1 of 3 PAW Patrol toy prize packs worth $229.98 each.

Available in Australia
Olay Free Recycling Program
Go into the draw to win an Olay skincare prize pack worth $238.97. PLUS, get triple TerraCycle Points for every shipment.
Available in Australia
Sukin Free Recycling Program
Go into the draw to win a Sukin product pack valued at $123. PLUS Sukin will double their charity donations for each shipment.
Available in Australia
Burt’s Bees Free Recycling Program
Go into the draw to win a Burt’s Bees product pack valued at $202.29. PLUS earn triple TerraCycle Points.
Available in Australia

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