Zero Waste Team: Four Things To Focus On While Spring Cleaning This Year

Zero waste handwritten text title sign with green eco leaves. Waste management concept isolated illustration on white background.


Zero Waste Tip: Minimalism does not have to mean owning only 50 items, it means that everything you own brings meaning to your life.

Spring has sprung once again which means it is time for spring cleaning. This is a great time to start doing small things in your home to become zero waste, which means not creating waste in our homes. When cleaning out your homes, garages, sheds, or yard keep in mind the following to start and keep your home zero waste.


Living intentionally is the ultimate goal of minimalism. Every item you own, whether it is clothes, kitchenware, food, or furniture should have a purpose. Possessions that do not bring meaning or have a purpose can cause unneeded clutter that can be easily eliminated. Next time you go through your closet, kitchen, or any area in your house, make sure each item is useful to you. By only keeping items that spark joy, slowly, item by item, your house will become more organized, minimalistic, and intentional.


While spring cleaning this year and disposing of unneeded items, consider the recyclability of each item. Though not available locally, the website Terracycle offers great ways to recycle a variety of items. Offer to partner with other parents to package up baby clothes that Carter will recycle, for example. Or check out the partnership that TerraCycle has with Burt’s Bees that created a free recycling program for Burt’s Bees branded personal care, lip care, and beauty care packaging.

Simply search an item on the Terracycle website and it will provide you with several collection programs to choose from depending on your location. Waste that is not normally recyclable, from old pens to granola bar wrappers, can be shipped to Terracycle where they find creative solutions to continue the lives of single use plastics.

Going forward, you should also refrain from buying single use plastics in the future after disposing or upcycling any which are currently in your home when spring cleaning. If you are unsure whether an item should be thrown away or recycled through the County trash/recycling program, you can use the County’s Recycle Coach website or app to find out what goes where. Recycle Coach is a free tool for recycle information and can be downloaded on your smartphone. You can also email or call the Eco Station at 505-662-8163 for additional recycle questions.


If some of the items you decide to get rid of while spring cleaning are still usable and in good condition, remember to donate items locally. Nonperishable foods can be donated to those in need through collection bins at the Aquatic Center, Senior Centers, and little food pantries at churches. Famine to Feast is another great place to drop off food. You can contact them at 505-692-7817 or you can check out their website at and there is a contact us button to contact them.

Also consider dropping clean, usable items off at a local thrift shop. Do not dump your trash off at thrift shops, Goodwill, or donation centers! Make sure there is still value and life in the items you donate. Some online groups where you can post items to be picked up by other community members include the “Buy Nothing Los Alamos” Facebook group and the Los Alamos Freecycle website.

At the Los Alamos County Eco Station, located at 3701 E. Jemez Rd.,there is a Big Brother Big Sister donation box that residents can use, and it will not count against their 12 annual loads. The box accepts donations of clothing, linens and bedding, curtains, houseware, and small appliances. There is also donation boxes at the Shell Gas station located at 2591 Trinity Dr.

Buying in Bulk
Recycling is not as sustainable as many of us have been taught to believe, especially plastic recycling. Out of all the single use plastics tossed into the recycle bin, only nine percent is ever recycled because of the expensive and time-consuming process of sorting and melting plastic. Recycling plastic also causes air pollution in the form of toxins which are released when plastic is melted. For more info on plastic recycling, visit this very thorough article and podcast from NPR

How do we solve this plastic problem if recycling is not a sustainable solution? For now (until LANL creates an entirely biodegradable plastic alternative through the BOTTLE Project), our best option is to buy as little single use plastics as possible. Aluminum recycling is still very sustainable, so consider buying drinks in cans rather than plastic bottles. Glass is very heavy and creates a lot of carbon emissions when being shipped for recycling, so try to repurpose old glass bottles and jars before tossing them in the recycling bin.

One way to do this is by using glass jars to shop in the bulk section of our Co-op or any other store with bulk items. Simply weigh your empty jar or container to get a tare weight with the Co-op’s new weighing machine in the bulk section and fill your jar with any of the bulk items, including flour, granola, beans, rice, nuts, and much more. While cleaning out your pantry this spring, think about including room for bulk items and eliminating some of the waste that is produced in your kitchen.

There is already much to do with spring cleaning at home. By thinking about these four things while cleaning, it should make spring cleaning easier the next year. If you want more tips about where to start or how to be zero waste, please feel free to reach out to the Zero Waste Team at or message them on their Facebook Page Zero Waste Los Alamos.