The RedCycle soft plastics recycling program was paused on 9 November 2022. You can put your soft plastics in the bin or keep them until more is known about whether the program will start again. Some councils are now accepting soft plastics recycling, so check what's available in your area.
Clearing clutter from your home not only creates space you never knew you had, but it can also help relieve stress (as you revel in all things clean, neat and orderly), make you more organised, and bring a sense of calm (rather than chaos) to your life.
As an added bonus, you can also do some good by passing on things you no longer need to someone who does. Or recycle items that would otherwise end up in landfill.
If you find yourself with a bit of extra time at home (because of a lockdown or otherwise), try these simple steps to refresh and reorganise your surroundings.
Do you really need all those kitchen appliances taking up space in the cupboard? Honestly?
1. Audit your appliances
Making extra space in the kitchen cupboards is always a good thing.
Are there appliances you're not really using that are taking up valuable space? Perhaps that bulky ice-cream maker or a blender gathering dust, or an unwanted Christmas gift you know you're never going to use?
Brush them off and donate to charity stores – just make sure the store accepts the appliance you want to donate, and that what you're giving them is in good working condition.
2. Swap, sell, or pass it on
A good rule to follow: If you or your children haven't worn or used something for more than a year, it's time to let it go.
A good wardrobe declutter (or clear-out of the toy box) can be therapeutic, and you could help someone in need, or even make a bit of cash, by passing on unwanted items using platforms such as Freecycle or buy, swap, sell groups on social media.
If you don't have enough storage in place for your wardrobe (stacking boxes for your shoes, for example, or hanging racks), head to stores such as Ikea, Kmart or Howard's Storage World for solutions at lower price points.
Can't bear it: If your children haven't used a toy over the past six to 12 months, it might be time to pass it on. Sorry, Pooh.
3. Clear out your cleaning cupboard
We test hundreds of cleaning products in our labs, including sprays, detergents and floor cleaners. Some products that are marketed for different purposes are essentially the same thing, and many don't even deliver the results they promise.
You don't need to buy 57 different cleaning products – just use the same one for everythingAshley Iredale, CHOICE cleaning product expert
Shockingly, many products, including most floor cleaners and some multi-purpose cleaners, fail to outperform plain water.
And our recent tests of surface cleaners reveal there's virtually no difference between multipurpose cleaners and kitchen sprays.
This means you can sometimes switch multiple products (and purchases) for just one.
"Scores are comparable across kitchen and multipurpose cleaners, so our takeaway is that they're all essentially the same thing," says CHOICE cleaning product expert Ashley Iredale.
"You don't need to buy 57 different cleaning products – just use the same one for everything."
4. Get rid of unsafe products
While you're busy decluttering, keep an eye out for products in your home that are unsafe, particularly for children.
Beware button batteries
For example, we've found that many common household products contain unsecured button battery compartments. These can lead to children swallowing the batteries, which can be hazardous.
In fact, a worrying 10 out of 17 common products failed our button battery safety tests.
Because it's not illegal to sell unsafe products in Australia, there could well be other unexpectedly dangerous items in your home, such as cots, bunk beds and other children's and baby products.
5. Go paperless
Got mountains of paper bank statements or bills sitting around that you mindlessly stick on the fridge or forget to pay?
Save a few trees and go paperless to get digital bills sent directly to your inbox.
Even better, set up standing direct debits so you don't miss payment deadlines. It's easy to do if you call your provider or visit their website.
Or, for important mail where a paperless option isn't available, scan or take a photo on your phone and file it away digitally (then dispose of the mail securely).
This works for receipts for purchases too – when in store, ask if receipts can be emailed to you so you can keep electronic records, as long as you're happy to give your email address.
6. Clean out the fridge and stack it properly
You've been avoiding this, haven't you?
If you have oyster sauce that expired in 2015 sitting on a fridge shelf, mouldy leftovers, or a chutney you thought would be perfect for a cheeseboard but you never used it, now's the time for a purge.
Then, give your fridge a good clean.
Once your fridge is as good as new, make sure you stack it properly to reduce food spoilage and cut down on energy bills.
While you're at it, here's a list of foods you don't need to refrigerate (and, in case you were wondering, 70% of CHOICE staff keep their tomato sauce in the fridge).
7. Give yourself a plastic makeover
Do you have a drawer or cupboard overflowing with mismatched plastic containers that you guiltily close the door on?
Sort through to match up lids with containers and consider getting rid of the ones you don't need.
If you think your stash needs a revamp, check out our review of plastic containers, including products from brands such as Kmart, Decor, Sistema and Tupperware, to ensure you're buying the best (FYI, there are some cheaper plastic containers that performed just as well as more expensive brands in our tests).
Do you collect soft plastics to recycle? Now is a great time to start.
Add an extra bin or reusable shopping bag under your kitchen sink to collect soft plastics such as food packaging, plastic sleeves from meat trays, kids' yoghurt pouches and some post parcel packaging.
Add an extra bin or reusable shopping bag under your kitchen sink to collect soft plastics
To reduce plastic waste further, you could consider using beeswax wraps or reusable food covers instead of clingfilm.
Small reusable string produce bags mean you don't have to pick up more plastic bags in the supermarket or fruit shop.
8. Don't be (too) sentimental
Of course, you need to make space for precious mementos such as photo albums or family heirlooms. But make sure you're keeping things because they really mean something to you, not just out of obligation.
Make sure you're keeping things because they really mean something to you, not just out of obligation
Your three-year-old probably won't notice if you don't keep every single one of her daycare artworks. And that dinner set from Grandma Sue could find a much better home with someone who might actually use it.
Going digital is a great way to preserve memories while saving space. There are apps that let you chronologically store, share and print your child's artwork or school work. Also, consider making photobooks (check out our review of photobook services).
9. Recycle, repurpose or donate old tech
Getting rid of old computers or mobile phones is easier than it might seem. Just make sure you wipe any devices of personal data before you get rid of them.
Or, find new ways to repurpose old tech you thought you no longer had use for – hand down old smartphones to kids who are ready for one, or learn how to upgrade your hardware.
You can also donate old laptops and devices to some charities, such as those for refugees or disadvantaged young people.
10. Get the cleaning gloves out
Did you know you're supposed to clean your mattress (to vacuum up dust mites) at least once a month? And that you should regularly clean your washing machine and dishwasher?
Don't worry, we're not great at remembering to do this stuff either. But the fact is, cleaning and maintaining large home appliances is essential to ensure they last as long as possible.
Plus, there are probably a few fiddly jobs you've been avoiding. Here are some guides that can help with those:
- How to get rid of mould
- How to clean an inkjet or laser printer
- How to clean and care for your ugg boots
- How to clean a cooktop
Stock images: Getty, unless otherwise stated.