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Spring Cleaning

Spring is just around the corner, and that gets many of us thinking about Spring Cleaning. For some individuals, this means a deep clean of the whole house, inside and out. For others, it’s as simple as packing away the bulky boots and coats, and swapping them for sun hats and shorts. Most of us are somewhere in the middle when it comes to getting our living spaces ready for spring. There’s one thing that inevitably comes along with a spring clean, and that’s our excess clutter getting an eviction notice. Often, our undesirable stuff gets sent to the bin, but a good chunk of that trash might be treasure to another person, organization, or alternative recycling facility. 


If you’re looking to get started on a de-cluttering journey, the thing you’ll need most of is time! Set aside a weekend that you (and anyone else who lives with you) can go through your home, room-by-room. 

Begin by separating items in to 4 main sections (Re-home, Discard, Repair, and Keep), and use the guide below to ask yourself some questions about each item. 

Re-Home: You might not wear that mink coat anymore, but an orphaned animal living in a humane society or rehab facility may find cozy comfort in that forgotten furry fashion. When an item has lost its frequency of use or value to you, that doesn’t mean it’s useless! If you attended Re:Purposefest last year, you know that there are dozens of local organizations that can reuse the household items you may no longer find value in. Our Re:Purposefest event will be coming up again this summer, so you may want to hold on to some of that clutter a little longer if you have somewhere to store it. Keep an eye on our website and social media for more updates about Re:Purposefest 2020. 


If you’re not in the position to hold on to your unwanted goods, there are plenty of organizations who can take your items year-round. 

  • The Guelph Tool Library – Our library thrives off of donations of unwanted household items. Over 95% of our 900+ tool and appliance inventory has been donated. Do you have an unwanted (but working) tool or appliance? We would love to have it and share it with our members. 
  • Palz Trading Zone – The barter system is alive and well on this cashless trading platform. If your closet cleanout leaves you lacking in items you need, with a surplus of items you’d like to unload, try trading them with others! Groups are geared to specific cities or areas, and some groups host meetups and community events.
  • Craft SuppliesThe Creation Station is a local initiative for exploring art.  We are collecting arts and crafts materials. 
  • Sheets and Towels – GENTLY USED – Fleece blankets, towels, flat sheets, knitted blankets, baby blankets can be donated to the Guelph Humane Society.  
  • Clothing and Housewares – There are several local thrift stores, consignment shops, and community clothing closets that are willing to take your items that are clean, intact, and in good condition. If your items are not usable or wearable, check out some of the resources below to find the best place to dispose of or recycle your goods. 


Discard – Discarding an item isn’t limited to landfill. Many items can be recycled or reused through alternative programs, and there are a number of collection spots locally or within a reasonable distance. 

  • Guelph Tool Library – We also collect additional items for recycling or reuse:
        • Cell Phones – The GTL collects cell phones for the Toronto Zoo Phone Apes program 
        • Eye Glasses – If you have spare pairs of eyeglasses, we collect them on behalf of the Lions Club of Guelph
        • Batteries – We collect dead batteries on behalf of The City of Guelph, or they can be brought to the Waste Resource Innovation Centre.
  • Markers and Pens – Through in-store collection at over 300 locations across Canada, Staples Canada and Terracycle have successfully diverted over 2 million writing instruments from ending up in landfills.
  • Terracycle –  There are a variety of items that Terracycle accepts through a combination of free and paid recycling programs. Check out their website to see all of their programs
  • Mascara and Makeup WandsProject Wild Wands Canada collects old mascara and makeup wands and sends them to wildlife rehabilitation centres across Canada. 
  • CrayonsCrazy Crayons takes unwanted, rejected, broken crayons to a better place, where they will be recycled into new crayons! 
  • City of Guelph – The Waste Resource Innovation Centre has programs for recycling paint, bicycles, electronic waste, and so much more. The Waste Wizard is also a great resource for helping us determine which bin our waste goes in. 


Repair – For those items you’re not ready to let go of, or you’d like to donate/trade once they are in working condition, repairing is a great way to avoid excess waste. 

  • Repair Cafe – Repair Cafe events are part of an international movement. The Guelph Tool Library hosts Repair Cafes 6 times per year in locations throughout Guelph. Our next event is a mini Repair Cafe, coming up Monday, March 16th at Royal City Brewery from 6 to 8 pm. 
  • Take a Class or Workshop – The Guelph Tool Library offers ongoing workshops in clothing repair, cell phone repair, knife sharpening, and more. Keep an eye on our Calendar of Events to stay in the loop. 
  • Teach Yourself – The Internet is home to limitless resources for repair, including blog posts, sites like Instructables, and for more visual learners, YouTube videos can help you learn everything from electronics repair, to how to darn socks

Keep – When deciding what to keep in a declutter, there are many questions you need to ask yourself. Some methods, like KonMari, tap in to the psychology of clutter, and why we keep the things that we do. 

A few basic things to ask yourself:

Is this item frequently used? Decluttering isn’t necessarily the time to replace your frequently used, functional items. However, it is a great time to take stock of what you have, and to see the last time you used it. Decluttering experts suggest hanging up your clothes with the hanger hook facing all one way. When you take out an item and hang it back up after you wear it, flip the direction of the hanger hook. That way, when you are doing a seasonal declutter, you can see what items you have worn, and what items you have ignored. It is then easier to assess which things you can get rid of. Similar methods could be used for books, kitchen gadgets, and tools. Once you are aware of which items you use, you can decide what things you’d like to keep. It helps to get family members or roommates involved in a declutter as well, as you may not know the significance of each item, or how often it is used. 

Does it have a space in my place? If you are finding a number of items that don’t have a ‘home’, look in to storage solutions that suit your needs, or consider if the item is worth keeping, based on usage level, replacement value, and size. 

What is the replacement value? If it is an item you haven’t used in a long time, but you think you would use again, consider what it would cost to replace the item, or how difficult it would be to find again. Value can also apply to factors that aren’t monetary, such as sentimental or historical value. Try to limit these items when possible, or find the appropriate storage or display to honour and appreciate these special pieces in your collection. 

As you’re working on your spring clean, remember that the Guelph Tool Library carries a number of items to help you stay on track, such as an electronics repair kit, a number of sewing machines, several vacuums and shop-vacs, and even a window washing kit.

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