Most of us tend to accumulate lots of “things” over time. But when these “things” take over, it’s often termed as “clutter”. When your home is full of clutter, it can make you feel stressed, not to mention it can cause you to lose important stuff. Think about all the minutes you spend looking for things because of clutter. Clutter makes it more difficult to clean, too, and can even impact your ability to get a good night’s sleep.
The prospect of clearing out the clutter from every room of the home is something that is daunting, but one that many of us need to face. When it comes to decluttering though, doing so in an eco-friendly way will make you feel much better about both your home and the environment. Decluttering with the environment in mind means that you can help to avoid sending your items to the landfill while also creating far less waste.
Let’s take a look at these handy tips for decluttering your home the eco-friendly way.
First Things First: Declutter Room by Room
If the prospect of tidying and organizing your whole house seems like it’s going to be impossible, set small goals each day. Begin in one room, and focus on one corner, working your way around the entire space as you go. If a room feels like too humongous of a task, start with something smaller, like a closet or even a drawer.
In addition to breaking down your decluttering into bite-sized tasks, it’s also a good idea to set out a plan on paper with regards to a workable schedule that you can stick to.
Now, let’s talk about some specific areas that you can focus on decluttering in an environmentally-friendly way.
Recycle Your Old Electronics
We all have a cupboard or drawer that’s filled with old electronics that “might come in handy someday.” Be honest with yourself, will you really use these old devices again? Probably not. So either list your ancient electronics on an online buy-and-sell site, donate them to charity if they’re in good, safe working order, or drop them off at an electronics recycling center.
What To Do with Old Clothes
Most of us are guilty of keeping a closet, drawers, or storage bins full of old clothes should they come back into fashion, or for when we lose or gain weight. Chances are that these clothes we’re hoarding will never be used again. Getting rid of these old clothes is a very good way to free up some space in your wardrobes, not to mention provide those who are less fortunate and need new clothes with an affordable option.
To start, lay them all out on the floor or bed and examine everything. You should think about discarding any clothes that are torn or past their best, and ones you haven’t worn in at least one year. Any clothes that are in good condition should be donated to charity. Any particularly good or sought-after labels can also be sold by a consignment store or at your own garage sale, making you a little money into the bargain.
Textiles are a big part of landfill waste, so through donating or selling them, you’ll be doing your little bit for the environment.
Reusable Grocery Bags
As the name suggests, these grocery bags are meant to be used over again, so do it! Also, if your local grocery store offers a place to recycle your old plastic bags take advantage of this. Be sure that you stock up on reusable eco-friendly cloth bags for the future.
Books, DVDs, and CDs
If you’ve piles of old books that you don’t read, DVDs that you don’t watch, or CDs that you don’t listen to, donate these to charity so that others can gain the benefit of them. You can also donate these to local libraries, learning centers, schools, or even just sell them.
Consider buying an eBook reader instead, as you can potentially store hundreds of digital books in one tiny space. Think about getting a subscription to a movie streaming service, such as Netflix or Amazon Prime, to save even more space. There are also music streaming sites, like Pandora, that can help you to get your music fix without storing a bunch of CDs.
If you’ve mountains of bills lying around gathering dust, go paperless instead, and set up your accounts to be paid direct from your bank. This way, you will be both helping the environment as well as ensuring you’ll never miss out on paying your bills ever again.
This is perhaps one area where we can all do better. Take a look in anyone’s bathroom, and there’s likely to be piles of half-empty shampoo bottles cluttering the space. With this in mind, why not try making your own beauty products, that will minimize waste, as well as keep potentially harmful chemicals away from your body? This way, you will know exactly what’s going into your products, and you can also put them in reusable containers, thus significantly reducing packaging and plastic bottle use.
While we’re on the subject, ensure that you use up all your bottled toiletries, rather than discarding them when they’re almost finished.
Medicine and Supplements
Check the expiration dates on your prescription drugs, over-the-counter medicines, and vitamins and supplements. If they are past the expiration date, it’s time to safely discard them. Many communities have prescription take back programs or mail back programs, so be sure to see if your community has one of these.
Other options include mixing these products (without crushing them) with an unpleasant substance, such as kitty litter, dirt, or coffee grinds, put them in a sealable bag and discard them in the trash. There are some medications that the FDA reports that should be disposed of by flushing down the sink or toilet to prevent unintentional harm to a person or pet.
Create meal plans for each week, and buy in bulk to reduce wasteful packaging. Freeze bulk items and date them so you know when to cook and eat them.
Dishes and Glasses
Over the years you’ve likely accumulated a fair amount of crockery and glasses. If you have some that you don’t need or use, consider donating them to charity or gifting them to a friend who may need them.
Children outgrow their toys at an incredible rate. Teaching your kids to clear out clutter and to donate unwanted toys to other children in need is a valuable lesson that will stay with them into adulthood.
Help your kids by going through their old toy box with them, and discussing how other children may benefit from their donations.
Say No to Junk Mail
We all receive loads of junk mail on a daily basis, and most of it doesn’t even get read, usually ending up either in a pile or in the recycling bin. Junk mail is a terrible waste of paper, so take control of it, and register for the Mail Preference Service here, so that your name and address details are removed from mailing lists.
Restore and Repurpose
Take a look at old pieces of furniture, doors, or similar items around the house, and figure out what ones can be given a makeover or repurposed.
Other Large Items. If you have other large items that you aren’t sure how to get rid of, consider freecycling. You simply post the items that you want to get rid of for someone to come pick up.
Getting into the habit of decluttering can be difficult, especially if you are new to the idea. However, the benefits are immense, as you will enable yourself to live a lower impact lifestyle, to form better shopping habits, and to buy less in general. Buying less will mean that fewer resources and energy will be needed to make the products you use, not to mention that you’ll be saving money, and will have less to dispose of later.
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