We don't typically post this kind of content but when we got a message from Alice offering to write a guest post for our blog we couldn't turn her down! Thanks Alice! Here's a link to her website if you want to learn more about her work: www.TidyHome.info
4 Steps to Create an Eco-Friendly Decluttering Plan
Have you ever felt swallowed by the stuff in your home? Okay, obviously you aren’t literally being eaten by your belongings, but do you sometimes feel like your possessions own you instead of the other way around — you owning them? If your answer is yes, then you’re not alone. We consume about twice as many products as we did 50 years ago. In fact, the average American home has about 300,000 things in it.
The heaviness of all this stuff weighs on us physically and mentally. You might spend hours looking for something stashed at the bottom of the pile. Or, you may sometimes struggle to find a seat or a surface you can use. Even if your clutter isn’t that overwhelming, we often feel guilty or unworthy when a room in our home is untidy or unkempt. In other words, clutter can seriously limit you physically and drain you mentally.
You don’t have to wait until spring to give your home a good spring cleaning. In fact, you may enjoy every season a bit more if you focused on establishing a good decluttering plan year-round. Here are a few tips for establishing and maintaining a decluttering routine.
Going green when you clean makes your home happier and healthier. When cleaning, find sustainably (or even better, regeneratively) produced products that can be reused or recycled after you use them. Look for products that are made without petroleum-based chemicals (all-purpose cleaners are available for under $5). Going green is about more than what you use; it’s also about what you throw away and how you do it. For a deep clean, look for a cleaning service that uses eco-friendly products.
Recycle and Reuse
When you purge your home of belongings, it doesn’t matter how green you clean if everything winds up in a landfill. The effort to be environmentally conscious goes down the drain when we aren’t conscious of where those items end up when we throw them “away”. Be sure to recycle all of the paper, plastic, and aluminum products you can — just look for the recycle symbol on the item or its packaging. However, not everything that can be recycled is labeled with the symbol. For example, did you know you can recycle your old mattress and furniture? Instead of letting them rot in a landfill, you can have a recycle company pick them up or donate them to a local charity so they can be reused by someone who needs it.
You can also recycle most stretchy plastics like bread bags, grocery bags, Ziploc bags, Amazon shipping air pillows etc. at grocery store drop-offs that can be looked up at How2Recycle.info. But remember, recycling is not all it’s cracked up to be, and in some cases is environmentally more harmful than throwing something in the landfill. We should always prioritize roughly in this order: reduce, reuse, repair, rebuild, refurbish, refinish, resell, recycle then, finally, compost. Everything else should be restricted, redesigned or removed from production. Props to Pete Seeger for that modified quote.
Embrace the Cloud
In case you haven’t noticed, we are in the full-blown digital age. If you haven’t quite caught up yet, then listen up: You can harness the power of the cloud to remove clutter from your home. Old photo albums collecting dust? Scan them in and save the digital copies. Make sure they are high resolution so you can print them again later if you want. You can also do the same thing for important papers that you don’t need hard copies of. You can even take pictures of items that are sentimental but no longer useful — instead of letting those things take over your home, you can donate them and use those pictures to reminisce.
Organize and Categorize
One of the best ways to get organized is to create a plan for categorizing your items. For example, if you have an overflowing closet, you can try turning all your hangers facing in. Each time you wear a piece, return the hanger to its standard position. At the end of the season, anything facing the opposite direction hasn’t been worn and likely won’t be needed again.
Once you have done this, you can donate, sell, or store what you didn’t use. If you have sentimental items that you don’t want, but also don’t want to toss, consider giving them to an appreciative family member. If you’re holding on to family heirlooms that no longer fit with your style or serve a purpose, consider donating them to support a charity that was meaningful to the person who gave them to you.
Don’t forget to tackle oft-overlooked areas; for example, your entertainment center can be better organized with just a few simple changes. Keep cords together with twist ties, and store remote controls in a nearby basket for easy access. The television can be mounted to the wall to further reduce clutter. Consider contacting a service to have your TV mounted, which costs an average of $159 to $353 for most homeowners in Los Angeles.
Putting similar items together in a container can be a great way to declutter an area. When doing this, consider purchasing a used container made from biologically-based materials like a woven basket as opposed to a plastic container made from petroleum. Even if the plastic is made from other feedstocks like hemp or corn we’ve heard that they are made of the same polymers and thus have a similar negative impact on wildlife as petroleum-based plastics do. If you know differently let us know!
If you feel trapped by your possessions, you might feel too overwhelmed to start making changes. However, if you start small and stay focused on one task at a time, you can create and sustain a less cluttered lifestyle. It may not always be easy, but it is never impossible.