After several generations of accumulation and prosperous consumerism behind us, decluttering and minimalism is on the rise. With climate change and plastic reduction a normal part of our everyday thoughts, items getting added to landfills are becoming a hurdle for people looking to have less. Professional organiser Jodi Sharpe from The 25th Hour in Inverness is here with her top tips on avoiding waste while decluttering.
One of the statements I frequently hear from people who get in touch with me for help on the decluttering front is that “I can’t part with xxx, as it’s just so wasteful”. We’ve all done it; made that irrational, unnecessary purchase, left a piece of clothing with its tag still on at the back of the wardrobe or “lost” a sauce in the cupboard only to find it passed its use by date! We often hold onto things because we feel guilt that it is somehow wasteful, but leaving items to collect dust in your home is wasteful because they could be getting used by someone else. So here are my 6 ways to avoid waste while decluttering by passing on your items:
Loaning an item can save both space (from storage), time (for upkeep and maintenance) and money (initial purchase). Things like drills, a car roof box for a one-off camping trip or even a squash racket to try out a new sport are all things that can be easily passed around a group of friends. Over the last few years there has been an emergence of centres which facilitate sharing. One such venture is “The Library of Things”. As the name suggests it works like a traditional lending book library but has a much broader collection of things available. Even if you don’t live near a “borrow” shop of this ilk, you can still make an effort to find a possible solution from friends, families and neighbours. You also get the added bonus of social interaction, something often missing in our communities.
Charity Shops accept a whole host of things that can be given a new life. Some will even come to your home to pick up your donations. Most donations are expected to be in good condition so they can be resold, but many larger charities will also take stained, torn or very worn clothing and sell them on as rags for recycling. Old textiles can be turned into carpets, cleaning cloths and even insulation. If you are unsure what your chosen charity will take, then just give them a quick call.
“Freecycle” & “Freegle” are just 2 good examples of online platforms that allow you to offer items that may not quite fit the criteria required for charitable operations, but are still in great usable condition. I have used these websites to easily pass on used paint, hangers, magazines and padded envelopes. Another great option are animal sanctuaries who welcome bedding like pillows and blankets to help their furry friends feel comfortable.
As well as your limited standard kerbside home recycling, there is an ever increasing range of things that can be recycled. “Terracycle” are an organisation aiming to eliminate the idea of waste by recycling the unrecyclable ! They have free programmes for crisp packets, contact lenses, pens, coffee pods and more. Not all areas are covered so pop over to https://www.terracycle.com/en-GB/ to see what is available near you. Another fabulous opportunity that is often overlooked is plastic bags such as bread and veg bags and even bubble wrap, that can now be collected at most major supermarkets. Last but not least, don’t forget to look into your local recycling centre options that can take mattresses, electronics, scrap metal, batteries and much, much more.
Although this can take a little longer than donating, it can be very fruitful. Online auction sites such as ebay, car boot sales and social media “buy & sell” pages, allow access to large audiences. If you have an abundance of dvds, books or games, then organisations like “Ziffit”, “Music Magpie” or “World of Books” will buy them directly from you.
Keeping things in action longer is vital for all of us to embrace as we seek to increase the sustainability of our planet. It is often the case that repairing something is expensive, time-consuming and sometimes not possible. Fortunately, as environmental and ethical considerations are increasing, we are starting to see good solutions sprouting up. Repair cafes are mostly free to use (you have to pay for the parts you need), and are an exciting option to gain knowledge with a helping hand to repair all sorts of things. Sewing and darning are also having a resurgence to extend the life of our favourite clothes. “Visible mending” is becoming more popular, whereby the pattern created from the sewing repair is now part of the appeal. This is not dissimilar to “kintsugi” seen in Japan where, rather than disguising breaks in pottery, the cracks are enhanced with golden seams. Upcycling is also becoming increasingly more mainstream and accessible with Pinterest arguably being a leading source of inspiration.
In order to maintain a well-organised home, it is absolutely essential to have considered how you will stop the onslaught of “stuff” that keeps on sneaking in. Make sure you’ve considered how you’ll deal with junk mail, gifts and freebies – the major contributors to clutter. When you’re out shopping, stick to your list, and think about the hard work you’ve put into removing clutter from your life.
It is possible to part with “stuff” responsibly and not feel guilty about letting it go. It does take an extra bit of thinking and a shift of mindset, but it is so worth it.
Professional organisers and declutterers are experts in finding efficient ways to give your clutter new life.
You can find your nearest organisers in the “Find an Organiser” section on the APDO website.