By Alice Robertson
Decluttering is a growing trend, but are Canadians truly committing to a minimalist lifestyle or is decluttering just an excuse to clear up space for more stuff?
Image via Unsplash
There are real benefits to a clutter-free home. Not only does your home look better when it’s neatly-organized, but a clutter-free home also promotes focus and self-efficacy while reducing stress and anxiety. However, when you throw your purged items in the trash or declutter only to go out and buy more stuff, you contribute to a growing environmental problem.
When you throw unwanted stuff away, it doesn’t really go “away.” Every year Canadians produce 720 kilos of waste per person. That’s twice as much waste per capita as Japan and seven percent higher than the United States’ per capita waste output, Canadian Geographic reports. While some waste gets recycled, most of it ends up in the landfill — and even when you think you’re recycling, your waste may still end up in a landfill, either domestically or abroad.
There’s a better way to achieve an orderly home without increasing the burden on the environment. These tips will help you declutter your home in a more eco-friendly fashion.
1. Sell or donate before you trash.
Selling unwanted items or donating them takes more effort than tossing them out, but it keeps things out of the landfill longer and allows shoppers to purchase used items rather than new ones that take resources to create. Reuse is especially important for large items like appliances and furniture, as well as electronics. These items quickly fill landfills and contain toxic materials that pollute the environment. If you prefer to earn some money from your old stuff, sell online. You’ll net more and spend less time than holding a yard sale. Click here to learn more about the second hand economy.
Even items that seem worthless could have a second life. Old linens that aren’t good for home use can be used in animal shelters, broken lawn equipment can be repaired by someone handy, and partially-used products can go to a family that struggles to afford new. Even if you’re not sure someone would want your old stuff, give it a try! You’ll be surprised at how creative people can be.
2. Shop secondhand before buying new.
Don’t just add to the second hand economy, shop from it too. Buying used items saves money and the planet, and oftentimes older items are built to a higher-quality than new consumer goods.
3. Go paperless.
Paper is a major source of clutter in homes. From junk mail to filing cabinets, paper takes up a lot of space. And while paper is one of the more easily recycled materials, it’s still best to reduce usage wherever possible. Once you’ve digitized all your important documents, enroll in e-delivery with the companies you do business with and follow Canada Post’s instructions to stop unwanted mail.
4. Choose nontoxic and plastic-free household products.
Shoppers love conventional household cleaners for their potency, but that strength comes from toxic chemicals that pollute the environment when they’re sprayed in the air or washed down a drain. They’re also bad for human health. The Environmental Working Group lists cleaning products that are safer for the environment and for you. Unfortunately, many of these products generally still come in disposable plastic packaging. The better option is to make or purchase package-free household products and use refillable containers to reduce plastic waste.
5. Skip the plastic garbage bags.
When you do need to toss things out, skip the plastic garbage bag. Spending money on single-use plastics with the sole purpose of throwing them away contributes to the global plastic problem. Instead, put waste in the garbage bin without a bag and wash the bin regularly to keep it clean. If you’re composting and recycling as much as you can, your trash should be quite dry and clean. If you prefer a bag or your waste management company requires it, reuse bags from other household purchases instead of buying new plastic.
Consumers are becoming more conscious about their daily household waste through recycling and composting. However, without a change in buying habits, our waste problem will only continue to grow. The next time you’re planning to declutter, turn to the second hand economy instead of the trash bin and think about how you can adopt more eco-friendly habits for the future.
About the author:
Alice began her career in the home organization industry as a professional house cleaner, which involved lots of decluttering. Over the years, she has helped her clients get rid of everything from old mattresses to outdated electronics to entire closets worth of clothes in aneco-friendly way.
More about Alice: TidyHome.info