Decluttering the drawer but filling up the landfill

Filed in Blog by on October 3, 2008 10 Comments
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As one of our readers, Poppy, commented this week, decluttering can really screw up your zero waste ideal.

This week I decided to set myself small goals with decluttering the house. I haven’t done any for a while, I’ve come to a grinding halt and I was feeling bad about the state of the place.

So with my favourite life coach’s voice in my head (call her, she is magnificent) I tackled small, manageable steps.
I decluttered my drawers.

No, not the pretty frilly type.

I did ‘the drawer‘.

You know the one?
Tell me you have one?!
It’s the drawer where everything that doesn’t have a home gets stuffed into.

When you try to open it you can’t, or things fall down the back of it so you can’t close it. You might as well just tip the whole lot away for the good it serves you.

So yes, I went to ‘the drawer’ in the kitchen and was confronted with this:

drawer before decluttering


Where is the potato masher when I want it or the measuring cups?

The irony of course, is that it took me just 15 minutes to do the job while I waiting for my lunch to cook. Such is the joy of procrastination eh?
I found broken faeries wings that have now been reunited with their lopsided ethereal owners,Β  clothes pegs, rubber bands, curtain hooks – all manner of useful things that now have homes.

unfortunately I also found these; which you will have seen mentioned in this week’s weigh in:
leftover rubbish for the landfill

The only place for these little beauties is the landfill (unless I was terribly good at card making, which I’m not). I found plastic corks, a bit of red netting and the front of a broken night light.

So, having a declutter may be good for the soul, but it produces all sorts of sins from your pre zero waste incarnation.

Oh well; at least I have this to show for my efforts:
a decluttered zero waste drawer

About the Author ()

I am a long time supporter of the Green and Sustainable lifestyle. After being caught in the Boscastle floods in 2004, our family begun a journey to respect and promote the importance of Earth's fragile ecosystem, that focussed on reducing waste. Inspired by the beauty and resourcefulness of this wonderful planet, I have published numerous magazine articles on green issues and the author of four books.

Comments (10)

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  1. That’s great going Mrs G. What fantastic results and you’re right about the decluttering. The key is to spend 10- 15 minutes at a time. The problem I’ve got is how not to clutter up again. I’ve got systems for this and systems for that, but this ends up in that and that ends up in this. It’s a blimming good job I stopped working in a library, who knows what would have happened.

    Now as for those corks…you could drop them off at your local playgroup… ;-D

  2. Poppy says:

    The worst problem we have in our kitchen ‘drawer’ at the moment, is plastic bags!! Freezer bags, bread bags, veg bags etc. I’ve learnt to re-use, but I’m not re-using enough, so the drawer ends up stuffed full of the things!

    Some of them are going to have to be diverted to the carrier bag recycling bag and that actually makes me feel quite sad – what a waste. And you can guarantee that the day I send them on their merry way, will be the day that I actually end up needing them and having to break out new ones.

  3. dottyspots says:

    I think everyone has a kitchen drawer like that!

    I’m afraid we are in needing a skip territory atm and whilst I try to be good, I couldn’t contemplate a good attempt at seriously scaling down our waste until I’ve got rid of what we do have. I feel awful about it, but it’s not freecycle or anything-else-able (because if it’s in good condition I post on freecycle or take down to the charity shop).

    I finally managed to remember to subscribe to the feed for htis site now, so atleast I’ll be kept up to date with any new posts straight to my desktop now πŸ™‚ (I’m might be a bit behind the times, but I’m loving RSS feeds!)

  4. Kris says:

    I have at least one kitchen drawer like that, the thing that builds up tends to be paper bags and paper carriers as more seem to come in than I can reuse.

    I need to do a major declutter of papers that have built up in a corner of the kitchen, which in theory is easy as it’s all shredding, recycling box or polythene recycling. It always takes a lot longer to do than I hope though, so I’ve procrastinated a while.

  5. Mrs Green says:

    Mrs A – you and me both. I do a drawer or shelf and then in a few months time it’s back to cluttered again. I know in theory what I should do (short accounts every day and ten minutes tidy before bed) but I just don’t do it long term. Mr Green is talking of converting the garage into another room, but I fear it will become yet another breeding ground. He doesn’t yet ‘get it’ that we don’t need more room, we need less stuff!

    πŸ˜€ Good luck with dispatching the assorted plastic bags, Poppy.

    Hi Dottyspots – RSS feeds are ace! I know what you mean about the skip. Mr Green was having a ‘garage’ moment the other day and I said to him that perhaps we just needed to admit that we had to have a skip for a week. That way we could blitz the house and start fresh. It’s very difficult to feel comfortable with that decision.
    But you know, I was thinking of the ‘average’ family – if we placed a skip on their front garden and instead of weekly rubbish collections they put their rubbish in a skip, I wonder how long it would take to fill it??
    We’re not planning on putting out our bin for 6 months and maybe that would be a skips worth of rubbish to the average household?
    (Or maybe I am trying to justify my actions).
    trouble is I can imagine the paparazzi coming round and headlines such as ‘Zero waste family shock as they hire a skip and show their true colours!’) πŸ˜€

    Kris, you’re right – decluttering with a zero waste mindset does take longer. But it is more satisfying once done πŸ™‚

  6. Wild Cherry says:

    I’m glad I’m not the only one who struggles with these strange dilemmas of trying to be more green and yet finding that some problems defy green solutions. My favourite one to lose sleep over is how much washing of food containers to be recyled is valid before the amount of water I’m using, outweighs the good I’m doing by recycling the container…

    Great blog! I’m posting a Brilliant Weblog award for you on

  7. dottyspots says:

    Crikey, I thought I was bad for finding causes for insomnia πŸ˜‰

    I think that’s the difficulty with trying to be ‘green’, there are no absolutes, only shades of grey and we have to weigh up the pros and cons of what we do.

  8. Mrs Green says:

    Hi Wild Cherry – welcome to the site. I took a browse on your site yesterday and it looks amazing. I love how you combine things on a mind-body-soul level.
    I too have pondered the washing of things – most notably cans and plastics for recycling! I guess using the washing up water is good for this as long as it’s not too greasy.
    Thank you for the award! I’m really chuffed and will pass it on next week πŸ™‚

    Dottyspots; you’re right. Yesterday, in the garden centre we learned about deforestation from the guy who owned the centre. His take on teak garden furniture was that it was good because the trees will be chopped down anyway and if we don’t buy it to make furniture it all gets burned on site………
    The trouble is, none of us really know the ‘bigger picture’ of any of these issues.

  9. dottyspots says:

    Yes and sometimes it can be hard to find out and even harder to make a decision! I’m always finding out new things that make me question my approach (teak furniture for example πŸ˜‰ )

    We have an electric cooker, which I worry about as I don’t think it’s the most efficient way, but then I have concerns about gas… Atleast there is the option to buy ‘greener’ electricity. *sigh*

    Sometimes I wonder about a rayburn (or similar) but again I have concerns about that too and it all starts to spiral till it becomes a 2am I need to go downstairs and have a cup of tea thing, LOL.

    Now I feel a need to go and have a look at Wild Cherry’s site!

  10. Mrs Green says:

    Dottyspots, the most difficult thing is obtaining the information; especially with green washing high in the agenda of many. Without the proper information, how can we make an informed decision?
    We don’t have gas in the village and when I bought a new cooker last year I looked at bottled gas and an Aga, but decided against them. Now I have an A rated electric fan oven and it DOES seem to make a huge difference to the amount of electricity we use.
    I use the woodburner whenever I can too which helps πŸ˜‰

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