Decluttering and zero waste by Russell

Filed in Blog, Guest Posts by on October 22, 2009 12 Comments
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Russell Davis; cognitive hypnotherapist talks about decluttering the zero waste way

Russell Davis; cognitive hypnotherapist talks about decluttering the zero waste way

My guest post today is from Russell Davis who is  Cognitive Therapist with his own practise in West London.  He is passionate about injustice to people and the environment.

Today Russell is going to share some wonderful ideas about decluttering. I am taking notes and going to apply them to our wares at Chez Green as I’ve been a little ‘off’ the decluttering bandwagon of late and need to get back on track!

Russell suggests writing down and telling someone about your goals for decluttering; so feel free to write yours in the comments below if it helps keep you accountable!

De-cluttering may sound like a funny topic when we are talking about reducing the amount of waste/stuff going to landfill – can you de-clutter and achieve this? Why de-clutter?

De-cluttering can give a positive benefit your emotional health, physical space, bank balance as well as helping your local community/charities.  Everyone’s a winner!!

As a Cognitive Hypnotherapist I see many clients with emotional ‘baggage’, things they are not letting go of in the past because they think for some reason or another there is a ‘benefit’ from holding on to it when quite often it is the opposite, it is preventing them feeling free, more confident and happier in their life.

My experience is that it is the same with de-cluttering your home.

We once moved from house to a flat thinking it was going to be a short-term arrangement so we put a lot of our things in to storage.  Two years later we decided we it was crazy to pay for this when were not using the items and didn’t know where our life was going to lead us next.

After much sorting we got rid of 90% of what was in there.  We then continued the process through our flat.  At the end of it we felt lighter…lighter emotionally, freer.  We experienced the emotional connection to possessions.  Yes, some of the decision of what to get rid of were difficult but 3 years later there isn’t anything we really regret getting rid of.  Last week I needed an angle grinder, yes we got rid of ours, but we just borrowed a friends for the 2 pieces of metal we needed to cut.

So, how much of our stuff ended up in landfill.  I think 1 or 2 small items did from easily over a 100 of items.  We did this through:

  • a car boot sale (pile it high, sell it cheap, get out of there as soon as possible was out strategy – we were there to get rid of items, not make the maximum amount of money, although I do still tease my wife for selling my CD player for £1!!!)
  • eBay
  • Freecyle
  • local charity shops
  • second hand furniture shops (they buy items)
  • local furniture charity collections
  • giving away items to family & friends
  • the local recycling centre

So why not do some physical (and emotional) de-cluttering and feel the benefit?

If you are going to then I suggest you set a goal/target.
What are you going to de-clutter by when?
State it in the positive, what you are going to do, not what you are not going to do.  Then write it down.  You are more likely to achieve your goals if you write them down.  Then tell someone – again you are more likely to achieve your goals if you share them with someone.  Then stick it up somewhere prominent like the fridge door.

When it comes to it some rules of thumb to use:

  • Have you used it in the last 12 months?
  • Do you absolutely love it? (is it one of the top 5 things you would you rescue it from a house fire)
  • You have 3 ‘I need it just in case…’ jokers – at the end of the day you will borrow/find another way round things if you need something

If the answer is no to both these questions then out it goes!   If you are finding the process emotionally traumatic then perhaps there is something to learn about what there is in the past you need to let go that is keeping you in the past.  Being free of this will enable you to enjoy the present and the what the future of possibility can hold.

One useful website is Mind over clutter.

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 (12)

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  1. Time and again I hear people (and clients) say they feel a sense of lightness when they get rid of physical clutter. It seems there is a connection between ones external and internal clutter and when the load of the external possessions are lifted it lightens the weight that is felt internally.

  2. just Gai says:

    As an inveterate hoarder I read Russell’s article with interest. I like his sugestion of writing down goals and setting time limits. I have a very cluttered bedroom and a half term holiday … Where’s a piece of paper (recycled, of course) and a pen?

  3. I think I have lot of work to do AND it starts with Russel’s recommended list 🙂

  4. Poppy says:

    I understand this totally, but I have one hell of a job getting Mr P to understand 🙁

    At the moment I am going under with piles of paperwork errrmmm….. filed on the surfaces around where I sit. That is my problem to sort out and I know this, but why oh why does Mr P hang on to 2 week old newspapers? If I try to sneek them into the recycling and he hasn’t got anything else to hand to read, he goes and gets them out again …… !

  5. Every time I clean out my closet, re-arrange my necklaces and start giving away (not as gifts, just as a “Hey, do you like this?” thing), I always feel much better

    Having ONLY my favourite items around is the goal, because I never want to feel any guilt for not wearing that shirt someone gave me, which is not my style, or to feel as though I don’t have enough space in my home.

  6. Mrs Green says:

    @logoscoaching: Hi logoscoaching; thanks for your comment. I totally agree about the feelings connected with decluttering; it certainly feels good!

    @just Gai: Did you set yourself a goal, Just Gai – let’s hear it!

    @Almost Mrs Average: Yay! well done Mrs A – we’ll give you half term off but then we expect some action LOL!

    @Poppy: Oh dear – 2 week old papers is serious stuff, poppy! We have a big stash for starting the fire, so you could always send him around here and then get on with the recycling!

    @The Everyday Minimalist: Hi, welcome to the site – I LOVE your website and now have an RSS for it. You are the Queen of declutter; I think I might be after you for a guest post sometime 😉

  7. russell says:

    Someone else occurred to me the other day, I was reading about information overload. I find I am constantly reading news sites, emails etc. so I have gone on an information diet and information de-clutter. Over the last week I only checked email twice a day, I have not been on the BBC news website (I can get lost for ages on there!) and I thought about the emails I receive – do I really need this? Over time you get on all sorts of mailing lists, and it becomes like junk mail, or just information overload. I have been amazed at how many email subscriptions I have unsubscribed from and I feel so much better! I am more focussed on what I am doing with less information clutter! I know it is not preventing waste, but it is wasted energy that you use on something more productive! So, how about an information de-clutter!!

  8. Mrs Green says:

    @russell: Hi Russell; I totally hear you on this one. I have a purge of RSS feeds, newsletter subscriptions and general information that I choose to read on a regular basis.
    in fact, this week my goal is on my inbox. I’m dealing with all the old mails and trying to get less than 10 un-actioned emails in the box!
    I think your idea of an information declutter is excellent 🙂

  9. Teresa says:

    Oh dear. You got there before me. I was thinking of writing an article on decluttering and dealing with a hoarding problem after finding most advice in books and magazines and on the internet isn’t aimed at zero wasters. OK there is the advice to take unwanted clothes to charity shops but many women are doing this and the shops are inundated with too many clothes that they cannot sell because sizes are too small or because they are no longer in fashion. Also the prices they charge in charity shops are too high so with supply outstripping demand surely the prices could be reduced to half at least. Clothes swaps are a better idea but even better buy fewer clothes and think before you buy. Employ a personal shopper or style consultant so you don’t end up buying mistakes. Learn to mix and match and buy garments that go together. A dress that can be worn during the day could be accessorised to be worn in the evenings as well.

    When I started to declutter ten years’ ago I found that more was coming in than I was getting rid of. That was because it felt like everyone else was doing the same and I had to learn to say ‘no’ instead of accepting stuff I might like to use one day or to pass on to somebody else. This got me downhearted and it stopped me from doing decluttering for a while. I would ask for advice and support and nobody really understood my problem until one day a friend of a friend told me not to allow the stuff (excess or unwanted) into my home in the first place.

    One year at work just before Christmas I suggested to my supervisor we needed to make space in the filing cabinets because I was finding it difficult to file papers away as they were so full and after putting documents to be filed in order I just left them on top of the filing cabinets. She was PA to the director thought this was a good idea as it was quiet just before and after Christmas and started emptying the filing cabinets and sorting them into piles; to keep, to shred and to recycle straight away. The director wanted much of the waste paper to be shredded because of confidentiality and it was my job to be responsible for shredding as well as to unpick staples and bindings and then call the recycling company to pick up the bags of paper. Staff in other departments followed suit and sorted out their filing cabinets. Unfortunately a few years’ later they accumulated just as much paper as they had decluttered since I had left by then. They needed to have done this on an annual basis.

  10. Teresa says:

    I find it difficult to set time limits and deadlines as I rarely stick to them. But what I do instead is tell myself that I cannot have a treat whether it be a cup of coffee, phoning a friend for a chat or buying something I want until I’ve decluttered such and such.

  11. Mrs Green says:

    @Teresa: You could still write something, Teressa, as this post is quite old now and we’re getting new readers all the time. Getting to the root cause of any issue is the key to success. I love how you have positively influenced people at work too.

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