Decluttering missions without the landfill waste

Filed in Blog by on January 31, 2011 24 Comments
FavoriteLoadingAdd article to favourites
Rummage through your herbs and spices and use them up!

Rummage through your herbs and spices and use them up!

I’ve been busy decluttering again, under the watchful gaze of Colleen over at 365lessthings.

My aim is to declutter without creating any landfill waste – so far so good, but let’s see what I’ve been up to this week.

I know some of you are decluttering your own homes; let me know how you are doing in the comments below!


Colleen sent us to our jewellery boxes to cull the extras. I don’t have excessive jewellery but I did find a couple of pieces to donate to a charity shop. The trouble is, while I was in the charity shop, I ended up buying, what appear to be, an antique string of pearls. Oh well, two out, one in – that’s not too bad …

Digital photos

Colleen really pushed my buttons with Tuesday’s mission. We had to open a photo sub folder on our computer and delete the not-so-great pictures. This is one of my procrastination jobs, but I did what I was told (sort of) and ended up with a few folders of the photos I want printed for my 2010 album.


On Wednesday we had to find one electrical device in our homes we never use and sell or give it away. This was challenging for me and I never found anything. But ya know, you can do as I say and not as I do – read more about responsible disposal of WEEE.

Christmas decorations

We had to check around our homes for any missed Christmas decorations and put them with the rest. Fortunately I didn’t find any forgotten angels or baubles but I did get Mr Green to go up into the loft and actually put everything away – yay! No more tripping over the box at the top of the stairs – thank you Colleen 🙂

Aspiration clutter

Last week I wrote quite extensively about aspirational clutter and this week we had to get rid of yet another item. I released an arts and crafts book to a happy recipient. Find out how to declutter books the zero waste way.

Herbs and spices

On Saturday we had to go through our spice collection and declutter any we won’t use. Fortunately there was nothing there for me to get rid of; we’re big herb and spice users here at zero waste towers; so much so, we dry our own herbs for both cooking and making herbal tea. I’ve even been known to reuse the glass herb jars.

Picnic items

On Sunday we had a taste of spring by checking all our picnic ware and blankets to ensure they were in good working order. I must admit I tend to not have special picnic ware, I use items like my funky plastic containers which we use daily in the kitchen along with stainless steel drinking bottles, so I got off lightly.

How about you? I know a few of you are working around some decluttering at home – how have you got on this week?

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 (24)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Julie Day says:

    Unlike you I found items I had to put to landfill. A plastic bag which had a receipt in for a tv and labels. But most of it went to recycling or for reuse, so not too bad.

  2. Julie Day says:

    Will keep going there to see what I can do.

  3. Kate says:

    Unfortunately I am new to buying thoughtfully and am a packrat by nature. So a lot of my clutter is just trash. I can recycle a great deal of it, but (for example) I have 3 different kinds of plastic tubes of face wash that I finally got rid of last year. They are half full because they didn’t work for me, or because they contain chemicals that I now don’t want on my skin, or…..whatever. I didn’t use them. I don’t want to throw them out because they aren’t recyclable but this sort of thing turns my basement into a landfill which really just seems bad in a different way. So now I am stuck with the results of my own bad decisions from the past 6 or 7 years and am unsure how to proceed responsibly.

  4. Sooz says:

    I’m in the same boat as Kate…my mum has just bought a new house that is a looot smaller than our current house, I now have lots of crap from my childhood and teenage years that HAS to go, I can’t justify keeping empty squeezy tubes of toiletry stuff becuase they can’t be recycled, it makes me sad to put them in the landfill, but at least I won’t buy unrecycleable replacements 🙁

  5. Jo says:

    Kate, I understand what you’re going through. Thinking like this caused me to dither for a long time on things that were clearly garbage. You just have to decide to make different choices in the future. Tomorrow is a brand new day. You can buy less, or buy differently (such as products in recyclable containers). But for that old stuff, sometimes the only place for it is the landfill – and not the one in your basement! Try doing just a few things at a time. That can make it easier to get past the guilt and get started. At least, it helped me.

  6. Jo says:

    Er, of course, I realize my comment wasn’t really in keeping with the post topic! But sometimes we have to clear our past mistakes – recycle, reuse, repurpose, donate, and yes even send some to landfill – and then start again keeping in mind the great ideas shared here.

  7. @Kate: Kate would it be possible to use the face wash as liquid hand soap or would you rather it not near any skin not just your face. I just add any of these kinds of cleaners to my existing soap pump and use them up. Fortunately I am starting to run out and will soon be down to only the products I like.

  8. Hi Mrs Green,
    once again you have done me proud for three reasons…
    1. You got through all your mini missions once again.
    2. There was a mission that you didn’t have to perform due to the fact that you had not clutter in that area.
    3. You got your husband in on the act. (I like this one the best) 🙂

    My husband also joined in the decluttering last weekend by cleaning out the under stair cupboard in the garage. He left the clutter for me to deal with but that is fine by me. At least the sorting was done and I would prefer to double check that he didn’t get too ruthless. It wouldn’t be the first time that he decluttered something that I still use.

  9. Kate says:

    Colleen…I was more mentioning it as an example of an epidemic in my household (now that I think of it, many of my household cleaners and personal care products actually went to my mom who will use them, so I don’t feel too bad about that). And actually, I don’t want those chemicals on my skin at all at this point. So the face scrub thing is old news. One more recent piece of trash/clutter is a plastic shower curtain that I washed until it became so gross I couldn’t wash it anymore. I replaced it with a cloth one, but haven’t thrown out the plastic one yet. There’s really nothing else that could do besides go into a landfill, right?

  10. Jane says:

    I’ve recently changed my shower curtain after a lot of deliberation and internet research. I eventually decided that instead of the cheap plain plastic one (which was falling to bits in the meantime) I’d go for a textile one (treated so as not to go mouldy – our bathroom has very little heating since the change of boiler). The old crumbling one sat in a bin while I thought about what I could use it for. I couldn’t think of anything and it’s condition was so variable that I eventually bit the bullet and landfilled it. So I’ll be interested in what others have come up with.

    Wet flannels can be microwaved instead of boiling or putting through a whole wash every time to stop them going mouldy/smelling – if you have a microwave – we don’t! Our elderly parents do (important for when they give up cooking) and also tend not to heat the bathroom much (having been brought up without central heating and being more stoical than us).

  11. Lynda says:

    My latest dilemma about not adding to landfill is a sad pile of broken pottery and china. I have looked up ways of recycling it, and every site wants me to start a mosaic. I really don’t have the time or desire to do this. Does anyone have any suggestions about disposal of broken crockery?

  12. Hazel says:

    The only 2 things I can think of for the plastic shower curtain is to use it instead of a plastic bag if something has to be contained before landfilling- I don’t know what though! Rubble if you’re doing DIY? Or at least to keep the boot of your car clean if you’re transporting something muddy/dirty. (My dogs after a walk at the moment would fit this description. I’d also use it when I buy bales of straw because that gets all over the car and drives DH mad…)
    Or if you garden could you use it to cover the compost heap to keep it warm or to cover the soil to warm it before sowing veg seeds.

    Can’t think of anything else!

  13. Antonio Pachowko says:

    @Lynda: Lynda broken pottery and china can be recycled at your local Household Waste Recycle Centre as it can be classed as Rubble. Most council have containers I have even seen a toilet in one.

    Shower curtains could be used as a dust sheet or possible a painting sheet over the floor.

  14. Kate says:

    True! Maybe I’ll fold it and put it with our painting stuff instead. Thanks for the suggestion.

  15. Mrs Green says:

    @Julie Day: That’s pretty good. Julie – some things have to be landfilled; like the negatives I found last year when decluttering!

    @Kate: Hi Kate, you might find some answers to your half used toiletries on this thread: I think it’s great that you now have the awareness and desire to be more responsible – that’s to be celebrated, and the things you can’t do, you just can’t do. Don’t beat yourself up about it, be kind to yourself for the things you ARE able to do 😉
    Oh, I’ve been known to use old toiletries to clean things like the sink 😉

    @Sooz: Sooz, sometimes we have to let things go and move on. I’m in the same boat – I’m doing a massive declutter this year and I know I will find things that cannot be disposed of responsibly. At least now you won’t be buying more things to replace it and that’s fantastic!

    @Jo: Jo, your comment was totally in keeping – thank you! You worded it perfectly – remembering to celebrate our achievements is a big part of motivation.

    @Colleen ( Great that you worked with your husband last week Colleen. I usually do most of the decluttering, but Mr G hovers around afterwards going through things to make sure I’m not throwing anything away that he ‘needs’

    @Jane: Thanks for the tip about microwaving flannels – we don’t have a microwave either, but it’s a great idea for those who do. I’ve heard you can sterilise kitchen scourers too; is that right?

    @Lynda: A mosaic LOL! Do you garden? We use that sort of thing as drainage material in the bottom of containers…

    @Hazel: Fan ideas for the old shower curtain Hazel – I’ll be commissioning you for a guest post 😉

  16. Lobma says:

    Mrs Green

    Here is a BBC news report on those cardboard milk bottles. Hope everyone buys them from their supermarket.

  17. Jane says:

    @Lynda: My broken pie dishes (don’t ask) are now in the bottom of a couple of big pots planted with daffodils.

  18. Jane says:

    @Lobma: New innovations are always interesting. Certainly bulky plastics are a problem for a lot of people to deal with – but the plastic ones are easy to squash and people don’t. I top up with the plastic ones which are available from the supermarket or corner shop. The glass ones that the milkman delivers to me are even better though – they get reused up to 10 times BEFORE being recycled AND the empties are collected daily from the doorstep! The service is now changing to suit changed times and you can order other things and change your order until up to 9pm the night before.

  19. Cate B says:

    @Kate: Kate, once you have used up old bits of cosmetics you can drop the containers off at your local Origins branch (often found in department stores). Our Bath branch is collecting old make-up/cosmetic packaging that can’t be recycled and they give donors a sample of something from their range to say thanks!

  20. pamela says:

    @Kate: Hi Kate I’m just popping in to comment as I had a very similar scenario recently and shared this on on 1st jan. Coleen’s reply might interest you. I certainly found it helpful:) here’s the link

  21. Lynda says:

    @Antonio Pachowko: Thank you! We have a pile of stuff – everything from Aga burners to a large A level “Telly tubby” project- all to go to the tip. I will start a broken pottery box to add to the collection!

  22. Poppy says:

    Taking some previously loved ornaments to the local Resource Centre in a bit. After decorating last year, I couldn’t find them a new home here, so hopefully the Resource Centre will be able to make a little bit of money on them. Also taking 2 tape measures with me. Why on earth did I need 4 and why can I not let go of the spare? Mmm…. must try harder I guess, but I know that if I’m down to one, that one will go walkies. It needs a friend 🙂

  23. Mrs Green says:

    @Lobma: it’s a great article John – thank you!

    @Poppy: I call the ‘hang on to a spare’ – poverty mentality. It really gets to Mr Green, but it does help him release things a bit. It’s kind of fear based isn’t it? We think if we only have one we’ll lose it? I wonder why we feel like that. Mmmm, getting into the deep psychology of life now LOL!

Leave a Reply