Decluttering the zero waste way

Filed in Blog by on January 10, 2011 10 Comments
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Decluttering the zero waste way

Decluttering the zero waste way

Over on 365lessthings, Colleen has been cracking the decluttering whip. I like a bit of accountability; it keeps me, erm, accountable and I’ve been joining in with her mini missions for the beginning of this year.

Good (new year) intentions and all that.

If you’ve done any serious decluttering yourself, you’ll know they can create a lot of waste, but with a little forward planning and a bit of time, it is possible to rid yourself of most things by recycling, donating to charity shops, selling or giving them away.

Use it up!

On 1st Jan we had to find something that could be used up but had been hanging about in our homes for too long. I tried it on by baking something chocolatey with the remains of some cocoa powder, but Colleen told me it didn’t count if I was going to replace it. After sulking for a bit I resorted to using up some old paper notebooks. I have several spiral bound notebooks with about 10 pages in each. Being a stationery tart I love new books, pens and glittery things but I tamed my inner PA and reached for the old notebooks instead. I now have one in my bag for shopping lists and one next to the computer for my ‘to do’ list.

Later in the week I noticed a bath bomb on the shelf sent to us by LUSH. These aren’t something I would normally buy or use, but Little Miss Green was eager to do her bit and jumped into a fizztastic bath of green and blue swirls…

Declutter books

On the second day our mini mission was to declutter 2 books. This was easy and they’re now on eBay, which will hopefully give me some money for my troubles. If you have books to get rid of, check out how to declutter books the zero waste way.

Reusable containers

On Monday we had to sort our Tupperware containers, reunite them with lids and cull the orphans. This tied in perfectly with my personal mission for the first week of January, of deep cleaning my kitchen. As you know, using reusable containers in the deli, fish counter or butchers is a great way to reduce plastic waste packaging. Our plastic containers are now tidied up instead of bring a mountain of precarious plastic that lands on your head when you open the cupboard.

Get rid of clutter

Tuesday’s mission was to visit one of the scary storage areas in our home and release something we rarely use. In my kitchen junk drawer were a family of cookie cutters. Now cookie cutters are as exciting to me as stationery. I love the things – all those pretty shapes and celebratory ideas for using them. The truth is; rather like a washing machine with 40 programmes, I have 3 favourites – two different sized round ones and, being the old romantic fool I am, I use a heart shaped one as well. The angels, leaves and butterflies all look gorgeous, but the reality is bits of pastry get stuck in the corners and the finished biscuits look like abstract designs; so off to the charity shop they went.

Recycle wrapping paper

On Wednesday we had to sort through our card and wrapping paper stash and recycle anything we wouldn’t use. For me this was straight forward as I reuse things and indulge in a little furoshiki, so nothing was released.

Charity donations

Thursday we were put through our paces in order to declutter an ‘I might need it one day’ item. You know the ones? Mr Green has an entire garage full of them, which, if you’ve been following the blog for some time, will know is the bane of my life. Off to the kitchen again and I’ve tentatively put a glass pyrex dish into the charity box. I have two I use and have had another on standby in case one gets broken. Not exactly a positive attitude. Now it’s gone to a new home and I’ll just have to be careful I don’t drop anything …

Recycling clothes

Finally, Colleen had us rummaging around in our wardrobes to get rid of an item we didn’t use last season. I kinda cheated by putting some knickers with the elastic showing into the textiles bag, but then I felt guilty so got rid of a turquoise vest – one of three I’m ashamed to say.  I’m actually in the midst of attempting to create a capsule wardrobe, so it was a good starting point for me. Remember, over 1 million tonnes of textiles get put into landfill every year, so if you’re downsizing your wardrobe, find out 8 ways to recycle clothes and textiles.

Recycling paper

And if that wasn’t enough; Colleen gave us a bonus mission to begin our week – we had to part with something that was hard to do. Geesh; break us in gently why don’t you!
Little Miss Green is a bit of an artist. She loves nothing more than drawing things and colouring them in; people, fairies and animals are her favourites. I’m not one for the latest offering on my ‘fridge or walls, so we have boxes of her art in the attic. Mr Green finds it impossible to get rid of these, but Little miss green has a website of her own and once a year, (so the theory goes) we scan and upload her drawings then we can recycle the ‘pieces of paper’.
The reality is we scan the drawings then Mr Green puts the real drawings back into boxes in the attic! So we’re going to see if we can get past this one and actually get rid of the paper while keeping the art. Even I admit this is a difficult one to do.

If you are on a decluttering mission this year, why not join in with Colleen?

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. Kelly says:

    What a great idea about the kids drawings website!!!! My house is also full of pictures the boys do and there is at least one drawing each off them a day minimum. Great de-cluttering ideas as well 😀

  2. Diz says:

    Don’t forget the reuse sites like Freegle for offering your unwanted goodies, The bonus is that the recipients come and take the stuff away themselves, useful for large or odd items the charity shops wont take. It’s also a useful place for finding odds and ends, so you don’t need to keep anything ‘just in case’. Release it to someone else, and look for a replacement if it ever happens you end up needing it again!

  3. Jen says:

    Have you come across our Rebound Books before? Now you can declutter your books and get your stationary fix in one fell swoop. Send us your old book and we will convert it into a wonderful journal, notebook or diary – full of lovely quality reclaimed paper and a selection of the original pages. Have a look at our site – they make a great gift, too.

  4. Julie Day says:

    I have been on a declutter mission too. I’ve recycled lots of paper and magazines, saved lots of paper for scrap to print on, put books and clothes aside for the charity shop, put some clothes in to a textile bank, and on Sunday managed to recycle my Christmas cards at Sainsbury’s. i am still decluttering as have one more set of magazines to go through to see if I want them all.

  5. Raffaella says:

    Hey, Mrs Green. Just read the article on the Italian newspapers too. I’m glad your story got positive comments.

    I noticed that in my country, which is one of the less “green” in Europe, there is a polarization re. ecology: people who strongly feel a need for change and people who are against even the slightest change. The first ones demand cleaner energy, want to recycle more and waste less, despite the indifference of the government towards these issues and regardless of what others do; the second ones can’t even be bothered to recycle or use their own shoppers for groceries. Example: plastic bags have just been banned and I read and heard angry comments about this “imposition” and things like “where will we put our groceries?!” (D’oh! really.)

    I guess these lifestyles are seen as too extreme, most people are hostile to new ideas and maybe feel guilty when confronted with this kind of efficiency. As for me, I admire them and if I can at least get a bit inspired in my own life I’ll feel great.

  6. Alyson says:

    My daughter is decorating her bedroom. Her first time. So, a good opportunity to declutter. Unfortunately, its been put on hold. She’s gone down with ‘flu! I can’t wait until she’s better, my son hasn’t been able to shut his door for almost a week due to a big chair there and the landing looking like an obstacle course.

  7. Naomi Sandoval says:

    Good info. Keep talking. Maybe I will get “unstuck” and take some action.

  8. Mrs Green says:

    @Kelly: Thanks Kelly and thank you for your comment. Yes, a website is a way to ditch the piles of paper!

    @Diz: Thanks Diz, Freegle is a fab idea and has enabled me to rehome a lot of things in the past.

    @Jen: Thanks Jen, what an interesting project. What happens to the original paper that is inside the books which are donated to you?

    @Julie Day: Great news, Julie – keep up the great work, I’ll be updating again next week!

    @Raffaella: Welcome Raffaella and thank you for taking time to comment. I think the same is true of our country too. Many people do not want fortnightly rubbish collections as they feel a weekly collection is their ‘birth right’. Whereas others embrace the change towards more sustainable living…

    @Alyson: Hope your daughter has recovered now and your house is back in order!

    @Naomi Sandoval: Check back next week; I’ll be talking again!

  9. Jo says:

    HI Mrs Green,

    Came here from 365lessthings and really enjoyed your write up. I’m very interested in the furoshiki so thank you for the link. I’ve been keeping clothing with interesting patterns for several years now, intending to make bags, but it’s not happening so far, so I think I’ll read up a bit more on the fabric squares instead. Lovely blog – I’ll be back to read more.

  10. Mrs Green says:

    @Jo: Hi Jo, welcome to the site and thanks for taking the time to comment. Good luck with the furoshiki; it’s a lot of fun, we’ve made handbags and rabbits as our favourite items so far 😉

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