Decluttering without landfill – week 6

Filed in Blog by on February 14, 2011 8 Comments
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decluttering without landfill waste

decluttering without landfill waste

Good morning! How is your decluttering mission coming along?

Each weekend over on 365lessthings, Colleen sets us missions for the week. My own addition is that MY decluttering has to be done without creating landfill waste – I’m recycling or reusing as much as I can.

Now Colleen is a delicate mix of task master and cheering committee, so if you need any help, she comes highly recommended from me!

Preventing food waste

On Monday we had to tidy our food cupboards. Colleen suggested that if we had a pantry of open packets of food and a cupboard full of unused tupperware containers we should put the food into the containers and tidy our space. I have to admit I don’t have excess reusable plastic containers, I have just the right amount. However I DO have lots of annoying ‘ends of packets’ of food. These will be used up over the next few months and I’ll try not to buy excess again. That’s not easy for me because I tend to buy non perishable items on offer and store it up or sometimes I buy out of habit.

Make Up

On Tuesday we had to go through our make up and get rid of items we would never use. Again I’m not one for excess, I only buy what I will use. As most make up comes in small plastic containers (which will have to be returned to manufacture or landfilled) I’m especially careful about what I buy. In addition I buy organic or chemical free, which can be quite pricey, so I make sensible purchases and just buy what I ‘need’.

The ‘junk drawer’

On Wednesday we headed to the kitchen to sort our junk drawer. Even though I did a big sort and tidy of my kitchen at the beginning of January, I decided to go through the junk drawer again. Mr Green has the extremely annoying habit of opening a bottle of wine or can of beer and then leaving the cork or lid IN THE DRAWER! (the bottle and wine opener are kept in this drawer). I found no less than 3 wine corks in there <sigh>. Find out 11 ways to reuse and recycle wine corks.

Now Colleen wants us to take the junk drawer situation further and to question “Why do we need a junk drawer anyway?”. Surely all the things we put in there have a home elsewhere but we are just to lazy to put them away properly. Well, mine is part junk, part useful as it does contain all my kitchen tools like pastry cutters, tongs and cheese grater…

The Black Hole

Otherwise known as Flylady’s ‘hotspots’ these are the areas in our home that attract everything that comes into your house and once there is difficult, if not impossible, to re-home. Ours tends to be in the porch where we put things we bring in from outdoors, the end of the kitchen work surface where the post gets put (and often left and undealt with) and the bottom stair where we put piles of things that need taking upstairs, but instead we all walk past them for a week.

The only way around this is to break the habit. Colleen advises placing each person’s junk in the middle of their bed so they get the message LOL! See what I mean about a taskmaster?

Shoe care

On Friday we had to go through our shoe care kit. This is Mr Green’s domain and I’m proud to say all he has are two brushes and three tins of polish in there. Nothing to get rid of and no nasties coming up in the future apart from one scuff coat which is in a plastic bottle and will probably need landfilling… (Although the frequency with which shoes get cleaned I’ll probably be giving that to my grandkids to use on their first day of school).

Filing cabinet

Saturday was one of my favourite missions; I find sorting out paper work very therapeutic and love to see my filing cabinet in order. Because it’s the area I take sole care of, I can make it as neat as I like and I know nobody will mess it up (yeah, anal, right?!) Again, I gave mine a good tidy at the beginning of the year (I do this in June and January) but I had a big pile of bank statements to shred. These are now done and the bag of shredded paper is waiting to be recycled with the cardboard at our household recycling centre. Discover 7 ways to recycle shredded paper.

Bags of bags

On Sunday we had to weed out the handbags we never use. Nothing for me – I have one that I use every day and no spares! I’m all for buying quality when it comes to bags…

Tell me, how are you getting on?

Julie has been busy decluttering everything from clothes to manuals to her computer desk.
Ben has the right idea by trying to PREVENT clutter in the first place, but he does has a ‘reuse’ box for the things that need dispatching to the charity shop.
Jo has been using up aspirational clutter by joining craft groups to use up supplies AND she’s been saving some fabric scraps ready for furoshiki.
Kate has been figuring out how to recycle half used toiletries.
Sooz is finally ditching some childhood clutter and has accepted that sometimes we have junk that has no other home than the landfill.
Jane has been weighing up her options about reusing an old shower curtain.
Lynda has been having a dilemma about recycling or reusing broken pottery.
Poppy is figuring out how to release duplicate objects such as tape measures (2 down, 2 to go isn’t it Poppy?), but she has been showing that slow and steady wins the race; every day she tries to put one item into a charity bag.
Denise has been figuring out what to do with old photographs.
Kelly has been sorting out her kids artwork.
Alyson has been waiting for her daughter to get better so they could declutter and decorate her bedroom together. How did you get on Alison?
Meanwhile, Naomi was still procrastinating last time she posted – how are you getting on Naomi? Have you made a start yet?
Practical Parsimony has been decluttering her porch. It’s looking much better and a friend has benefited from a stash of magazines for her clients to flick through.
Chris confessed the need to get rid of 3 extra laptop bags – who else can claim 1 laptop, but 4 bags to keep it in!
Lesley had a brilliant week and reminded us all that part of decluttering was actually to get everything OUT of the house and to the charity / recycling centre.

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 (8)

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  1. Julie Day says:

    I’m still getting rid of clothes and think I have got rid of all what I want to. A pair of slippers, jogging bottoms and 2 zip cardigains went to the textile bank yesterday. All the clothes I have now are what I wear everyday or for special occassions. Still have to sort out a cupboard drawer and my filing tray.

  2. CarSue says:

    We had a lovely time over the weekend decluttering some hobby supplies. The Mr. and I maintain 7 aquariums in the house, and it seems like we had a never-ending pile of plastic bottles of additives and supplements. To boot, the sea salt mix for our marine aquariums is bought in 5 gallon plastic pails, and while it was a joy at first to have extra buckets around the house (once the salt is used and they’re empty), I finally put my foot down and told him there was no reason whatsoever that we would need 15 extra buckets! So we used 3 of them to make an indoor vermicomposting bin for the garage, and then posted the others in lots of 3 on Freecycle. We also offered up over 2 dozen half-used bottles of chemicals and the whatnot which we no longer needed. Lo and behold, we have a whole free corner in the basement where this had all been stacked up! It was wonderful.

  3. Karen says:

    My black hole is the hall table. I actually haven’t seen the table top for a few months now, the childrens school artwork was providing full coverage! Today I blitzed it, I filed the keepers in a large art case we had, I put some of the best ones up on the playroom wall and recycled quite a lot! I found some Burts Bees Hand Salve that I thought was lost ages ago – result! I now have only the wireless hub box thingy, the house phone, a family of pine cones and 1 photo frame on there – it looks lovely :o)

  4. Alyson says:

    Ha ha ha. The bedroom did get decorated and all the junk got put back in a corner of the room. The shelf fell of the wall and fell on the junk, so, no breakages. It’s still waiting to be put back. I don’t think she’ll be in a hurry to redecorate. I am keeping an eye out in charity shops for replacement curtains. The ones she has do not go with the new colour. Meanwhile. I’ve decided to declutter my kitchen. I don’t think I have junk drawers, I think I have a junk kitchen. It’s amazing how much stuff can get in there. The problem is, I think I’m just moving the stuff around to a new part of the kitchen. Two weeks ago, I cleared the worktop under the boiler. Fine. Last week, I cleared out the welsh dresser. Some stuff got put away, properly and the rest was piled up on the worktop under the boiler. Yesterday, I cleared a corner where the microwave is. Rearranged the little area, (but I don’t think I like it, we’ll see how it goes),got rid of some stuff, ( found a load of disposable aprons? squashed into a tub. I dread to think how many years I’ ve them)and the rest is on the worktop under the boiler and the kitchen table.I don’t declutter, I move it. At least the piles are neat…

  5. Chris says:

    The house is all tidied up ready for rental. As we sat in our strangely large and empty lounge last night my husband said ‘ we should have done this years ago’. Just the kitchen to sort and then our very large black hole – the loft. Decluttering has been great. The house is easier to clean and my asthma has improved as we have removed all the stuff just gathering dust

  6. Mrs Green says:

    @Julie Day: Great news on the clothes Julie – I have just the challenge for you coming up in a couple of weeks 😉

    @CarSue: What a wonderful weekend, CarSue – it feels so good to reclaim space and order. The tanks sound lovely. I’ve been contemplating setting up one of mine again…

    @Karen: Sounds fantastic Karen – well done you! I love it when we find lost items when decluttering; it’s a fabulous side effect!

    @Alyson: Sounds like you have made a lot of progress Alyson. Like you, I find myself simply moving stuff from one area to another and it infuriates me. This year I’m determined to really get on top of things and either make homes for items or ditch them.

    @Chris: Excellent story and a great point about how we often love our homes more just before we leave them. I wonder what that says about is. Wonderful about your asthma too; I’ve got rid of most of the downstairs carpet and my itchy eyes have improved no end…

  7. Lobma says:

    I’ve just read this piece in today’s Guardian. It filled me with anger, Please read it please.

    And here’s is my letter to Tesco about it. Anyone else want to write to therm too. Here’s their e mail address:
    [email protected]

    My blog,as to why Supermarkets are bad places to shop:

    Love Lobma

    After reading the article in today’s Guardian and Telegraph about how one of your store managers contacted the police because a woman took some food out of one of your bins. I am appalled

    That you can pursue, threaten and use the police as enforcers to stop people taking and eating food that would other wise rot is repulsive and is yet one more reason for people to keep well away from shopping at any of your outlets Just so you can continue to make your ill gotten massive profits. Greed is what rules you, but you will never be able to escape the effects of your actions, in the long term.

    That the police could go to the woman’s home, threaten to batter her door down if she didn’t open it, then handcuff and arrest her is beyond belief. What sort of state are we living in now?

    Bankers can take home millions of pounds in bonuses yet people are arrested for taking food that is going to waste. I don’t any longer wish to be apart of such a society

    You are destroying local economises by pushing local traders out of business, you sell revolting, chemical ridden food like substances and meat that is produced by keeping animals in barbaric conditions.

    Some follow up comments for you to mull over, to show how of us find your tactics abhorrent
    “Supermarkets don’t like people taking food they cannot sell because it means fewer paying customers.
    My wife’s 78-year old uncle has been banned from Tesco in Purley near Croydon for precisely this “crime.” He has been threatened with arrest and has now stopped doing it. He did not eat the food himself, but he gave it away to several hard-up people he knows locally. It is an absolute disgrace that supermarkets can get away with this.”

    “The only appearances of altruism by supermarkets are aimed at improving PR and thus increasing revenue.”
    “So let me get this right, a store throws away a load of food ready for landfill a woman helps herself to that food and gets arrested and has to go to court …… What a bonkers country we live in today”

    “We are absolutely ruled by a legal system that puts protection of property above any other moral imperative. So stuff homelessness, starvation, poverty, waste, global warming – what’s important is that Tesco gets to discard tens of thousands of tons of its property and nobody can do anything about it?”

  8. Mrs Green says:

    @Lobma: That is senseless and pure greed isn’t it? Well done you for writing John; I hope this gets thrown out of court and you get a decent response from Tesco.

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