Decluttering your home the zero waste way

Filed in Blog by on July 27, 2015 11 Comments
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decluttered-home the zero waste wayIf the activity on Twitter is anything to go by, many of us are on a decluttering mission this summer.

Those long sunny days make you want to get your home in order before the autumn arrives.

Even Mr Green, aka my hoarding husband, is on a mission to declutter his garage before September approaches!

But how do you get rid of the things you no longer want without creating loads of landfill waste?

And how do you start when you’re a star procrastinator?

Last year I gathered the opinions of our Zero Waste community to see what their methods were – you can find everything from swallowing the frog, to baby steps to chucking it all outside – in this best decluttering tips post.

Once your mind is in the right place. here are some tips to get you decluttering like the zero hero I know you are!


Over on Facebook we’ve been discussing clothes. What is it that makes us hang onto things we no longer wear?

Well I don’t know the answer to that, but I do know how you can get rid of clothes without putting them in landfill.

Did you know over 1 million tonnes of textiles are thrown away every year?

As a girl who loves a charity shop bargain, that seems such a waste to me!

Charity shops will happily take wearable items from you, and even if your clothes is past its best, you can bag them separately and leave them for the ‘rag man’.

Find your local charity shop here.


The summer holidays is a great time to get your kids decluttering their bedrooms.

Over on Simply Being Mum, Jo has got her children on board with trying to make money from the items they no longer want. She’s set a family target of raising £600 this holiday.

While toys don’t hold that much second hand value, carting them off to a car boot sale is a great way to let your kids earn some pocket money for that new ‘must have’ purchase.

Check out car boot junction to see what’s happening near you and keep an eye on adverts in local free newspapers.

Home office

Even if you don’t run your own business, chances are you’ve got a home office of some description.

And they can create a lot of waste.

From printer cartridges to paper to disposable pens, there’s an awful lot of stuff that can end up landfilled.

One of my procrastination jobs is filing and shredding paper – I have mountains of the stuff all waiting to be dealt with.

If you’re faced with a similar monster, companies like Datashredders offer domestic shredding services – yipee!

And it’s not just for paper; they can shred their way through credit cards and even hard drives too.  So now there’s no excuse.

Junk drawer

Come on, admit it – somewhere in the house you have a ‘junk drawer’.

Mine is in the kitchen where I’ll find rubber bands picked up from the postman, plastic corks, pens that no longer work, tools that haven’t been put away, broken bits of plastic toys and all sorts of orphan things that don’t really have a home.

Well you might not be able to recycle your broken toys, but remember one man’s trash can become another’s treasure.

I’ve rehomed numerous things from my ‘junk drawer’ in the past by using services like Freecycle and Freegle including old cutlery, a posh grater that seemed like a good idea at the time and odd bits of lego.


Second in command to clothes for ‘difficult things to get rid of’ is books.

Thankfully I’ve found a couple of great ‘feel good’ services that enable me to release books with a bit more ease.

If you read novels you can donate them to a local hospital or hospice where someone will appreciate a distraction from the treatments they are receiving.

Bookcrossing is a fantastic idea where you pay it forward by setting your books free – you deliberately leave them on a cafe table, in a phonebox or on a bus seat for someone else to pick up and enjoy!

What about you – how do you keep your home clutter free without creating landfill waste?

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 (11)

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  1. thingio says:

    Good tips! Personally, I LOVE Bookcrossing, and I always end up with people offering to send me more books than I got rid of previously. For free, that is. Right now, my boyfriend and me try to think about a good way to get rid of some DVDs we no longer watch. Any ideas? We’d love to swap them for other DVDs (much like Bookcrossing) but haven’t found a platform yet…

    • Mrs Green says:

      Wouldn’t it be fantastic to have a platform for DVDs like there is for bookcrossing – maybe that could be your next project! Glad to hear bookcrossing works well for you 🙂

  2. i give away a LOT to my local thrift shop, and post a lot on freecycle. It’s amazing what people will take!

    • Mrs Green says:

      Thanks for sharing, Zoe. So many people report bad experiences with Freecycle, but mine have been nothing but good! Glad it works for you too 🙂

  3. Christine says:

    I regret teaching my children to read – they have massive libraries of their own which are falling off bookshelves. Mind you, I do borrow and return them. But if you have a surplus book that is in good condition it may be that you can donate it to your local library if it’s something that they don’t have many copies of but which could be very popular.

    • Mrs Green says:

      Our library is now community run, rather than council owned, so all contributions are most welcome. It’s great for me as I often purge my bookshelves.

  4. Christine says:

    Disposing of paper depends on what you have on it. But if it’s plain and non glossy it’s ideal for the compost heap ripped up and crumpled up and placed in layers amongst the green stuff to stop your compost getting too damp. It also works as what is called a brown item which is essential to help the heap rot down. Shredded paper is also fine on the compost heap but it’s not so effective as if it is ripped and crumpled. There speaks experience. If you have a mountain of paper mind, you need a mountain of other rubbish to make your heap she says laughing.

    • Mrs Green says:

      THanks for sharing your expertise, Christine. It’s a bit like lighting a fire then – crumpled paper works best to allow the oxygen to flow.

  5. Lisette says:

    Here in the Netherlands we have special containers where you can put in old torn and worn clothes/rags etc. Most textiles can be recycled. Als in H&M stores you can hand in old unwanted clohes for recycling and get a discount for it.

  6. Clarissa says:

    Some really handy tips! Another way you could probably consider decluttering is to check your fridges and kitchen area and minimise food wastage! 🙂

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