Four Ways to Declutter Your Home – the Sustainable Way

Filed in Blog by on June 22, 2021 1 Comment
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decluttering zero wasteThere’s no getting away from the fact that the last 18 months have been bizarre. And stress levels have increased with all the uncertainty we’ve been facing.

Whether you’ve been ill yourself, lost loved ones, faced financial difficulties or found working from home whilst homeschooling your children almost impossible to juggle, I very much hope you have found a new sense of resilience and inner strength.

When I’m not busy trying to save the world, I work as a therapist, teaching people how to reduce stress, anxiety and overwhelm. And one of the common themes at the heart of much of our stress is a feeling that we can’t control things.

We all feel much happier when we’re in control!

But when you’re fighting an invisible enemy like a pandemic, when shelves in supermarkets are empty and when you can no longer get a reassuring smile from a stranger you feel anything BUT control.

A simple life hack then, is to look for any area in your life where you can retain a sense of control. And for us this has been reorganising our home to make space in the garage for a gym. Not only has this forced us to finally take a good look at the groaning masses of accumulated ‘stuff’ from recent parent bereavements in the garage to make some usable space, but it meant we could take better care of our health too.

Old furniture, clothing, electrical items and  bric-a-brac were taking up valuable space. Taking all this to the local landfill centre was not an option – they were closed for months of end. Offering on Freecycle was a no-no due to restrictions on ‘non-essential travel’. And charity shops had shut their doors. So yes, we had to hang onto things, but with ‘normality’ resuming, we’re now in a position to find ways to dispose of these items in an environmentally sustainable way and help other people to benefit from the process.

Here’s how we’re disposing of things at Chez Green:

Clothes

The clothes we found belonged to parents, so aren’t going on a catwalk any time soon! I usually sell things on eBay, but these will go to a charity shop or bring bank; whichever I can get to first. [Find your local charity shop here]. I find it staggering that in the UK around 336,000 tonnes of our unwanted clothing gets thrown away every year. Thrown away! It seems such a waste when they can be recycled so easily.

Some councils collect textiles from kerbside. If that doesn’t apply to you, you’ll find clothing banks in supermarket car parks or local council car parks. And if you have a large quantity of clothing (such as from a bereavement), some of the larger charity shops offer a free collection service from your home.

And don’t worry if items are way past their best. Items put into a textiles bank are graded according to quality, and anything not suitable for wearing can be recycled and made into new items, such as padding for chairs and car seats, cleaning cloths and industrial blankets.

Furniture

Much of the furniture we had accumulated was quite large and bulky, although very usable. Once restrictions were lifted we got busy on Freecycle, offering items for collection. Gifting economy sites are a fantastic way to keep items that may not be valuable money-wise, but still have good life in them, out of landfill.

It’s a lovely way to get to know local people too. We also put items on our local Facebook noticeboard; again it’s a nice way to give something to your local community and make new friends. I love being able to help out people who are setting up a new home and might not have much money. I remember many a time of putting a throw over a cardboard box and calling it a ‘table’ when I moved into my first home!

If you’re looking for more ideas, check out Love Junk, where you’ll find more ways to ensure your old furniture can benefit other people and prevent it being wasted.

Electrical items

Next stop was the electrical items. Fortunately we did not have many of these items. A fairly new toaster, garden vacuum cleaner and a flymo. We simply put them at the end of the drive with a notice ‘FREE and WORKING!’ They were gone the next morning. That works well in our area as we live in a village and most people know one another.

If that wouldn’t work in your neighbourhood, there are still straightforward ways to get rid of electricals. Basically, anything that has a plug on it, uses batteries or needs to be charged up is classed as WEEE and should not be put in landfill. You can take these to your local HWRC or some of the larger branches of charity shops are registered to sell electronic items. You’ll need to check with your local shop.

Bric-a-brac

We had some small pictures, ornaments, jewellery and some silver cutlery. We decided to take these to an auction house once normal service resumed, and see what happened.

After a week we had sold everything and even made a bit of a profit after paying our fees. The nice thing about using an auction site is you can be pretty sure someone will love what you no longer need. Either because it’s just the thing they are looking for, or they find the very thing they are looking to add to a collection, or someone with a beady eye feels they can take what they’ve bought from you and sell it on for a profit. It feels good to reclaim our space and to know that others are happy with our old unwanted items.

All our ‘stuff’ had gone … nothing burned, landfilled or wasted. Hopefully some people benefited from our efforts, and the planet stayed just a little bit cleaner. Plus we got some space back which we’ve used for something useful – a home gym!

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 (1)

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  1. Harper says:

    Hello,
    I completely agree – the last 18 months have been ‘bizarre’.
    There is a deep-felt lack of control most definitely. I agreed that taking charge of our own home space is a sure way to reclaim some control over our own lives.

    Your advice is kind, mindful and well-considered.

    I too feel passionate about the state of waste on the planet (some days anxiety sets in but we must focus on what we can do!).

    A sure way to reclaim our own personal style, organise our home space and reduce household waste is with our own wardrobes.

    A capsule wardrobe is a key way to achieve this!
    When you store off-season clothes and plan your wardrobe to be stocked with only the items you actually need day to day – You feel liberated.
    Plus the magic of loving your outfits more, and empowering your personal style are bonuses.
    A purpose planned capsule wardrobe – saves money, reduces clutter and reduces waste. Big Wins!

    Keep Caring
    Best, Harper

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