Waste Reduction: How Low Can You Go? -- Decluttering Sustainably

Waste Reduction: How Low Can You Go? -- Decluttering Sustainably

I'm moving this month, so I’m in the middle of decluttering. I want to only move things I genuinely want into my new home.

In an effort to avoid the landfill, I’ve been going slowly and trying to find a new home for most things.

My main advice: Start early. Start early. Start early. Unfortunately, there’s no way to sugarcoat the fact that decluttering sustainably takes more time than tossing everything out.

I like to tackle one room at a time, one drawer or shelf at a time and place items I don’t want anymore in one of three piles: reuse, recycle or garbage. At the end of each day, I toss the items destined for the garbage and leave the other two piles until I’m finished all rooms.

Next, I start sorting the reuse pile based on where the items can go - thrift shop, community center, posted to fb marketplace, local buy nothing page, etc.

Depending on the size of your home and the amount of things you’re getting rid of, you might want to periodically sort and drop off the items in the reuse and recycle piles. Do what works for you.

It is sometimes difficult to figure out where to take things. I like to look at the wish lists from the local shelter, community centre or food bank to see if I have anything they are asking for. Then, I use the Waste Reduction Hub under the Pass it On tab. I posting any remaining items to sell or give away. In Saskatoon, Facebook Marketplace and the Facebook group Saskatoon Freecycle are the most commonly used web pages. VarageSale is quite popular in Regina. What is used in your area? If you don’t know, try searching for buy nothing or buy and sell groups on Facebook or try using Kijiji, one of the few resale websites that doesn’t need a Facebook account.

If you don't have time to post each item individually, you can take things to a thrift store. Just make sure that what you’re dropping off are things they want and are in good condition. Personally, I prefer posting items individually in hopes of finding them a home. I worry about items dropped off at thrift stores never finding a new home and ending up in the landfill.

Another option, if you don't have time to resell all your items individually, is HYON. You are responsible for uploading images of each item you want to sell but they handle the posting, marketing, negotiating, payment and pick-up!

The reality of decluttering sustainably is that my place is currently full of piles destined for different people and organizations. I do like the visual of all the things that I don’t actually need. It’s a great reminder to keep shopping to a minimum. I am hopeful that the memories of the labour-intensive process will provide incentive to avoid purchasing unnecessary things in the future!

And we come back to the golden rules of waste reduction: Buy less, buy mindfully and use what you have. If you focus on those, you might never have to do a huge decluttering ever again! (One can dream.)