House clutter. It is a first world problem that is reaching epic proportions and my household is certainly not immune. I thought this topic particularly fitting for the holiday season; a time where we buy, give and receive yet more stuff.
I find the advertising for the holidays to be a bit of a paradox – we are all supposed to buy and give the perfect gift (which has to be stored somewhere in our gift recipient’s home) but those homes are also supposed to be clutter-free and elegantly decorated. How is one supposed to have this magical clutterless house with such an influx of items every year? What’s the outflow to match the inflow?
There is no lack of resources to help out those of us who are overwhelmed by our stuff. I have read blogs, downloaded an app and read the best-selling books by Japanese author Marie Kondo: The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up and Spark Joy. (Which I highly recommend by the way).
The answer? Most of the resources simply help you decide what to throw away. Indeed I have friends with clutter-free homes, but I know darn well that the majority of what goes – goes in the trash. Which doesn’t sit well with me. So what’s an eco-conscious girl to do?
Recently we did a major cleanup of our home before showing it to potential buyers. It involved a lot of decluttering. Here’s how we accomplished it – zero waste style.
- Donations: I set aside a big cardboard box to put donatable stuff in. We gave away clothing, household items, kids toys and a few sporting goods. Certain items like extra back packs, supplies from the dentist, small shampoos etc. went to a homeless shelter.
- Recycling: We subdivided our recyclables depending on where they needed to go
- Paper and packaging went in our blue cart. Lots and lots of paper…
- We are fortunate enough to live in Saskatoon, where London Drugs takes back a number of unusual items for recycling. We cleared out some old light bulbs, CD’s, Styrofoam packing and plastic film.
- Any metal items were put together to go to a scrap metal yard.
- Reorganization: We lost some tool storage when we replaced our water heater several years ago. A new small shelving unit tucked away in the furnace room replaces that storage capacity so we can have a place for tools in the house again, that is not the pantry!
It was also incredibly helpful to have a deadline to accomplish the decluttering. We had a day and time where we needed to be out of the house, and it had to be tidy and clean. Most of us don’t make that cut-off point for ourselves.
Now, we are working towards a move to an acreage. I thoroughly look forward to donating and giving away as much as possible when we eventually pack for that move. Paramount in the time between now and then is solidifying my own ability to politely decline things that I know will just be clutter in our home.
The experience has definitely left me feeling like less is more, and that the first R of Reduce is as important as ever. What about you, do you have a tough time letting things go? A great way to let loved ones know you don’t want more stuff? Join the conversation below.