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Decluttering Your Space: Less is More Sustainable

POSTED UNDER Home & Garden

At a certain point, each and every one of us comes to the realization that we have much more stuff than we need. Usually, we realize this during one of life’s most stressful experiences: moving. We find things we’ve held on to for reasons we no longer remember. We find duplicate items. We even find unopened items we still have yet to use.

Sentimentality and the “I will eventually need this” fear exists in all of us – and these rationales are valid. But we also need to look at this from a bigger picture. Americans on average now have three times the space they did 50 years ago and we still run out of it.

This excess of things and clutter has even lead to new, lucrative industries. Storage units, for instance, are filled with clutter that can no longer fit in our homes. Professional organizers are paid handsomely to come into our homes and declutter for us.

It seems the general thinking for anything these days is to think bigger. In the case of our clutter and organization, the best tactic should be to think smaller. Doing this will save money, ease stress and reduce our environmental footprint.

Generally, the most cluttered spaces in a home are closets, offices, kitchens and of course, garages and storage space. When looking to declutter and reorganize, tackle these areas first. And be sure to finish organizing one area before you start another.

When tackling clutter, a tried and true quote from William Morris becomes a very effective strategy: “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”

  1. The first step is to stop extraneous home shopping. Don’t buy items or decorations because of pure want. Think strategically about where this item would go in your home and what purpose it would serve.
  2. Once shopping is under control, you must be ruthless with your clutter. Get rid of any superfluous or redundant items. Donate, recycle or repurpose anything you can. Be especially conscious of hazardous materials and electronic waste. Earth 911 can help find a recycle center near you for nearly all items. A good rule of thumb for successful decluttering is to leave one shelf empty because you can. We think we need to utilize every square foot of our home – we don’t.
  3. Digitize as much as you can, especially with papers or books that can exist online. Books and bills use up a lot of paper and space for something that effectively exists digitally. When buying organizers, make sustainable purchases – either items that are repurposed or new items that are recyclable or made from post-consumer materials. Stackable containers save even more space.

Once we reduce our clutter and organize our space, it becomes clear there is such a thing as having the “right amount” of stuff. This amount differs for everyone, but living the “less is more” mentality will lead to a smaller environmental footprint, smaller bills and much less stress.