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Sustainable Decluttering: 9 Ways to Declutter the Eco-friendly Way (Guide)

Sustainable decluttering - Feature image from Canva - Image is of wooden blocks that spell out 'less mess'

Sustainable decluttering is a way of life, but it can be challenging if you don’t know where or how to start. Especially when you consider that your enthusiasm may have led you to purchase more (and different) things, to replace what you discarded the last time you decluttered!

It doesn’t mean that you need to declutter your home all the time, but there are certain times when you should, like when you feel the clutter is just too much to bear.

More importantly, though, some items and substances that gather in homes may be dangerous for the environment.

These include lead in paint, chemicals in medications and cleaning products, and excess plastic waste that could pollute the environment. These materials disturb the delicate balance that mother nature has, causing animals to suffer, plants to stop growing, and even entire species to become extinct.

Luckily, there are many ways of finding a final resting place for the items you no longer need in the house!

Instead of dumping household clutter down the drain or sending it to a landfill, you can find ways to dispose of things safely and declutter without hurting the environment.

Let’s look at some of these ways:

9 Easy Ways to Declutter Without Harming the Environment

1. Clean One Area at A Time

It may be overwhelming to look at everything that needs to be sorted out, so it may help to tackle one area at a time.

The garage and yard are two areas most people would forget to declutter. But building rubble, old, broken tools, and other items might be lying around there, gathering dust. You can start by sorting these items into those you can recycle, upcycle, and store somewhere else. The rest of the things could be disposed of in a skip bin.

These bins are convenient when doing spring cleaning and decluttering as they are available on your premises and have a larger volume than regular trash cans. Companies supplying these bins would also know how to dispose of items safely. If this sounds like a good option for you, click to read more here.

2. Donate Some Items

As they say ‘one man’s trash is another man’s treasure’. Just because some things have become useless to one person doesn’t mean that others may feel the same. One of the core principles of sustainable decluttering is to generate as little waste as possible. 

Many people can donate items, including clothing, tools, kitchenware, or other household items, but building materials could also be reused. Bricks, sand, rocks, and others could be helpful to someone else.

Sustainable decluttering - Image of clothing folded in a cardboard box labeled 'donation'

Donate items to homeless shelters, women’s and children’s centers, the local soup kitchen, or any other establishment that would benefit from receiving these items. Giving back to the community is one of the best ways to declutter your home while saving the environment.

3. Make Bath and Beauty Products at Home

Every little bottle of lotion, shampoo, soap, or makeup comes individually wrapped and boxed. This could make for a lot of recyclable waste standing in the cupboards.

However, there are many tutorials online to make some of these things at home. They may even be better for our health than the store-bought versions. Natural ingredients that are less harmful to the environment could be used, making even the grey water less hazardous.

You can reuse the same bottle or jar each time to not add new clutter to begin with. Glass or plastic containers are recyclable or reusable when the products are no longer needed, making them the perfect materials for homemade products.

Check out this video by Fairyland Cottage to learn more:

4. Upcycle Items for Use Elsewhere

Instead of getting rid of them, you can use old buckets, wheelbarrows, shovels, and the like as part of your garden display. You can plant new flowers or herbs, repaint the containers, place them in a dull corner, or even make a water feature to calm your nerves. There are many ideas for upcycling used household items that there might be less trash in the environment or fill the dumpsters.

Handmade items would make stunning gifts too! You can upcycle torn fabric into colorful oven mittens, tea towels, or other valuable items for the home. Craft new valuable items for the home or sell them at a market; the earth will thank you for it.

5. Reuse Rather Than Replace

Nowadays, finding items at budget-friendly prices is easy, so replacing them has become easier than reusing them. But next time, think twice before running off to the store. Some things you’re planning to buy could rather be fixed and reused. This way, mother nature will thank you for not contributing to her demise.

Before deeming items unusable, try to see if you can still repair them. For example, you can quickly fix loose hems, broken door handles, and many more, even without a professional. Besides, the feeling of creating something new could be inspiring enough for you to take on more projects and help save the environment at the same time.

6. Sell Items Instead of Discarding Them

Sometimes, big-ticket items can be standing around the house, yard, or garage that no longer serve a purpose to the current owner. Finding a new home for these pre-loved goods could help the owner buy something they would rather have.

Items like lawnmowers, paintings, garden furniture, and other items could sell very well online or at a garage sale. Then, you can send them to their new owners who can use them properly instead of hastily sending them to a landfill.

Sustainable decluttering - image of garage sale with items displayed on the lawn and a home made sign that says "garage sale"

Instead of a straight-out sale, two people can exchange items to minimize the effect on the environment further. New things need materials to make, and trading for a used version spares the expense and use of the new materials.

7. Have an Eco-Friendly Mindset

An eco-friendly mindset would easily allow new ideas and creativity to flow. And you can start this in the household. You can convince your family to be more mindful of how they use, reuse, and dispose of their things.

Changing the mindset of the people in your home would make adults and children alike more aware of the world they’d be leaving behind. You can teach your children to donate their toys, recycle plastic, glass, and other items, and upcycle old items for a new purpose.

When everyone has the same mindset, decluttering could be done quickly, efficiently, and safely for mother nature. Children who learn to declutter with this mindset would carry it into their adult life and restore their surroundings one decision at a time.

8. Practice Mindful Shopping and Let Go

Sometimes, replacing broken or no longer functional items may be unavoidable. Before rushing out to the store, decide which items in the house will be donated or sold to make space for the new items. You can separate items into piles, to sell, keep, donate and discard.  Ideally, there is next to nothing in the discard pile!

Sustainable decluttering - piles of folded clothes with signs that say "donate" and "keep" on them

Sustainable decluttering means replacing items with items that will last a long time and can be re-used over and over again. 

Rotating items in this fashion prevents clutter from forming in the first place and could remove extra items from the house each time there is a trip to the store. It’s a clever way of not hurting the environment while decluttering since the new item replaces the one that would otherwise feel like a loss.

9. Find Digital Solutions

Many people have heaps and bounds of photo albums, old records, or books. These could all be recycled once a digital replacement has been put in place.

Photos can be scanned and saved to a memory stick or hard drive, replacing their space on the shelf with other decorative items. What’s great is that digital photo frames make it possible to shuffle and display your best photos. The same could be said for the space that your records take up.

However, it’s understandable that some people prefer to read an actual book than a digital copy. So, instead of keeping copies of all the books you’ve ever read, you can exchange them for a different one at second-hand bookstores or sell them online for others to enjoy too.

Final Thoughts

Make decluttering an enjoyable experience by changing the way you think about it. Looking at a pile of junk could be disheartening, but seeing it as a potential for something more could be exciting.

You may research ways to reuse items before filling the skip with many valuable things and educate others on the importance of being eco-friendly. After all, you’ll need to declutter your mind before your surroundings.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Is Plastic Harmful To The Environment?

Plastic has significant environmental effects since it takes a very long time to decompose. Furthermore, hazardous compounds are released into the soil when plastic breaks down under the sun, and when they are burned, a poisonous material is released into the air, causing pollution. Check the full post for how to prevent plastic pollution when you declutter.

Is There A Safe Way To Dispose Of Medications?

Yes, you can take expired medications to the nearest pharmacy, where they can ensure proper disposal since flushing them down the drain or toilet could harm your local water supply. Check out the full guide for more on how to declutter without hurting the environment.

What Can Be Done About Electronic Waste?

Some electronics contain cadmium, lithium, and other harmful elements. The best way to get rid of them is by selling, donating, or sending them to a facility that can recycle them properly. Check local recycling facilities to make sure they take the type of e-waste you have before you send it in.

References

Stanford News: Household Fragrances May Be Harming Aquatic Wildlife

Wired: Upcycled and Recycled Products

Wired: How to Preserve and Share Old Recipes 

The Spruce: Upcycling Everyday Items 

UNICEF: A Third of the World’s Children Poisoned by Lead

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