6 Sustainable Organizing & Decluttering Tips for Your Home
While an organized home can create peaceful conditions where efficiency and productivity are enhanced, decluttering can potentially do more harm than good in terms of the environment. Use these six tips to not only organize your home, but also reduce waste and help preserve the earth.
1. Be Deliberate About Decluttering
When starting out on your organizing adventure, the first step is to clear out the things you don’t need or want anymore. If they’re still in good condition, stuff like books, clothes, furniture and small appliances can usually be donated. Research ahead of time what items your local donation centers or charities accept before you schedule a pickup or make a drop-off.
Another option is to simply give your unwanted belongings away to friends, family or neighbors, or to sell them in a yard sale so that they find new life and don’t end up in a landfill.
2. Know Your Recycling Options
There’s a good chance that you won’t be able to donate some of your items, so learn about recycling them, as opposed to just throwing them away. A website called Earth911 is a great resource for how to properly recycle anything from old cleaning products to lightbulbs. It also shows you where the items can be dropped off locally.
3. Seek Out Sustainable Organizing Supplies
If you’re organizing your home, then you’ll most likely be needing baskets and bins to help keep your things in order. Try to find ones made of renewable or recycled materials. Companies are increasingly choosing to make products from natural elements like cotton, bamboo and water hyacinth.
A nice thing about sustainable products is that they tend to be well-built so that they last. This is not only good for the environment — cutting down on materials and the waste created by having to make replacement products — but also makes things more cost-effective for consumers. Sustainable products for organizing tend to be more durable and a better quality than those made from flimsy plastic. They won’t need to be replaced as often, which minimizes waste and saves you time and money in the long run.
One thing you’ll want to do, however, is make sure the products are certified. A certification may use terms like ‘sustainable’ or ‘green,’ but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are as eco-friendly as you think. Do your research on the certification so that you know for sure the products are in alignment with your values.
4. Repurpose Existing Items
Another option when sourcing containers to help organize your belongings is to repurpose items you already own. Glass jars make great receptacles for holding pens, makeup brushes or dry goods in the pantry. Jewelry boxes and shoeboxes can be used as durable organizers inside desk or dresser drawers. Get your creative juices flowing as you think about unconventional storage solutions that will save you money and a trip to the store.
5. Shop Purposefully
After you’ve decluttered, be intentional about what you bring into the home. If impulse buying is an issue, work to change that habit so that you’re not adding clutter to your house or excess to the environment through packaging and unnecessary products.
If you’re a bulk shopper, you might benefit from decanting products so that you’re aware of exactly how much you have on hand. This also makes it easier to find things when you need them, and keeps you from buying too much and wasting products that have expiration dates, like medicines and food. For example, consider storing rice, pasta and oats in airtight glass jars in the pantry, and use a dry erase marker to write the expiration date or cooking instructions on the jar. This way you see how much of each staple you have before impulsively buying more.
6. Go Paper Free
While plastic is a big environmental concern, it’s not the only material that should be on your radar. Paper clutters up your home and can contribute to deforestation. Recycling is a big help in saving trees, water and energy, but an even better option is to reduce your paper use altogether. One way to do that is to remove yourself from junk mail lists and go with paperless billing. Also, consider setting up a designated email account for receipts — they’ll all go to one place for easy organizing at tax time, and you won’t have piles of paper cluttering up your home.