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Are you decluttering in a responsible way?

February 25, 2017

In my last blog, I mentioned disposing of unwanted stuff in a responsible manner. In this blog, I will touch on what that means and how you can go about it. Put simply responsible disposing of unwanted items means to dispose of items in an environmentally friendly manner. Often when we throw things away, they end up in landfill. For some items, landfill is the only option. However, where possible landfill should always be the last resort, and we should always consider alternative ways of discarding unwanted items. Landfill has environmental consequences as land needs to be cleared for it and many items remain in landfill for hundreds to thousands of years. Furthermore, items in landfill can release toxic chemicals while they disintegrate. We should avoid landfill, and one way to do this is through the reduce, reuse and recycle approach. Let’s take a closer look at the three R’s starting with recycling. 

 

Recycle  
Recycling has come a long way over the last few decades. Today many basic items like plastic, paper and glass can be placed into your weekly/ fortnightly home recycling collection. More complex items such as furniture, white goods, electronics, batteries, and globes can be recycled at drop off stations provided by local councils. Check out your local council website to learn more. Furthermore, some companies will allow you to return items you no longer use. When I replaced my mobile phone, I was able to give my old one back and even got a credit on my phone bill for doing so. Where an item can be recycled, it should be rather than ending up in landfill. As great as recycling is reuse is a much better approach.    

 

Reuse  
Reuse is great as it allows you to prolong the life of an item without the need for you or someone else to purchase a new one. You can reuse many items such as glass jars, wrapping paper, boxes, etc. An old t-shirt can be re-purposed as cleaning cloths. Caution, DON’T keep things you will never use as they will clutter your home. You are on the path of a minimalist lifestyle so only keep items if you have a genuine need for them and they will add value to your life. Don’t despair if you don’t have a need for an item someone else might. There are several ways you can give away your unwanted items.  

 

Sell  

Selling is an excellent way to get some extra cash.  Sites such as eBay or Gumtree are great online platforms to sell stuff and don’t forget the good old garage sale. 

 

Give it away for free 
Giving something you no longer need to someone who does, can be rewarding. However, this doesn’t mean forcing your unwanted items on to others.  If you know someone that has a need for something you no longer need then offer it to them. 

 

Donate  
Give your unwanted goods to a charity or op shop. Many will sell your unwanted products with money raised being used to support disadvantaged members of the community.  Donating can be a feel good experience as you know that your unwanted goods are not ending up in landfill but also helping others in the community. Always make sure that items are in good condition before donating them to charity.  Reuse is much better than recycling however it is not as useful as reduce. 

 

Reduce  

Of the three R’s reduce is the star of the show and is technically not even a discarding method. You don’t need to think about disposing of stuff if you don’t have it in the first place. Reduce is the core of a minimalist lifestyle and will require you to challenge consumerism. This can be difficult given you live in a society that wants you to buy the latest goods. Where advertising tells you that to be happy you have to have the most recent products (which is further from the truth). For many people that can mean using credit cards to purchase items resulting in debt. Consequently, these products often become outdated within months. Reducing your consumption helps to reduce your environmental impact. As every item you own needs resources and energy to make it, placing stress on the planet's resources.  During production, toxic chemicals are often released into the environment. Once goods are created, they are transported to stores, once again releasing more chemicals. Products that are no longer needed most likely end up in landfill. Through reducing your consumption, you reduce the strain on the environments resources, chemicals going into the environment and items ending up in landfill. Furthermore, reduce saves you money as you are not spending money on items you don’t need and also time is not wasted cleaning and maintaining items.  Ultimately the best way to dispose of a product is never to own it in the first place.

 

When you declutter your home ensure you dispose of unwanted stuff in an environmentally friendly manner.  Recycling and reusing are great techniques to ensure your unwanted stuff doesn’t end up in landfill.  To embrace a minimalist lifestyle and to cut your environmental impact aim to reduce your consumption.  Take proactive steps to always question the value of the things before you buy them, shop with a purpose and always question do I really need this.  Let your real need for the item drive whether you buy it rather than images, advertisements and marketing telling you; you need it. Finally, the best outcome of decluttering, is never to declutter again.

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