Most homeowners can agree that living with less clutter is an appealing prospect. Executing it, however, is another thing entirely. If you’re committed to maintaining a green, low-waste home, it’s even more complicated. Decluttering your house means throwing a lot of stuff away, and sometimes that stuff is hazardous to the environment. How can you achieve a tidier home while sticking to your values? These four tips show you how.
1. Stock Up on Green Cleaning Supplies
You’ll want to clean up as you declutter, so make sure you have supplies handy. Instead of conventional cleaners that pollute indoor air, opt for green cleaning supplies that use non-toxic ingredients and containers made from recycled materials. Instead of getting swayed by greenwashing at the store, use the Environmental Working Group’s Guide to Healthy Cleaning to choose the safest cleaning supplies for your home — or better yet, make your own in reusable containers.
If indoor air quality is important to you (and it should be, especially if you have allergies or asthma), you’ll also want a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter for sucking up dust mites, dander, and other allergens that make their way indoors. Upright models are a great choice for most homes because the adjustable height allows them to be used on a variety of carpeting and hard floors.
2. Donate What You Can
When it comes to managing waste, reuse is preferred over recycling or disposal. And what better way to reuse items you no longer need than to donate them to someone who does? Charity thrift stores accept a wide range of donated household goods such as furniture, cookware and clothing, as long as they’re in good condition. If you have linens that are showing their age but still have life, try donating them to a local animal shelter. Garage full of partially used building supplies? A Habitat for Humanity ReStore is the place to go.
If you prefer to make money back on your unwanted stuff, host a yard sale. Yard sales are a great way to sell furniture, recreational equipment, tools and other household goods. They’re also an opportunity to give away items that charities can’t take like open cleaning products.
3. Know Your Local Recycling Rules
There are certain things you should never toss out with the household trash. These include large and small appliances, electronics, batteries, fluorescent light bulbs, prescription medication, auto fluids, lawn and garden chemicals, and certain household cleaners. Most cities have programs for collecting hazardous household waste. You may be able to call your city and arrange a pick-up or drop-off or you may have to wait for a specified collection date. Either way, it’s worth the effort to keep toxic items out of the landfill.
4. Go Paperless
Holding onto physical copies of paperwork and photographs doesn’t just use a lot of space, it’s also not very secure. If your home flooded or caught fire, you could lose it all. Reduce paper clutter by digitizing the contents of your filing cabinets and photo albums, taking care to protect any documents with personal information (Digital Guardian explains how). If you need to retain paper copies of certain documents, store them in a fireproof safe.
Once your home is decluttered, be mindful of new stuff you bring into your home. By purchasing items intentionally, rather than letting impulse get the best of you, you can curate a home that’s stocked with everything you need and nothing you don’t. And while eco-friendly decluttering is a great way to reduce your environmental impact, it’s conscious consumerism that keeps your home — and the environment — clutter-free for the long-term.
Guest post written by Natalie Jones.
Image via Unsplash