What does it mean to reduce? The first R doesn’t always get as much attention as the other two, reuse and recycle, but it’s incredibly important. It’s not just about finding new ways to reduce waste. Reducing is also about living with less. Consider the entire lifecycle of an item before you purchase it. Make shopping decisions based on what you need, not want. Find items in your home you no longer need and get rid of them in a way that doesn’t add to the waste stream.
Less Stuff, More Happiness
A popular TED Talk by TreeHugger.com founder Graham Hill explores what it means to live with less. In what he describes as an edited life, Graham says people often travel with a very small amount of belongings. That mentality can apply to your everyday life. By letting go of things you don’t need, thinking small, and using multifunctional items, you will be well on your way to an edited life.
This is Not My Cluttered House
How did we get here? There are some alarming statistics about how much stuff we actually own. Americans spend $1.2 trillion annually on nonessential goods. We spend more on shoes, jewelry and watches than we do on higher education. There are many ways to reduce the amount of possessions in our home.
There are lots of great benefits of decluttering including less debt, less stuff to move and less stress. So take a trip through your house and find ways to edit. But don’t just run through the house with a garbage bag. Use other options like donation and resale and recycling to give your items another life.
Cooking Off Clutter
Start in the kitchen.
- Do you have food that is nearing expiration that you won’t be able to eat? Donate it to a local food pantry.
- Are you finding yourself having to throw food out? Be sure you are storing food in the best way to keep it fresh longer. Invest in a quality food storage product.
- Do you use all those kitchen gadgets? Donate those that you no longer need and make wise buying decisions to keep clutter out. Use coffee makers with reusable filters and appliances that do multiple jobs and will be long lasting.
- Try using simple tools to replace your electric gadgets and have a minimalist kitchen.
Cleaning Out Your Closets
Take a look around your bedroom. Do you wear all those clothes in your closet?
- Donate unwanted clothes to businesses like Goodwill, Arc’s Value Village or Salvation Army. Seek out other donation options that may be even closer to you.
- Several metro cities have started clothing recycling programs. Residents in several communities including St. Louis Park, Brooklyn Park and Saint Paul can place clothing and other items into bags and leave them at the curb for pickup. Clothing can’t go in your regular recycling bins.
- Hennepin County recently started a collection program for non-reusable clothing and linens at drop-off facilities.
Less in Every Room
Consider small changes to make in every room:
- Your bathroom is probably home to some things you don’t need anymore. Don’t forget cleaners are often household hazardous waste and have to be brought to drop-off sites. Empty bottles can go in the garbage.
- Donate unneeded blankets or towels or bring them to the Animal Humane Society to be used for bedding, grooming or cleaning up their animal shelters.
- Donate or recycle items from your home office you no longer need, and check your bookshelves for books you may not read again.
- The garage probably has plenty of things that could be used again, sold or donated, as well as things that need to be brought to facilities like paint, tires and pesticides.
Buy Smart, Own Less
Make sure products you purchase are durable and well-built so they will last longer and will be able to be reused. Try fixing items at fix-it clinics or with online guides, and share or borrow items when you can. Stay organized to avoid clutter. Reduce what you purchase, reuse what you can, and recycle what’s left.