If you get nothing else out of this article, decluttering while zero waste IS possible. I’m a work in progress on both minimalism and zero waste. Some things I’ve noticed while working on both is that often, when in a big declutter phase, people often resort to “just get rid of it!” This mentality leads to throwing away perfectly good items in the name of becoming a minimalist. From there it might be zero waste, but a process which includes throwing out perfectly usable items is not zero waste! On the other hand, I’ve noticed many in the zero waste community say to “just hang onto” something in case a good use comes along for the item. Sure, a t shirt you don’t wear could become a dish rag, but when you’ve already got plenty of dish rags, what do you do? Wait two years until you might turn it into a rag? No because then you have items to store that you don’t actually want or need at that time. So how do you balance decluttering while zero waste?
Five Tips for Decluttering While Zero Waste
- STOP BUYING – This theme rings true in minimalism and zero waste living. Stop buying new things until you have a need. The “declutter” process will likely show you things you didn’t realize you had, or way to repurpose old items to fill a new role. I see a lot of deciding to live “zero waste” then immediately purchase produce bags. That isn’t zero waste! Zero waste is going through what you have to see if there is something that would work for this purpose that you’d otherwise not want. Zero waste is NOT buying more.
- Donate or sell – For items in good condition donate them! You don’t have to keep items you don’t like just because you might use them someday. Especially if these items could go to use now! Another avenue of this is selling items. Apps like ThredUp and Poshmark make it easy to sell items quickly for a profit. I also cannot stress enough to only donate items in GOOD condition. If you aren’t sure what to do with items in poor condition, see item 4.
- Give – some items, like open makeup, you could give to a friend or family member. Don’t force it on them if they don’t want it, but you never know! Be very cautious of what items you do this with, and sanitize!
- List for Free – Craigslist and Freecycle are awesome websites to list items for free. Those items you have but are broken, ripped, stained etc and you aren’t sure what to do? List them for Free. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. You never know what people’s hobbies are. Someone may be working on a project and be able to use whatever you want to get rid of.
- Repurpose – I kind of said otherwise, but sometimes it is a great idea to repurpose old stained clothes as cleaning rags. Old totes or bags make great shopping or produce bags. Glass jars can be cups etc. There are many different ways to use items if you just think outside the box.
Ultimately, I want to own all items that bring me joy (yes I do love Marie Kondo) but are sustainable. That means it will take years of using our current items and replacing with better options. But this is a process. Slow and steady wins the race when it comes to decluttering while zero waste!
Let me know if you have some tips too! I’m always wanting to learn more:)