ENVIRONMENT, Zero waste

My Evolving Curbside Pile

My house needs breathing room. Cleaning out the clutter is priority these days and although I have known it for quite some time I have managed to put blinders up and ignore it’s importance. Everywhere I turn now it is mentioned lately. People are jumping on the bandwagon. Between books, articles, podcasts, etc. I can’t escape the reminders. It shouldn’t be that hard but to some it is.

Decluttering, dejunking, minimizing or whatever name you want to use is also about considering the environment.  It is a decision that impacts how much waste we produce. The less stuff we bring in our spaces, naturally there is less packaging, the by-product of purchasing items. This movement that is happening has called attention to something that has been talked about for years and that is the importance of minimizing our environmental carbon footprint.


Household recycling started the ball rolling.  I remember when waste management started adding blue bins into the mix.  It was a learning curve and an exercise in shrinking the pile size of our garbage. Over the years the system has developed and changed. The number of items that can go into our boxes is always improving and so has my diligence in filling it up.

Composting took another chunk out of the pile.  I live in a rural area so I can do my own composting. In the towns around my home there are municipal green bin programs where along with your garbage and recycling is a weekly organics pickup. Every spring the gorgeously fertile soil is available to residences for free, which I think is a great added incentive.

Now it is about reducing the size of my blue bin. When I began using my reusable bags at the grocery store it was amazing how much my recycling pile shrunk. When I began shopping more thoughtfully and sometimes in bulk, it shrunk a bit more. I aim to buy fewer processed items and try to shop at markets during the summer. I try to spend more time on the outskirts of the grocery stores.  The inside aisles are full of cans and processed goods, boxes of cereals, and jars, etc. I still go there because there are things I need and want but I try to use them less often than more because of health and conscious food choices. Recently I began bringing reusable produce bags but it is still hit and miss whether I remember to bring them. sometimes I get there and realize I have left them at home. Buying bulk is another way to cut down on packaging. For snacks and lunches on the go I refill containers from larger packs of food. My next step can be filling containers where I can buy from bulk bins.  More and more businesses are beginning to support this which is a really good thing! It’s an indication of the demand from eco-minded consumers.  Momentum is starting to grow.

 

DECLUTTERING

Counter Space

A constant source of aggravation for me is always having very little to no table space. I am continuously having to move things over to make room to work whether it is preparation for meals, eating, work or a place to set down a book.  I realized this was a problem long ago but it wasn’t until my daughter came along that I saw the real negative implications of this habit. I call it a habit because it was really just procrastination of putting things away.  Things are always just being set down to put away “later”. The problem with this is that later comes much-later, most likely during a cleaning blitz that I feel forced into and resent. Housework and maintenance should not be so negative.  I don’t want that for my family.  I want to provide an environment that is comfortable – not with the noise and chaos of clutter.

The Decluttering Plan

I tried some different approaches already.  I tried focusing on an area of the house. I tried dividing it into sections like kitchen supplies, office supplies, clothing, etc. – you get the drift. They all worked for a bit but then I lost steam.  That’s OK because I figure as long as I keep going, slow as it may be, it will gradually turn into a lifestyle. My approach these days is to keep reminding myself to be ruthless in my decision of whether a particular item stays or goes – yes or no. The yes is fine and if I am right it will find a home. The no’s are another story and post, but it must go out the door.

My biggest stumbling block is distraction.  Sometimes it is a physical interruption such as a call, text or email I need to deal with or some sort of mom duty – even letting the dog outside.  More than likely it is me getting stumped by “where do I put this”, or “should it be donated or tossed in the trash?”

And then my train of thought is off … rambling down the tracks.

This brings me to my next big block which is not to be wasteful. I have trouble carelessly filling up our landfills with things that are not broken. I am always wanting to pass things on somehow but sometimes junk is junk and other times it can be put to good use by someone else. So I have to decide whether it truly is trash or worth something to another.

And again, my train of thought is off.

Minimizing our stuff is all about discovering what we want to have around you – getting rid of all the excess. I am by no means looking to be a minimalist. I won’t get into it right now but I recognize that there is a difference. What I want is to just be thoughtful about the choices we make and the materials that buy.

I made this list of some of the reasons I have been drawn into this idea of minimizing/purging/decluttering/simplifying. They overlap and are integrated with each other. I don’t really think you can have one without the other, but for the sake of the list here it is.

  1. Healthy body
  2. Healthy mind
  3. Family
  4. Organization
  5. The environment