If you were following our recent February challenge – #tidysocietyproject – on Instagram with professional organiser and declutterer Claire aka The Tidy Life Project, you’ll know I was challenging her to introduce more zero waste swaps into her life. In turn, I was challenged to organise and declutter different parts of my home.
What did I learn from #tidysocietyproject ?
- It’s very similar to zero waste living in the way that simple changes are best to start with
- Productiveness over perfection, like zero waste, is paramount (too many p words there?!)
- Making things a habit makes life so much easier, just like carrying my reusable bags at all times, I now put things back where they belong
- The thought of homeless clutter made me feel extremely emotional for some reason, but also made me determined to find a new home for everything. Now every small bit of homeless clutter has a home in a small basket with the other odds and ends that don’t quite belong anywhere else but I know we’ll need
- I don’t need to hold onto paperwork when I’ve got online versions and now have a labelled envelope with important documents I do need to keep (birth certificates, tenancy agreement etc)
- Food that has been given to us that I know we won’t eat but is in date and doesn’t need refrigeration has now been donated to the food bank
- I’ve spoken with all of our family about the multitude of dreaded mugs that seem to come with Easter Eggs and this will no longer be happening and the excess we had have now been donated to a re-homing charity that kit people moving into their own place
- The best and simplest time saver I’ve saved for last (there was so many other bits I’ve not added in here as I’d be here all day) – Prepare things for the next morning, the night before. It’s so simple, and something I thought I’d have known to do before being a mum of 3, but getting shoes, bags, clothes, lunchboxes ready, breakfast poured into bowls with spoons out on the table, tea bag in my mug, kettle filled, medication out – everything I know I’ll need the next morning – all prepared for a simple, easy stress-free morning. Genius
So you want to get your declutter game head on?
Clear the wardrobes out
According to the Valuing our Clothes report from WRAP, the average UK household owns around £4,000 worth of clothes, and around 30% of those haven’t been worn for at least a year.
If clothes don’t fit then get rid of them! Be true to yourself whether you will fit into them again or even want to fit into them again. The same goes for clothes you’ve bought because they were a ‘great deal’ and never worn or clothes you just won’t wear again. Donate, swap them at a swap shop event, give to friends or sell them who will give them life again.
Through #tidysocietyproject challenge I got rid of a load of mugs, extra food that our family just wouldn’t eat, extra crockery/cooking utensils, a bamboo steamer (we had two for some reason) and a salad spinner, amongst a load of other stuff taking up valuable space in my tiny kitchen.
To clear some kitchen space, I donated extra food to the foodbank that was still in date – find your local one here. I also donated my extra mugs, crockery, cooking utensils, bamboo steamer and other kitchen gadgets I didn’t use or had duplicates of to the wonderful Magpies Eye which put together kits for people going into a new home with nothing. If you’re not local to Glasgow, then have a look online for your local Revolve shop or charity shops, perhaps you even have something similar to Magpies!
This was a difficult one for me to declutter initially as I had little in my bathroom to declutter now that I have a bar of soap and shampoo to serve cleaning myself, safety razor and use reusable sanitary wear.
I did however have some products from my crazy beauty regimen stockpiling days, that I said to myself I’d use up but decided to be real with myself as I no longer liked using the products. I posted them in our swap group on Facebook and swapped them for some gorgeous houseplants and loose tea!
You can either swap your products with someone who will use them, use them up yourself or donate full products to foodbanks or places like womens aid.
If you’ve got extra furniture of any kind, upload on Freecycle, call your local large goods charity shops for uplift services or call the national Re-Use phone line to see if they know of anyone who could uplift your furniture and reuse it.
I never thought I’d declutter my books, the thought of it made me feel like I’d be betraying my avid bibliophile personality if I ever decluttered them. This simply wasn’t true and a lie to myself so that I’d keep them. I have rekindled my love for books through second-hand, swapping, charity shop buys when I donate them and of course, supporting my local library.
To declutter my books, I sold a few online, donated my art books to a local art social enterprise, donated kids books to their school and the rest I donated to the various charity shops in my town. There are also book banks that can be found in some car park recycling areas and mini public libraries popping up all over you could leave them with.
Children’s toys were going to be a difficult thing to declutter, especially considering my 7 year old insisted he loved every single one of his toys. Upon asking him whether he thought another child may like to play with them, now that he’s grown out of a lot of them, he said it would be a lovely thing to do – success! There are toy libraries everywhere, as well as baby banks nowadays.
We personally donated a lot of ours (and kids clothing) to Babes in the Woods, a social enterprise baby bank. There is also Merry Go Round in Glasgow and many others all over. A quick online search will find the next forever home for those toys, costumes, clothing and books to be loved all over again.
Whether you went on a crazy shopping spree at the local hardware store or have collected random tools over the years for odd jobs, you can donate your tools to your local tool library! There are more and more popping up all the time now to help reduce this type of waste and we’re sure they would love your donations!
Decluttering is good for the soul
As you’ll have read in our interview with Amanda and her guest blog, living minimally and decluttering can be extremely helpful for the psyche and physical health. I can also attest to this as I have a far less stressful time tidying up now and I also feel far calmer now that I have less surrounding me. There have been many studies and articles showing how having less stuff calms anxiety too!
A privileged position to be in
I’d also like to make an important point, that I, along with many others, am extremely privileged to be in the position to declutter and make living more minimal a lifestyle choice. It’s not this way for everyone and I accept this. I wish it weren’t this way but unfortunately it’s the way things are for the time-being.
The same thing can also be applied to living more sustainably and zero waste. Despite not personally being privileged in the way many who use #zerowaste on their Instagram posts are, I am living in a developed country with many many opportunities available, after all, I managed to start up Society Zero. I’m also a Mediterranean white person, which means I get a head-start in life many others don’t.
The reason I bring this up, cautiously, is because of the reality of this conversation that is often overlooked and to also note I will be going into deeper conversation about this in the future here.
Using Privilege for good for #PassItOnWeek and decluttering
I would highly recommend, if you are decluttering and passing your belongings on because you no longer need or want them, to contact your local families charities, clothing banks, refugee settling contacts, homeless shelters, womens aid, social work departments and baby banks to see if they can take your donations. If you decide to sell some of your belongings, why not donate some of the revenue to these wonderful organisations? Good karma is waiting for you.