A guest post by Cindy Bogard
The three Rs, reduce, reuse, recycle. In decluttering, sometimes it’s easy to overlook the three Rs, especially if you’re going quickly. There are a lot of reasons to like a-thing-a-day decluttering and proper consideration of the three Rs is one of them.
Notice that the first R is reduce. It’s the most important one of all, starting with only buying what you really need and using it completely. Or buy it used; then you’re not creating demand for another of the same. Consider the packaging of your purchases. Don’t buy single-serving items and buy in bulk – even better if you take your own baggie to fill in the bulk aisle. Say no to bags at the store and bring your own. Use durable items rather than disposables (cloth napkins instead of paper, etc.). Take your own mug into the coffee shop – some even give you a small discount. Bring your own totes to the store. I even bring home plastic forks and spoons from restaurants; a bit ironic since I hardly ever use plastic wear. Typically it gets donated to the school or church, and at least it gets used twice, rather than once.
Use your durable goods longer. All of my furniture was purchased used, and all has been reupholstered. My mother’s living room set has been upholstered three times. Good job Mom! Repair items rather than replacing them. It makes me crazy when someone says, “I can buy a new one for $100 more than it costs to fix this one.” Yes, but you already own this one, and it can be fixed, for $100 less than new.
Do something with your food waste other than throwing it away – compost, feed a pet, or simply throw it to the back fence like I used to. It either breaks down or the possums who were already visiting my yard have a treat. (No, I never noticed an increase in furry visitors when I did this, probably because my food waste is limited.) I take a container to restaurants for my leftovers, rather than accepting their throw away package, and I mark my leftovers clearly with a piece of masking tape that says what’s inside and what day it went in. Everyone eats lunches from home, and that minimizes food waste, too.
“Use it up and wear it out,” we’ve all heard that. Reuse is the next R. Don’t buy something just because it’s new, different, or cute. Drive your car until it goes its last mile and replace it with a used vehicle. I wash out the plastic baggies I use and reuse them many times, but I try to use them infrequently. I have plenty of containers for my family’s sack lunches. This is the third year that my children have used the same school backpacks. The PDA that I use used to be my husband’s; he got a fancier one, and I got his. Most children love hand-me-downs. I suppose their enthusiasm may wane at some point, but it hasn’t yet. We take anything that’s too soiled to be handed down and toss it into a fiber pile. The girls are free to pull out and cut up anything in this pile, which is used to make doll clothes, cat toys, baby blankets, and 100 other things that their clever minds can devise.
There is virtually nothing that you can’t buy used and that you can’t get rid of used. Try Freecycle, Craigslist, eBay, Goodwill, Salvation Army, Replacements (china and dish ware), your church clothing closet, or literally thousands of other places that will take used goods off your hands. I think it’s important, too, to shop at these places. We all need to help close the circle of supply and demand.
Just about anything in your home can be Recycled. It seems to be the R that’s talked about the most, but I think sometimes the phrase “it can be recycled” leads to wasteful use. For example, I was shopping with someone, and she put every bit of her produce – even one grapefruit – into separate plastic sacks because “they can be recycled!” Yes, but by that time that truck comes through your neighborhood and hauls things to the recycling center, where they’re separated and trucked to a number of other facilities and that’s just the beginning, it’s not environmentally “free”.
Nonetheless, here is a list of things you should always recycle
My friends at The Clutter Consultants here in Austin, Texas tell me that sometimes the urge to recycle or reuse stymies people in their pursuit of less clutter and more organization. Decluttering nice and slow allows you to take proper consideration of each item and allows you to make the best choice about what should become of that item.
What did you declutter today, and how did you Reduce, Reuse, or Recycle?
Thanks to National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences for help with this article.
Today’s decluttered item from Cindy’s house: a dozen cans of V8, given to my parents, and two bottles of sparkling cider (too “carbalicious” for Clara), given to a friend who frequently entertains.
ITEM 310 OF 365 LESS THINGS
I have two other craft hammers and this one is not well weighted to do the job it is supposed to day maybe it will be more useful to someone else.
5 things I am grateful for today
- The thrift shop for taking so many of my rejects – I took a much needed trip over there this morning and dropped off a load of stuff.
- A roof over my head – I can’t imagine what it would be like living on the street in this rainy weather.
- Liam scored a 12 out or 12 for his post traumatic Amnesia testing today which is great. If he scores 12 three days in a row he will be able to start his brain injury therapy. He is walking and talking better and I saw a lot of glimpses of the old Liam today. His sister will be pleased. He had also been doing some artwork (not on his sheets this time) and seems to be able to focus better and for longer periods on activities.
- A hearty dinner – another of those things we so often take for granted that others in the world go without too often.
- A good end to the day