Humans produce a lot of waste.
According to one study, the average American generates about 4.3 pounds of waste every day,
more than half of which goes straight into landfills.
Worse, with spring around the corner, most people are about to fill their trash bins more than usual.
The annual spring clean usually results in a massive decluttering initiative that sees tons of unwanted
junk thrown away.
However, not all clutter is inherently garbage; in fact, most of the clutter around your home can be
disposed of in ways that conserve resources, preserve the environment, and contribute to a needy
Here are five steps to help you overcome your clutter in a smart, sustainable way.
Recognize the Dangers of Hoarding
You might mistakenly believe that saving everything you have ever purchased is the best way to be
green: You are preventing it from entering a landfill and endangering the ecosystem, and you might
even find a way to recycle or upcycle some things later on.
However, this behavior can quickly become dangerously unsustainable, putting you, your bank
account, and the environment at risk.
Though it may seem harmless, holding onto old, unnecessary possessions is usually a sign of some
mental or emotional instability.
At its most drastic, the behavior is called “hoarding” and treated with intense counseling and medication.
Still, even minor hoarding can be detrimental.
For one, you are paying over and over again to store your stuff: You might lease storage space or
own a larger home to contain your clutter; you pay to relocate your things whenever you move;
you might even hire labor to maintain your unnecessary goods just in case you do decide to use them.
Worst of all, hoarding is literally unsafe, as clutter can attract disease-carrying pests, make living
structures unstable, and present serious risks for fire, flooding, and more.
Once you recognize that keeping junk around is bad all-around, you can start effectively and efficiently
decluttering your home.
Put Your Needs to the Test
The hardest part of a purge is sorting through your possessions to determine what should stay and
what should go.
Unfortunately, more people err on the side of keeping more than they need.
You can employ the following simple tests to determine what items you no longer need to own:
• Place sticky notes on every piece of furniture in your home.
Whenever you use that piece of furniture ― by sitting on it, opening it, or placing
things on it ― you can remove the sticky note.
After six months, you should give away any furniture that still bears a sticky note.
• Reverse all your clothing so every article is inside-out.
When you wear an item, you can reverse it once again to be right-side-out.
Any clothing that remains inside-out for six months should be given away.
• Box up miscellaneous clutter and write the date on the outside of the box.
If you have no reason to open the box for six months, you should get rid of it.
Find Someone Worthy of Your Possessions
It is tempting to throw all unnecessary, unwanted possessions into the garbage because that method
rids you of your clutter quickly and quietly.
However, allowing usable items to fill landfills is unacceptable.
Instead, you can perform minimal research to find charitable organizations that will gladly accept boats,
vehicles, or anything else you have.
Often, your old goods go directly to families in dire need of assistance, meaning charities prefer items in
good, working order, but plenty of causes accept broken-down or poorly functioning donations which can
be refurbished and sold with the proceeds then going to those in need.
Avoid Repeating Your Wanton Behavior
It is easy to get into the habit of buying more than you need, especially when you live in a place
with plenty of space.
However, being an extravagant consumer endangers the environment ― by encouraging producers
to deplete more natural resources, by generating more and more trash, and by wasting energy
transporting and storing useless items.
Therefore, after this spring clean, you should commit to living a minimalist lifestyle.
Living with less is actually more fulfilling than cluttering your life with unnecessary junk; it compels
you to evaluate the benefits of every potential purchase, helping you gain control of your finances
and keep your home clean and organized year-round.
It isn’t difficult to become minimalist, and there are so many personal and environmental benefits.
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