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A wonderful knock-on effect of decluttering can be to help you live more sustainably. When we take the time to sort through our belongings, it can really open our eyes as to how we are living.

We can use decluttering as an opportunity to make changes to our habits and live more sustainably. These in turn can help make our environmental footprint smaller. We have included some products in this post which may seem counter-intuitive but in the long-run they will help you cut down on less eco-friendly alternatives. Please note as an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.

Here are a few ways decluttering can help you live more sustainably:

1. Become a more mindful consumer

When we sort through our belongings and ask ourselves what we want to keep and let go of in our life, we really understand when, how and why we buy items. You may notice that you are:

  • an aspirational buyer. For example, buying a lot of things that you don’t realistically have time to do or the occasion to wear
  • an emotional buyer. For example, buying on your lunch-break or at end of a long and stressful work-day to make yourself feel better. 
  • a duplicate-buyer. For example, you can’t find things when you need them so you buy items again because that is quicker. 

Decluttering is all well and good but to avoid the clutter building up again quickly, we need to address our long-term habits. The biggest habit that makes a difference is the way we buy and bring things into our homes. 

Here are a couple of ways to change your buying habits and live more sustainably:

  • Unsubscribe from emails selling you goods (become aware of the adverts bombarding you trying to encourage you to buy!)
  • Leave items in your check-out basket for a week before you buy 
  • Remove credit card details from accounts you regularly buy from
  • Buy pre-loved / second-hand items rather than brand new (this slows down the buying process and makes it more intentional)

2. Reduce one-use plastic 

When decluttering, you may notice how many things are made out of one-use plastic. This is usually the case in your kitchen and bathroom. A few easy switches you can make for the future are:

  • Use reusable bags to cut back on plastic bag waste. You can use product bags to buy loose fruits, vegetables and bread. You can even store foods in your freezer in reusable bags.
  • Ditch plastic drinks bottles. Buy a reusable coffee cup and reusable bottle and take these with you when you go out.
  • Have practical recycling solutions in your home. For example, choose bins with different sections to make it as easy as possible to recycle in your home.
  • Reduce your food waste by having a food plan each week. Declutter and organise your food cupboards so you can see exactly what you have. This also means you avoid buying lots of duplicates and food expiring without being used. Shelf dividers can help you see what you have easily.
  • Try making home-made cleaners in spray bottles with bicarbonate of soda, warm water and lemon. 
  • Use eco-friendly washing up brushes instead of plastic-based scrubbers and sponges.
  • Join a toy library so that toys are used and then returned.
  • Use reusable sanitary pads or menstrual cups which save a huge amount of one-use plastic.

3. Reduce paper

The newspaper and book publishing industries consume billions of gallons of water each year and paper production also means cutting down trees. A few ways to reduce the amount of paper coming into your home:

  • Borrow books from your local library. Noot only are you supporting vital resources for your local community but you are reducing the amount of trees being cut down.
  • Opt to read your favourite newspaper publications online instead of reading paper versions. You can even go one step and change your electrical energy supplier to a renewable energy supplier.
  • Subscribe to paperless statements, letters and notices from your banks and utility suppliers.
  • Ask shops to email you a receipt instead of printing one out for you. Request at the same time not to be subscribed to their mailing list.

4. Reduce buying things for others

When decluttering, it is tempting to let go of things to our friends and family. This is of course better than putting things in the bin. However, most people have their own clutter crises going on behind closed doors. Check that the person you are giving things to REALLY wants those things. Send them a photo and ask them and give them an easy way to say no so they don't feel pressured to take things they don't want.

Donations are great but remember that charities receive huge amounts of goods and can only sell things in good condition. There are of course ways to let go of unwanted items in your community e.g. in the UK - Olio or Young Planet. However, the best way to live more sustainably is to not buy too much in the first place or buy things second-hand or pre-loved yourself. 

When it comes to gifts for others e.g. birthdays and celebrations, you could try:

  • Suggesting a low spending limit so that the pressure is taken off and you can be as creative or not as you want!
  • Asking what experiences a family member or friend might like rather than gifting objects that they might not really need or want.

Need a helping hand?

We hope this helps you to make a few changes which help you live more sustainably! If you need a hand decluttering, find and book one of our amazing team of organisers to help you here: