In a few months, I’ll be celebrating my two-year wedding anniversary. However, within such a short period, I have reorganized my home five times. And I’m looking forward to doing it again soon. Now, I’m not crazy and I don’t have that luxury of time as you might think. But in a way, I’ve become so obsessed with
that I just can’t afford to ignore all the benefits of having and maintaining one. Apart from the fact that it enriches my life in so many obvious ways, It also has a massive potential to help save our planet if only every home will do just that. Ask me how.
Think about just how you feel walking everyday into a home with crowded bookshelves, a pantry stacked with cans and cartons of expired food, disorganized files everywhere and the sight of your closet makes you want to run out for help. If this makes you feel like there’s something wrong, then there really is something wrong. It usually takes a lot of effort to get rid of all the mess, but then, much lesser effort in going on with a waste-free life. Having a junk free home will not only give you a lighter frame of mind but will boost your overall mood and productivity.
In most cases, you could afford to hire a professional organizer who would take a critical look at your entire home and help you decide the major things to get rid of for a totally decluttered home. You could also do it yourself just like I did, mentally detaching yourself from the situation and looking at things from an outsider’s point of view. Whichever the case, investing your time in reorganizing your home pays off in the long run. You may even earn some profit by selling some of your good old possessions.
But what happens with all the things that you can’t sell? This is where the headache sets in. The usual thinking is for you to stack everything in a garbage bag and dump it off somewhere; it’s the easy solution, isn’t it? But have you thought about the destructive results it could bring to our environment if every single home took that easy road?
A study conducted in the University of Arizona in 1973 by investigating what people disposed as waste was named garbology. In the report of that study, It was discovered that the average human being produces 100 tons of refuse in his/her lifetime. Now you would agree with me that that’s a lot of landfill. So personally, here’s what each of us can do to cut down on the amount of waste we produce. It comes down to the green watchword: “Reduce”, “Reuse”, “Recycle”.
If the idea of reorganizing your home seems like a task too big for you to dive into, why not start by setting small goals each day. Begin with a room or even a smaller space like your closet and focus on working your way around it. While doing that, make a small list of the items you’re getting rid off on paper and your action plan towards doing so. It has to be a workable schedule that you can stick with. Here are some specific areas that you can focus on while reorganizing your home.
We all have that drawer, closet or garage that’s filled with old electronics which we believe “might be useful” someday. Let’s be honest with ourselves, are we ever going to use these old electronics again? For most of us, the chances are very slim. So why not list your old electronics on an online buy and sell site or donate them to charity. If they are in bad condition, a very good idea is to get them repaired and gifted out rather than dumping them on a landfill. Most towns have someone who accepts your old electronics for charity or resale. You can hand them over to these people. One person’s junk is another person’s treasure, so help others to use and reuse things before they finally wear out.
Except clothes gifted to me by my mum which I keep for personal reasons, I usually do a wardrobe change at least every two years by giving my old clothes out to charity or swapping some with my friends. Most of us are guilty of keeping closets, drawers and storage bags full of old clothes should they come back into fashion or for when we lose or gain weight. The chances of ever getting to wear these clothes again are very slim so the question is “Why not get rid of them to free up the clutter in your home?” Old clothes, particularly ones that are past their best or ones you haven’t worn in a year or two should either be donated to charity or swapped with friends. The particularly good ones with sought after labels can be resold at a garage sale, which even makes you some more money. You can also join an online group dedicated to selling and swapping. Through donating, swapping or selling, you’ll be doing your own little bit for the environment.
If you are a bookaholic like me, I know how precious your books are to you and how badly you want to keep holding on to them. However, piles upon piles of old books that you no longer read as well as CDs you don’t listen to and DVDs you don’t watch will only clutter up your home and make it difficult for you to organize. Why don’t you do a giveaway, by either inviting some of your bookaholic friends over for a book lunch or make use of social media. You can also donate them to local libraries, schools, learning centers or even resell them at a cheaper price.
You may want to consider buying an ebook reader instead which makes it possible to store hundreds of digital books in a tiny space. Instead of buying DVDs, consider getting a subscription to one or two movie streaming services like Netflix to free up more space.
A lot us are guilty of stacking up heaps of bills all around our homes. Why don’t you try going paperless by setting up your accounts to be paid directly from your bank or credit card. This way, you’re certainly never going to miss out on paying your bills again and at the same time, you’ll be helping the environment.
A peep into anyone’s bathroom will find us taking aback by the piles of empty bottles of bath gels, shampoos and cleaning products cluttering the space. We can all do better in this area by reusing these bottles and containers in making our own beauty products. This will not only help to minimize waste, but will also keep harmful chemicals away from our bodies. If you also have bottles of medicines or supplements lying around, why not reuse them by converting them into storage containers for your spices, cosmetics and whatnot.
You’ve most likely accumulated a large amount of crockery and other kitchen wares that you probably won’t be using in years to come. Why don’t you consider gifting some to friends or donating to charity.
Back when I was a child, I remember having friends whose unused toys were stored away in a big sack inside their closets. You may also have a pack or two of unused diapers you’ve been keeping since your last child outgrew them. You may perhaps think you’re saving them for another child. This is absolutely not necessary. Children outgrow their toys and diapers at a very fast rate. This is a good time to teach the kids lessons on charity and decluttering by encouraging them to donate unwanted toys to other children in need. You can pin a notice up in front of your building that you have some free toys and diapers to give away. Otherwise, you can do a social media giveaway just to make sure you rid yourself of these extra things.
Most times, our grocery bags are meant to be used over and over again. But having a few washable cloth bags is better than a pile of plastic bags that you collect each time you go shopping. So be sure to stock up on reusable washable eco-friendly cloth bags instead and make sure you don’t accept a new plastic grocery bag from your grocery store whenever you go shopping.
You may have large items that you aren’t exactly sure how to get rid of. These may range from old pieces of furniture, doors or some other similar items. Why not figure out how these items can be given a makeover, upcycled and repurposed. You can also consider freecycling by posting the items you want to get rid off on your social media platforms or on a buy and sell website for someone to come pick up.
Ultimately, we need to resist the urge to buy things and consume less. A minimalist lifestyle will go a long way in allowing us to live our best life. It allows us to focus on the quality of our lives and not our stuff. So often, the things we possess hold us back and take over our lives. If we acquired less things, shared the ones we have or discarded the ones we no longer need so that others can use them, It will help to keep stuff out of landfills and thus, save our environment. In the end, let’s ask ourselves “What legacy are we leaving behind to the coming generations?” Is it a legacy of a life well spent or a legacy of the huge possessions left behind?
Originally published at www.greenmuslimblog.com