Do you open your desk drawer to find bills and paperwork dating back five or even 10 years? You have never needed them for anything, but you hesitate to throw them away because you just never know.
Perhaps you bought a house with a two-car garage only to find yourself— some years later— unable to park even one car in there. You wouldn’t be alone; roughly 25-35 percent of Americans use their garages for storage and not for cars.
Cutting down on “stuff”
We live in the technological and the material age. Some of us just have WAY too much stuff. A lot of it may be useful or sentimental, but much of it is extra baggage you carry around with you, stressing yourself out.
Research shows that there are more than 300,000 items in the average American household. This massive amount of clutter can be the culprit for elevated levels of stress and anxiety in our lives. Psychologists believe that:
- Too many possessions are distracting, overwhelming our minds with too much stimulation.
- Clutter creates anxiety because we are afraid of what we will find at the bottom of a pile.
- We get frustrated and anxious because we cannot efficiently find what we need when searching through too many belongings.
- Too much clutter makes it feel like we have work to do, so we can’t ever truly relax in our own homes.
Throwing things away in an eco-friendly way
Decluttering your home is a process and, for many of us, can take several days or even weeks. As you unearth books, clothes, papers, and photos you have seen for several presidencies, you may be wondering how you can dispose of this disorder in an eco-friendly way. Here are four tips for decluttering your home without damaging the environment.
Recycle the small stuff.
Recycling is so commonplace now that it has become as automatic to put items in the recycling container as the trash can. But do you know for sure if what you’re tossing in the blue bin is actually recyclable? For example, a recycling facility can’t accept items with food particles on it. So that pizza box from last night’s delivery— though cardboard— is not recyclable. While unwanted electronics are recyclable, they can’t simply be mixed in with plastic, paper or tin. You need to take those items— called e-waste— to a special drop-off center.
Recycle the big stuff, too!
Did you know that you can recycle more than just paper, glass and plastic? Recycling bigger items helps prevent bedding, electronics, and appliances from stacking up in the landfill. Don’t let your old mattress become one of the 20 million mattresses that end up in landfills each year. Look for ways to recycle or refurbish your old mattress the next time you upgrade to a new one.
You don’t have to worry if recycling that certificate from two jobs ago will come back to haunt you. When it’s time to declutter, scan documents, paperwork, and photos and host them in cloud storage. You can then access digital versions when you need them, or even print high-resolution images when hit with a creative spark for a photo collage.
Clean with the power of green.
Once you have removed your unwanted clutter, it’s time to maintain and sustain this new freedom by greening up your cleaning routine. There are many different kinds of eco-friendly cleaning lines out there, but for maximum impact, you’ll want to make sure that both what’s inside the bottle and what it’s made of is environmentally friendly.
Look for eco-friendly cleaning products in containers made from recyclable materials that can also be recycled when they are empty. And be sure you get a good deep clean without any chemicals, free of free of phosphates, chlorine, ammonia and petroleum distillates.
The average American will waste almost 4,000 hours searching for lost or misplaced items over the course of their life. Decluttering not only saves you effort in the long run, but it helps you define what is important to you.