De-cluttering: what is it, and why is it good for us?

How many of the clothes in your wardrobe do you really use?

Have you ever found products at the back of the cupboard that you forgot you had bought? Is your garage so full of things that even parking has become a challenge?

Then the moment has arrived to have a good de-clutter!

De-cluttering: what is it, and why do it?

Ever more people are deciding to follow a more sustainable lifestyle. It is a choice that can involve a wide variety of the aspects of daily life. Being sustainable can mean buying biodegradable products, following a zero-waste routine, buying locally grown and produced food, or giving up the car and taking the bike. Among the many things we can do, there is one that, as well as cleaning out our house, will help us to become more conscious consumers: de-cluttering.

De-cluttering literally means “removing unnecessary objects“, clearing out, re-organising to create more space. External space, in our houses (or offices!), but, especially, more internal space. This is a journey that, through a critical analysis of our lifestyle, has the aim of making us more free and leading us to reflect on what is really necessary and important for our happiness.

De-cluttering is also closely connected to environmental sustainability, because it relates to recycling, re-use and more conscious purchasing habits. So this is not simply throwing away what we don’t need, but also finding systems that allow us to optimise our resources without wasting them, and to give new value to objects that no longer serve us. Can’t wait to put order back into your life? Let’s start right away!

De-cluttering: where do you start?

The idea of simplifying life and reducing waste is wonderful, but initiating action is always difficult! Starting big, moving boxes and clearing out entire rooms, is a stressful operation that could turn out to be deleterious and lead us to give up on our goals. That is why we advise starting small, organising yourself in two phases.

Phase 1: decide on destinations

Prepare boxes to hold the items you have decided to get rid of. Here are some suggestions:

  • Rubbish: this is the box you should try to fill the least, but some things will inevitably end up here. Remember to sort all of your waste based on materials, following the recycling rules in your city.
  • Donations/To sell/To exchange: a lot of what you have could be useful to someone else. You can give items away through Facebook groups, or go to organisations or associations that need clothing, toys, books, tools. Schools, libraries, hospitals and charities that use donations are some of the organisations you can contact. Things you want to throw away could still be of value to someone: with the rise of digital music, do you no longer listen to CDs, and is your collection gathering dust? You could make a collector somewhere very happy! Flea markets or ads on websites for selling online are perfect for getting rid of comics you don’t read anymore, vintage items stored in the attic, and many other small treasures… and you can also earn something! Or, instead, if you want to organise an event that is really trending at the moment, you can hold a swap party and invite your friends: a fun way to spend time with others and exchange something you don’t use anymore for something you like, without spending money!
  • Repairs: some items only need to be cleaned or fixed to gain a new life. That pair of trousers you really liked, those glasses missing a screw, that stopped clock: give them another chance!
  • Undecided: you can put all the items you are unsure about in this container. Do you really want to get rid of that soft toy? And what if that recipe book ended up being useful? When you de-clutter, you will realise that it is difficult to decide straight away. Put these things to the side (without overdoing it!) and use the system we will suggest in the next paragraph.

Phase 2: Little by little

Now that your boxes are ready, you can start the real de-cluttering. A radical intervention is really difficult to keep up: better to start little by little. You can decide to dedicate half an hour a day to de-cluttering, or maybe think about it only during the weekend. Here is some advice on how to proceed.

  • In each “session”, concentrate on only five items: if you do this every day, in one month you’ll have 150 items less!
  • How do you decide what to keep and what not to keep? A question to ask yourself when you examine an object is: “Would I buy it again?“. If the answer is more no than yes, maybe it is time to get rid of it.
  • For clothes, there is a system called the “hanger rule“: hang your clothes inside out, and each time you use an item, hang it back up the right way round. At the end of the month, you will have a clear idea of what you have used and what you haven’t.
  • Take five minutes each week to re-analyse one of the items in the “undecided” box. This time, the fate of the item you pick up will be decided, once and for all: save it or eliminate it, but don’t think about it again.

The effects of de-cluttering

What can de-cluttering contribute to your lifestyle? It will certainly guarantee you more space in your house. Without items out of place, overflowing wardrobes or badly-organised cupboards, you will discover how much easier and more comfortable it is to make decisions on small, everyday things… and cleaning will be easier, too!

The most important thing, however, is not the final result, but the process itself: analysing, selecting and giving things up will help you to understand what is really important for you and your family. You will learn how to reduce unnecessary expenses to a minimum in the future, giving your taste a more definite form and allowing you to be more conscious when you choose which products to buy. It will give you freedom: a possible move, for example, will be much more practical. In short, this is the right way to start living more sustainably, both for the environment and for your wallet.







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