Hi I am new to zero waste and so desperately want to declutter my home-- we dont have many things already but i have two children and i am slowly trying to declutter with donations etc... i find that i am having trouble getting to the next step-- when it feels like it is actually decluttered.
Does anyone else have this problem?
Bea, what do you do with your children's art and papers they bring home, household paper work such as home files, important papers etc.?
I think I need a comprehensive list to go off regarding what I should keep and what is necessary...How did you start getting your home to the point it is now?
Hi, Lyn -- I think a checklist would be a good idea, and this is not that checklist, but to answer your question about first steps:
When it comes to going Zero Waste, I think most people are starting in the kitchen, since that is where the majority of our "disposable" purchases are headed. Bathrooms seem to be second.
There is also a blog and forum at unclutterer.com that talks about the decluttering process for all rooms of the house; it does not, however, focus on zero waste. I first found out about the Johnsons through a post in their forums with a link to the Sunset article!
im far from being decluttered but this is a pretty good referrence. she says to throw 17 things out everyday. (donate rather) mix and match decluttering techniques.
'queen of clean' has a book and there are others.
i picked up habits from my mom who did from her mom =who lived thru the great depression. both my grandmas actually were clutter bugs from the depression era. it took months to
go thru my grams stuff after she passed, and she lived in a one bedroom.
mine is mostly library books, thank goodness, that have another home.
baby clothes that are waiting to be traded with my cousin.
I've been thinking about this question more recently, because once I had tackled both the kitchen and bathrooms and had made those rooms as ZW as possible, I started to notice the other things I was purchasing and discarding. For me, these purchases pertained primarily to purses, luggage, organizers, furniture, and, oddly, a lot of handmade soaps. Your list could be different, but I think it helps to observe your own habits and make a list of your own tendencies.
I had already committed to not bringing home anything new without making way for it by getting rid of the old item it was replacing. But I still noticed I was buying too many of these things. Purses, for example. In each case, I had a legitimate reason for getting rid of them -- zippers kept breaking -- but I was disgusted with the quality that I could manage to break a $50 purse in 3 months. So my new commitment is this: for the items that I was replacing regularly, I am going to buy a very high quality item that should last a very, very, very long time, and that is the last one I am allowed to buy. Ever. For me, this means they should be made of real leather (for purses, shoes, and luggage) or real wood (for furniture). I realize there are those who would dispute the use of leather (and I love animals too), but from a waste perspective, it means the whole animal is getting used, and in the long run, less waste will be created than if I'd gone through 2-4 purses and a suitcase every year for the rest of my life.
(I'm also going to avoid things with zippers, except clothing. Can't really imagine jeans without zippers...)
Not sure how I'm going to limit the soap purchases, though. Still testing things that could replace bottled items (like JR Liggetts bar shampoo, and Buncha Farmers Stain Stick in lieu of stain removal spray).
Lyn - I had the same problem. My solution for all her artwork, paper certificates, and any other items from school/activities is too take a picture or scan the item if it fits. Then, each year I make a picture movie for her year and include all the artwork, awards, yearbooks, etc within the movie. She loves to see notes that she received, wrote, awards, etc mixed with pictures of her year. And, since we don't live near grandparents, they love to receive a copy of the disc and see all her awards, artwork, etc. As a final note on the disc, I use music that was her favorite during the year to make it that much more special to capture the moment. Hope it helps.
I have never had a problem with my purse breaking, however I did recently loose my purse. While making a police report of what I lost I realized how much useless stuff I carried around. Around that time I started reading this blog. I figured I could simplify my purse so I only had the essentials. What did I really need with me all the time.....my drivers licences, credit card, atm card, and some cash (some of the best places to eat at in the bay area, especially SF only take cash). So I found this wallet and it has met my needs perfectly. It even fits in "girl pockets" on jeans.
My wallet is similar to this style. I can fit my 3 cards in it perfectly. I will wrap the bills around a card and it fits perfectly into the slots. If i receive change I either put it into the tips jar or I put it in the ash tray of my car. Periodically I empty my change into a glass jar and when I have enough take it to a coin machine and cash in. I love the freedom of my wallet!
Paper organization: For this, I defer to the Kon Mari (Magic of Tidying Up) approach. My original approach was to just contain the school product, so we own several bins, 1 for each year of elementary school (only one child home). I haven't had the heart to KM the school bins yet but have made a good dent on the important papers and old personal files. Unfortunately, I have excess capacity in the form of a 38 inch wide 5 drawer lateral file cabinet which I love...hope this helped you feel less alone on this task. I also love the idea of creating a digital record or a physical collage of each year's creations.
One thing that I got my daughter involved in was submitting her product to the county and/or state fair. In MN submissions earn a token dollar amount so enhance keeping on hand at least the current year's worth of projects, artwork, creations. It also can be a way to bring kiddos into the discussion, "what x number of pieces of work do you feel are your best that you can share at the fair?"
As to the "are we finished yet" question, my sense is that as long as you continue to bring things into your home and grow out of, or exhaust what you own, you will be decluttering. And, that is not bad because it means you will be releasing things back into the world for reuse, recycle and eventually, rotting.
So, make it official and establish a small piece of real estate for those "decluttered donations" and periodically remove them to your thriftstores or to your garage sale pile. It has been one way I have made progress in reducing our possessions on a regular basis. As in when I do housework.