5 tips on how to declutter and enjoy a greener lifestyle

There are many benefits to decluttering your life and your home. But it’s not just about having a perfectly clean home or reducing your attachment to material possessions. Owning fewer things also helps to save our planet.

 

  1. Buy less stuff! Buy second-hand

Most of what we throw away could be used by other people. Charity shops, boot sales and jumble sales provide a great service in giving our unwanted items another lease of life.

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2. Refuse packaging when possible

Virtually every time we go shopping we are offered over-packaged items. Try to source loose items rather than prepacks or blisterpacks packaging. Your local greengrocer or farm shop are much more likely to supply loose and fresher fruit and vegetables, while local butchers typically use greaseproof paper which can be recycled or composted, rather that the plastic containers from the supermarket. In Germany, people routinely remove excess packaging at the checkout for the shop to sort out.

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3. Buy Quality Goods when you can

One way to reduce the rubbish you put in your bin is to buy better quality products. Something really well made by a local craftsperson is going to become something to treasure for life, will help support your local economy and , besides will outlast cheaper, inferior products. Avoid goods that won’t last. You can also pick up bargains at second hand shops, furniture reuse projects and auctions to. Why not swap your unwanted items for something you do want? Try www.freecycle.org—it doesn’t cost you anything and you can then get something you need, even if it is a bottle of wine or some chocolates. Some designers now talk about anti-obsolescence: meaning designs that are easily repaired, maintained and upgraded so they are not made obsolete by changes of technology or taste.

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4. Avoid anything you can’t reuse or recycle, where possible

For instance, many household and garden chemicals should not be disposed of in the dustbin. If you use materials which can be recycled or composted, then you aren’t left wondering what to do with a toxic substance.

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5. Refill

Wherever possible, buy products in refillable containers. These include a range of soap products, washing-up liquid, washing machine liquid, multi-surface cleaner, cream cleaner etc. These items are most commonly found in local health food shops, check with your local store if they offer this service. Some food shops also do a wide range of loose food products (and they’re often cheaper), so that you can take what you need with minimal packaging – even bring your own. There is a great store in London called “Unpackaged” which sell everything loose and even provides reusable containers (at a cost) if you forget to bring your own. Check out www.beunpackaged.com for more information.

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Adapted from Nicky Scott’s Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

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