This is a special guest post by OLCV member Alice Robertson, owner of Tidy Home.
Marie Kondo is all the rage right now. Thanks to the overnight success of her hit Netflix show, Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, the home improvement author has inspired countless people to declutter their homes. Kondo specializes in organizational techniques that tidy up the home and ease the mind. After all, she invented the KonMari Method, which encourages people to simplify their lives by removing objects that no longer bring them joy.
Of course, KonMari is just one method of eliminating clutter and the stress that it brings. Whether you’re downsizing, moving, or just looking to make your home feel fresh and clean, there are many eco-friendly ways to tidy up your living space. Here are four techniques you might try.
A common mistake many people make when downsizing, even when following Marie Kondo’s Japanese organizational methods, is that they never pause to consider what happens to their unwanted items after they get rid of them. Sadly, most of the world’s plastics – including some “recycled” plastics – end up either in landfills or in our oceans.
Rather than tossing items in the dumpster or recycling bin, try to mindfully consider how you’ll keep those items from harming the environment after they leave your home. For instance, you might donate the items to a nonprofit, shelter, or charity benefiting people in need. According to Gumtree, if you have items you no longer use that are still in good condition, you can participate in the second-hand economy and sell them online or in a yard sale.
In some cases, particularly if you have items that you can’t sell or donate but want to keep out of the landfill, the best option is to use a storage unit. If you are trying to clear clutter in your home and want to avoid contributing to the junk epidemic, a self-storage unit is a great choice, and they don’t cost a fortune. Over time, you can parcel out removing items or even find ways to donate or sell them.
Go Digital to Go Green
When you think about going green, technology probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. Believe it or not, though, going digital can have many positive effects on the planet. For instance, digital records help save our trees and forests by reducing the amount of paper we consume.
By scanning photos, tax files, and other important documents, you can eliminate clutter in your home while also helping the environment — and you have a digital backup in case anything were to ever happen. Just about anything can be stored in “the cloud” these days. If you have extra boxes of papers around your home, why not scan them to your computer and shred them? You’ll be helping your home and Mother Nature at the same time. If you don’t have a scanner, a document-scanning service typically can do the job for $.07 – $.12 a page.
One of the key arguments against Kondo’s KonMari Method is that it calls for ditching any item in your home that does not “spark joy.” If taken literally, it’s easy to imagine how the KonMari Method could result in a frightening amount of trash, furniture, and other discarded items being sent to landfills around the world.
However, there are ways to implement KonMari with a thoughtful, eco-friendly approach. For instance, rather than tossing items that no longer bring joy to your life, you might consider donating, regifting, or recycling the items instead. Additionally, as The Guardian points out, you don’t have to follow Kondo’s less conscious advice. According to Kondo’s book, articles of clothing should be tossed out as soon as their buttons start popping off. On the contrary, a recent report showed that extending the lifespan of our clothing is one of the single biggest ways we can each do our part to help the planet. The bottom line: if you follow KonMari, take Kondo’s advice with a grain of salt, a needle and thread, and a willingness to donate or recycle items instead of tossing them into the trash.
Green Cleaning Products
Once you’ve decluttered your living space, you’re ready to begin the process of cleaning and sanitizing your home. You can hire a cleaning service, or you can do the job on your own. Whichever you choose, make sure your space is cleaned with green cleaning products. Not all home cleaning products are created equal, and, sadly, even some of the products that advertise themselves as “eco-friendly” are still harmful to the environment.
So, how does one go about choosing cleaning products that actually do help the environment? For starters, stick to all-natural, organic products. Try to avoid cleaning products that contain harmful chemicals, which may be toxic. Believe it or not, the EPA has listed nitrogen, phosphorus, ammonia, and other ingredients in many household cleaners as hazardous to the environment. Meanwhile, you’d be surprised at the cleaning powers of safe, natural alternatives like white vinegar, lemon juice, water, baking soda, and even some essential oils. Because manufacturing processes can often harm the environment, try to purchase small batches of locally made products whenever possible.
When it comes to cleaning, consider investing in a quality vacuum. Cordless vacuum cleaners can be an excellent choice because they are lightweight, easy to maneuver, and effortless to store. Because they don’t have cords, there are no tripping hazards. Best of all, vacuuming will take less time and a new model help you stay motivated to keep your home clean. And if you get a top-rated appliance noted for longevity, it’s one less thing you’ll have to throw away sooner. If you’re a pet owner, you’ll want a vacuum that removes hair and allergens; many of these vacuums come with special attachments for cleaning furniture.
Move over, Marie Kondo! It’s easier than ever to declutter your home and live a minimalist lifestyle. Thanks to the green techniques listed here, you can organize your living space while also being mindful of Mother Nature. Now, you can ease your mind, help your wallet, save the environment and keep a tidy home, all at the same time.