Earth Day is coming up, and I wanted to do a post to talk about how organizing your home can actually be a way to help preserve the planet. What is your household’s impact on the community and environment? In this post I’ll give you recommendations for sustainable products and companies, ideas on how to waste less, and information about reuse and recycling partners. We’ve all heard “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle”, but “Refuse, Repurpose, and Repair” are 3 more “R’s” that you can keep in mind when you want to help the earth. It’s all about habit change. Before purchasing something, ask yourself if you really need it. By reducing consumption, purchasing less, and using it for longer, you’ll be contributing to the sustainability of the planet.
For some very eco-conscious people, their goal is to actually do LESS recycling. The trend is to purchase things with less packaging, so there is less material to recycle in the first place. It’s also possibly to become TOO eco-conscious, for example, stock piling dozens and dozens of margarine containers “just in case”. I know the company Ridwell has certainly helped a friend of mine who had been storing certain items that were past their prime. She wanted to recycle them, but didn’t know how. Ridwell is a local Seattle company that offers a specialty recycling service to recycle items like plastic film, Styrofoam, and fabric scraps that couldn’t be recycled through the conventional city recycling program.
If you’re wanting to improve your carbon footprint, it’s not about righteousness or feeling superior. The goal should be to do things to make it easier to reuse or recycle things properly. Be sure to check on your local recycling resources. Don’t contaminate the recycling stream. Policies change, and what’s true in one area may not be the same in another area. Recycling technology also improves. That’s why we can co-mingle recyclables when we used to have to separate them. Set up a system so taking donations is part of a sustainable part of life. Promote systems to reuse.
You’re probably already doing many things that can help preserve the planet. Below is a list of some ideas of things you could do that you may not have thought of. Or if you’re already doing them, you may not have taken the opportunity to pat yourself on the back for making an eco-friendly choice.
- Minimize purchasing dry clean only garments. Many dry cleaners use toxic chemicals that are harmful to the environment. Wearing these types of clothes less means less chemicals that will be used on your behalf. It will also help you keep up with your laundry chores since there will be fewer high maintenance items.
- Rent or borrow tools used irregularly instead of buying new ones. This will make it easier to organized your garage too. Less stuff!
- Install energy saving windows and appliances. This should help with chores as well.
- Drive and energy efficient car, and/or maintain the car you have, or use public transportation. Set up a system so that you’re regularly decluttering your car so that you’re not adding more weight to your load (and using more gas).
- Compost your food scraps. Organize your kitchen trash and recycle area to be able to accommodate a compost bin.
- Grow a vegetable garden. Even if you don’t have a backyard, you can grow herbs or sprouts!
- Purchase used items. Seattle ReCreative is a great place to get used art supplies (or make a donation of art supplies). Poshmark is a great place to buy/sell used clothes.
- Don’t buy more than you need. When your home is organized, you’ll know what you have, and where it is!
- Shop at home first. When organizing, look for containers that you already have at home rather than buying new items.
- Set up your home so that things can be recycled easily. I have helped many clients set up recycling stations so that they could collect Styrofoam, old electronics, and donations so that they could be accumulated in an organized way and recycled responsibly. If Ridwell is in your area, definitely consider signing up! It’s great for hard to recycle items like batteries, light bulbs, and plastic film.
- Reduce consumption at holidays. Choose to have an experience rather than purchasing a lot of material gifts. Not only will this help cut down on the amount of clutter that’s generated, it will create some meaningful memories.
- Use “green” household cleaners as much as possible. This will be good for your health too, as many harsh chemicals are also endocrine disruptors. It’s best to use ones that come in a concentrated version so that one small bottle can be diluted to last a very long time. My favorite surface cleaner right now is Doterra’s On Guard.
- Maintain what you have. Take time to condition your leather, to change the filter on your vacuum, and to get your car oil changed. Learn to mend your clothes if they need repairs. Not only will this process require you to slow down and get present, you’ll be able to develop a real appreciation for what you have.
- When purchasing new clothes, opt for sustainable brands like Pact and Toad and Company.
- Purchase reusable products such as lunch bags and water bottles. Organize your kitchen to make it easier to grab these reusable options rather than single use plastic.
- When you can, walk or bike to do your errands rather than using your car. When you do use the car, group errands together so that you’re not wasting gas. You may want to consider using a car organizing system so that you’ll always have what you need in the car.
- Organize your kitchen so that it’s easier to cook rather than order takeout. Takeout food is usually not the healthiest, and generates tons of waste. Many times, the messy kitchen bottleneck is that no one wants to unload the dishwasher. This task usually takes 5 minutes or less, and once it’s done, makes it very easy to maintain the cleanliness of the kitchen. What will it take to develop this habit?
- Minimize food expiration and refrigerator waste. One good way to do this is to cook at home rather than letting food go to waste while you order takeout instead. Take inventory of what you have in the fridge on a regular basis.
- When you do eat out, bring your own reusable containers for your doggy bag.
- Instead of using an air conditioner, open windows for fresh air flow. This is also great for helping move any stuck energy in the home.
- Use Beautycounter products on your body. These are responsibly made, highly concentrated, effective personal products that are made from clean ingredients. The results are unmatched! New clients get 20% off their first order for all of April (code: CLEANFORALL20). Shop my site here.
What are some of your favorite eco-friendly products? Or what habits have you developed help preserve the earth?
Send me a message, I’d love to hear about it!
By Jean Prominski, Certified Professional Organizer
Download my free 5 week journal The Seattle Sparkle Method to Get Organized and Stay Organized
Sign up for my free 4 Day Color to Declutter Challenge.
Become part of a like-minded community by joining my Facebook Group, Declutter and Organize with Seattle Sparkle.
Ready to book a consultation? Complete this form.