Living a minimalist zero waste lifestyle is an aspiration for many people - but it can be hard to motivate yourself when your space is filled with things you don’t need. If your home is cluttered and messy, quarantine is the perfect time to start clearing out unnecessary belongings.
Be careful when you’re having a huge declutter, though. Often we can be so desperate to live a zero waste lifestyle that we end up throwing away all our unwanted things - but that causes a huge amount of waste in itself. Here’s our guide to having an eco-friendly declutter.
Clothes, ornaments and items
If your wardrobe is overflowing with clothes and your shelves are full of old ornaments gathering dust, it’s time to sort everything out. Sort your belongings into piles - if you haven’t worn or used something in six months, it’s not something you need to keep. Be realistic and real with yourself about what you actually use on a day-to-day basis.
When you have your pile of unwanted belongings, carefully think through how you want to dispose of them. Do not simply put them in the bin - adding to landfill is one of the worst things you can do.
- Regift - If possible, regift items and quality clothing to members of your family or friends who will give them a new life
- Repurpose - Try your hand at some DIY. Grab some scissors and sewing materials, and try to customise your old clothing by cutting off sleeves, shortening the length, adding some embroidery and more
- Donate - If in doubt, the best thing you can do is to donate your belongings where they’re needed most. Find local charities and charity shops who are in need of donations
Food and drink
Kitchen cupboards full of old tins? Make sure you clear through your cupboards, pantry, fridge and freezer every few months to ensure things aren’t building up in there.
- Donate - Take any unwanted tins, cans and jars to soup kitchens and food banks, where they can give the food to those that truly need it. Items like dried pasta, oats, rice, beans and grains are perfect, too - just make sure the food items are still in date.
- Repurpose - If you’ve found out of date food, some of it can be used for other purposes. Fruit, vegetables, peel, coffee grounds and egg shells can all be used in your garden as compost and fertiliser for plants.
Clutter can easily build up in your bathroom - and most beauty products are only fresh for 6-12 months. After that time, they can actually start to do more damage to your skin than good, so it’s important to have a regular clear out of your bathroom products.
- Use up what you can - Before you start to buy lots of new stuff, make sure you’ve used up absolutely everything you can. Don’t be tempted to buy a brand new shampoo if you already have five half-used bottles - make the most of everything you have to ensure you’re not creating unnecessary waste.
- Donate - If you have unopened shampoos, toothpastes, shower gels and soaps, you can donate these to charities, shelters and food banks where needed.
- Find new uses - Instead of chucking away empty bottles and jars, clean them thoroughly. They can be reused for storage, and taken to zero waste refill shops.
A final note on throwing things away
If you want to start a minimal, zero waste lifestyle, it can be tempting to throw all your old wasteful products away. This is just contributing to landfill and creating so much pointless waste. Instead, make sure you use up everything first, and dispose of it in the most eco-friendly way possible when you’re finished with it.
Once you’ve had your big clear out, shop differently moving forward. Rethink your shopping habits - choose zero waste options, don’t buy things you don’t need, and support ethical local businesses wherever possible.