When Minimalism Means Trash

When Minimalism Means Trash

Today I’m answering an excellent question from one of my Instagram followers…  

I want to let go of my stuff, but I’m struggling with creating excess trash. How do I deal with this? 

This is an awesome question, and one that I hurdle every time I work with an in-home client, so let me guide you through my approach to minimizing sustainably. (If you’d prefer to watch a Facebook video I made about this, click here.)

FIRST, DONATE

Yes, you heard me. There is no reason to throw stuff in the trash if you can donate it. So find a place that takes a large variety of donations (Salvation Army, The Vietnam Vets,  and Goodwill are three of my favorites) and donate as much as you possibly can.

(And before you ask whether or not you should donate to Goodwill, read this blog post I wrote about Goodwill several years ago. I had the same question, so I called them up and asked for a tour. I think you’ll find it enlightening.)

SECOND, ACCEPT A HARD TRUTH: EVERYTHING BECOMES TRASH SOMEDAY

Ouch. But true. Hear me out.

We’ve all heard of the three R’s: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. However, most of us focus our environmental efforts on the last two: reuse and recycle. This is good, but…

REUSING AND RECYCLING ARE MERELY BANDAIDS TO THE MUCH LARGER PROBLEM OF OVERCONSUMPTION.

The moment we bring something home from a store (or Amazon oh-so-conveniently drops it on our doorstep), the trash cycle starts. Unless the item is compostable, it doesn’t matter how many times you reuse or recycle it. It will go to the trash someday. That could be today. That could be 20 years from now. But it’s going.

Again, ouch. I know.

But let me give you some hope…

YOU’LL DO BETTER FROM NOW ON

That’s right. Once you accept the hard truth mentioned above, you can make better choices about what you bring into your life, thus greatly reducing your impact on the environment. You might just need to forgive your former self who bought all that excess stuff. She didn’t know. If those items can’t be donated, put them in the trash with the understanding that you’ll do better going forward.

And you will.

How do I know?

My family of five produces about one kitchen-sized bag of trash weekly. I honestly don’t know if that’s a lot or not, but I do know that it’s much less than we used to produce when I considered “clearance!!!” to be total justification for whipping out my credit card.

Lastly, let me leave you with a resource.

EARTH911.COM

This is my favorite recycling resource. It has a recycling database where you can input your item and your zip code and it will magically tell you all the places near you that will recycle it. How sweet is that?

Alright, y’all… I hope that helps you navigate the tricky line of minimizing while being a good environmental steward.

So go forth and buy less. Mother Earth says thanks. 🙂 

As always, to your peace of mind,

PS Psst… my 6-week decluttering challenge starts soon! Click here for a sneak peek of what it’s all about…

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