Responsible decluttering: an honest conversation

I will never forget how much of the stuff in my home was not donatable, and no one wanted.

I am not a zero waste person, and I do respect that life. It's just not for me right now. However, I do believe I am one of the least wasteful people I know because I have experienced the reality of watching all of my stuff turn to trash. A big part of how I do this is responsible decluttering, and sometimes the most responsible way to declutter is to trash it. 

Many of us want to donate, recycle and reuse our things for noble reasons, but there is a big flaw with this if we don't also declutter

If we don't ever see how much overconsumption we have contributed to in the first place, we will never stop. 

I believe it is virtually impossible to even know how much we have if we keep it hidden in the closets, shelves and corners of our homes. Which leads us to continuing to overconsume and never getting to the root issue of overconsumption.

Donating makes us feel good, but it allows us to avoid the pain of waste we created when we bought things we didn't need 

If you're like me you have probably donated, or told your family that you donated to a worthy cause. This is great, and I always advocate for generosity. Here's the thing though, it's not generosity if we are just pushing our stuff onto other people and making it their problem now.

Have you ever been a clutter scapegoat? The thing that happens when family or friends enthusiastically give you all their unwanted stuff and make it sound like they're doing you a favor? Responsible decluttering means taking ownership of where you take your clutter, and who you give it to.

I have. Also, I have done it to other people. 

Because I didn't want to face the fact that I had over-consumed and had been irresponsible with my money, and resources. It feels better to be the hero and give my family and friends stuff I don't want. Slow wink.

Have you ever noticed the dumpster behind the donation centers?

Statistics show that up to 80% of what is given to donation centers ends up in the landfill before it even makes it to the shelves to be sold. 

This is not a solution for overconsumption, and your clutter is still ending up in the landfill. 

Much of this stuff is not usable, sellable or even reusable or repurposed. So we take it to the thrift stores, or even donation centers and make it their responsibility to trash our stuff. 

Responsible decluttering means paying attention to when we are making our clutter someone else's problem, but putting a pretty bow on it. The damage has already been done, so don't think you just have to keep it all forever. 

What happened when I painfully watched much of my stuff go to the landfill (because the only donation center near my stopped accepting donations from me) was a new way of mindful consumption.

I am mindful now about what I purchase. We have very little waste in our home. My kids wear out their clothes most of the time. If they don't then we donate them. 

So, yes. It really sucked to take that all to the landfill but now I have the rest of my life to be a part of the solution and NOT overconsume.

If I was still drowning in clutter I know I would still be massively overconsuming. I also would still think that I didn't have enough, and needed more.

Clutter skews our perspective of what we have, and need. Too much stuff is our problem, not “not enough”. Clearing out your clutter allows you to have clarity on what you have, how much you have as well as how much you really need. 

My family and I decluttered our stuff down to one suitcase each. Trust me when I say you can let it go, and have enough. We never went without after we decluttered, and as wild as it sounds I felt like we had more without the burden of all the stuff crammed into our home. 

If you want to learn how to declutter your stuff, and become a part of the solution for the overconsumption issue we have here in the industrialized world get into Decluttering Simplified. Don't worry, we aren't extreme and think you need to have nothing. We just want to find that balance between enough, and not too much. 

Quality versus quantity and using what you have! Plus a whole lot more!

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