There’s always a lot of talk about decluttering as the Solver of All Woes. We’re told that if we throw out a lot of stuff, we’ll be happy.
That’s not incorrect per se; I truly believe that with less stuff comes less complexity and stress, but decluttering is a medium-term benefit, not long-term (and organising is short term!). By decluttering, we are ridding ourselves of all the things that weigh us down and complicate our lives. But if that’s the only thing we do, then we’ll have to keep decluttering forever, and we’ll still have big impact on our environment and culture.
What is better is a change in acquisition habits over the long term. What we don’t buy today, what we don’t get given as gifts, what we don’t grab on sale, what we don’t “save” from kerbside waste, will not need to be decluttered later.
The items we choose to repair instead of discard, to purchase from ethical and sustainable suppliers, to buy based on the material’s end-of-life destination, to buy second-hand, will not end up in landfill at the same rate it will for lesser quality goods.
So yes, declutter, but also please, put into action some new habits and lifestyle changes so that in five years time, you’re not still decluttering madly nor sending a lot of unnecessary items to landfill.
Some habits to try could include –
- only buying what you need
- avoiding sales
- saving up for things instead of using a credit card
- largely ignoring clothing and decor trends (they’re just there to make you consume more and then you produce more waste)
- buying fewer items that are higher quality, repairable, and are produced ethically and sustainably
- giving experiences as gifts
- not accepting “free stuff”
- buying second-hand when you do need something
- showing your love with presence instead of presents
- avoiding the “disposable” mentality
- keep things until they fall apart or are no longer serving you, not just because there’s a “newer” version
You don’t need to be “perfect”, and do all these things (I certainly don’t always) but any small attempts you make now will reward you and our planet significantly in the future.