As I’ve gotten older and developed higher standards for how I choose to live my life, one important facet has been the organization structures I use to keep my home and office (mostly) tidy. It wasn’t until I began truly leaning into limiting the waste I produce regularly that I realized how integral organizing has been to my success. Organizing, as I’ve learned, is a great tool to help you reduce your trips to the garbage bin.
Organizing Helps You Limit Repeat Buying.
Have you ever gotten frustrated at not being able to find a particular item you're looking for at home or in your office, and rather than initiate a massive hunt through each room and every drawer you own, you simply run to the store and settle for purchasing the same item again? This was a trap for me every holiday season, when inevitably I could never find the scotch tape I needed to wrap presents. This led me to uncovering at least three rolls of nearly untouched scotch tape last December, much to my dismay. By placing items back in the same spot in your space every single time (and writing down where that location is, if you’re like me and are bound to forget approximately two days after choosing it’s location), you not only know where all your items are, you can find them again with ease and avoid the panic-stricken hustle to the store that we’ve all experienced. It also limits what will end up in the trash if you are using your resources wisely.
Organizing Helps You Take Inventory of What You Own and Use.
When we finally decided to brave the dreaded kitchen reorganization, my partner and I pulled out every piece of cooking equipment, container, and food item, scrubbed down the shelves, and replaced everything neatly in rows so that we could easily locate everything. Through this process, we eliminated a few items that we no longer needed, which we placed in a pile for donations, and then realized how much plastic we live with every day. Holy cannoli, it wasn’t pretty. We have decided to reduce our plastic intake whenever possible, and this was a rather rude awakening that we hadn’t exactly been succeeding at it. So we made a deal to begin shifting away from plastics like food-prepping containers and plastic-wrapped produce (really, who thought that was necessary anyway?) to items like glass jars and fabric produce bags. So every time we empty a glass jar of pasta sauce, rather than throw it in recycling, now we rinse it out and replace a plastic container with the new-to-this-use jar. Of course, we recycle the plastic container, but this ensures that we reduce the amount of microplastics that we’re exposed to on a daily basis. We would have never gotten to these critical steps of decluttering, reusing, and replacing without first taking stock of all the items we currently own.
It Helps You Appreciate What You Already Own.
Inherently, by organizing and giving each item a “home” in your space, you intentionally honor the material things you have in your life. Through this, it’s easier to choose to reuse and extend the life of your items rather than thinking of them as short-lived or single use goods. By choosing to appreciate what you already have, you can say no to using the garbage bin as frequently.
Let’s get real - lowering the waste in your life can be hard. But with some nifty tricks, like organizing your spaces to set yourself up for success, we can make those split-second decisions and daily choices to live more sustainability just that much easier. So roll up your sleeves and organize away!
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-Carrie Martin-Haley, founder