I wish could tell you that conquering clutter is as easy as “five simple steps” and enjoy the before-and-after photos. But it isn’t. Conquering clutter is all about changing the way it enters your home and then it’s about cultivating a constant habit of letting things go. In the olden days people had a ‘spring clean’ in spring and they would clear out the house from top to bottom. Nowadays our rate of consumption means we constantly need to build the habit of decluttering into daily life.
One way of practicing the habit is to declutter something each day for a month. By doing this we are teaching our minds to recognize clutter and incorporating the skill of “letting it go” into our everyday lives. Doing a small decluttering task each day will help develop that habit. Here is a 31-day challenge for you to get started on conquering the clutter.
At the beginning of the month put a basket by the front door for donations and returns. Each day check the list below and where relevant, ditch or donate the listed item/s:
- Old mobile phones. According to Mobile Muster, there are an estimated five million broken or no-longer-working mobile phones going to waste in drawers, cupboards and storage boxes across Australia. Each contains valuable materials such as gold, silver and copper that could be recycled and made into new products, reducing the need for us to extract them from nature (source: https://planetark.org/newsroom/news/the-shocking-number-of-phones-waiting-to-be-recycled-how-many-of-them-are). So have a search through those junk drawers and next time you’re at the supermarket, drop it in the recycling bin provided.
- Lids without containers. Don’t keep them! Check for the recycling triangle and recycle or trash accordingly.
- Earphones. If they are still in packets in the back of junk drawers, bets are you’re not going use them. Put them in the donate basket by the door. Broken and used ones can be recycled at any e-waste drop-off point.
- Odd socks. Sort that odd sock basket and let them go. If its 100% cotton it can go in your compost.
- T-shirts with holes in them. You know, the one or two that you avoid putting on each time you go your drawer or closet? Again, if it’s 100% cotton it can go in your compost or put it in the cleaning closet and use it as a rag first, or just let it go.
- Holey undies. Same story.
- A book. Whether it’s one you borrowed from a friend two years ago and need to give back, or one you’ll never read again, pop it in the donate basket, declutter at least one.
- A CD/DVD/Cassette/USB.
- An unused kitchen appliance or utensil. That bread maker or garlic peeler.
- An out-of-date spice.
- A toy. Those Maccas Happy Meal toys from six months ago won’t be missed.
- An old catalogue. Why keep it when you can recycle it?
- 13. A old piece of paperwork. Do the job that needs doing for it or just throw it away.
- Clear off the front of your fridge. Are you still displaying last year’s calendar? Outdated invitations? Free up some magnets!
- An old pair of shoes, or a shoe with no pair.
- An expired snack. When you head to the pantry to get that evening snack, have a quick glance and toss the ones you have been avoiding for the past six months.
- A mug. Have a quick look at your mugs when you make your next cuppa and get rid of any chipped ones, or put ones you never use in the donations basket.
- Empty your wallet of receipts. Bin or file them
- Unused bakeware. How many loaf tins does one really need? If it’s in good repair, put it into the donations basket. If it’s dead you could donate it to a school for their mud kitchen.
- An unused vase. How many vases does one really need? Easily donated.
- Unused sports equipment. Those dumbbells that you haven’t used, that deflated ball, that bike that the kids have long grown out of. Be like Elsa and let them go.
- Unused toiletries. When brushing your teeth, have a quick look through the bathroom drawers and cabinets for any toiletries you haven’t used. If they are unopened and still good you could donate them to the local women’s shelter.
- Old chemicals. Have a quick glance in your chemical cupboard and I’m sure you will find a magic potion that promised it would clear away dirt with ease, but didn’t. Throw it away. Move on from that broken promise.
- An old jumper. If it’s still in good condition: donate.
- An old magazine. That Better Homes and Gardens magazine from 2015 is probably past its use-by.
- Expired medicine. Dispose these at your local chemist.
- Pens. Dried up, ones with no lids – Officeworks recycle old pens and some councils collect them for recycling too.
- Tea-towels. Go through your tea towels, and let go of any you don’t use or that are beyond used.
- Your bedside drawer. Often our beside drawer becomes a dumping ground. Give yours a clear-out, see what treasures you find, then ask if they belong there.
- Hats and caps. Donate if they are good to use.
- Old chopping board. That wooden one that’s cracking apart, or the ones you never use. If it’s in good shape donate it, if not you might be able to recycle it.
The purpose of this challenge is to develop the habit of recognising clutter and getting rid of it. We can be waste-conscious about how we get rid of it. For example: recycling what can be recycled. Repurpose old clothes as rags first, but you don’t need 50 rags so give yourself a limit. Donate or even sell good second-hand items. However, the aim is to make sure the items are truly gone and removed so they are no longer cluttering up your space. Building in the habit of regularly decluttering means that clutter won’t build up so quickly, and when it does, we have the chance of conquering it.
A word on donating: when donating an item please make sure that it is in good repair and not rubbish. Charities are spending a fortune on rubbish removal each year because of ‘donated goods’. Please be mindful of this.