If we declutter and get rid of stuff, isn't that being wasteful? If you don't want to be a wasteful person you need to hear this episode or read this blog post.
Are you excited that here in the northern hemisphere spring started yesterday or if you live in the southern hemisphere that it's fall, autumn now?
Yesterday was the equinox, the time when night and day, darkness and light, are totally equal.
Before we had artificial light, the light bulb, the equinoxes and the increase or decrease of light was a signal to the animals, plants, and the people of the changing of seasons.
So for us here in the northern hemisphere the light starts to increase now and nature will explode with growth and abundance. While in the southern hemisphere the light decreases and darkness increases and nature drops it's abundance, it's harvest time and then later the leaves are going to fall.
But what ever nature produces in abundance in spring and whatever she drops in fall is not wasted, it's either food for all living creatures or will become fertilizer for itself and other plants.
So in a way it's the perfect time to answer a question that I get quite a bit:
but Conny is decluttering not wasteful? If we get rid of stuff, that's wasting stuff, isn't it? ... and I don't want to be a wasteful person.
Lets see then if decluttering your life, your home, your business is really wasteful by going back to nature just for a sec. I said, nothing is wasted in nature it's a constant cycle and what ever abundance is too much gets transformed into something else and reused.
As a society we are wasteful
Humans are part of nature so from this standpoint we could say humans can't waste anything either, everything can be re-used in some way or another if we are intentional like nature is.
But we humans have kind of separated ourselves from nature and especially as a society we have become very wasteful on many levels. We produce too much, often for economic or political reasons not because we need it, I am talking for example about food.
I am part of a group who helps with food waste because I have chickens and it's mind boggling how much bread and produce ends up just in our little group. It hurts my heart when I see all this waste especially when I know there are people starving in our own communities, in our country, in other countries and on other continents.
We here in North America simply don't eat it anymore because it has maybe a brown spot on it or the food doesn't even end up in the store because it isn't the perfect size that some official in a government position decided it must be or what the tv advertisment tells us how it must look - photo shopped and all.
I read statistics that here in North America we waste between 40-50% of the food that is produced, how is that normal? Especially when we think that some of that food was a living creature before, an animal with eyes and legs and feelings, that had to give its life to become food for us and we just throw it in the garbage...
I could get totally into a rant about that but I won't....
There is another side to this
And so yes I agree, we as a society are wasteful, but there is also that other side to it.
- If you have a cluttered life
- if your home and office is full of stuff that suffocates you
- if too much stuff keeps you stuck and stressed out
not dealing with it is not being less wasteful than dealing with it, on the contrary, let me explain.
As I said, in nature there is a cycle, things get produced, things get used and what ever doesn't get used goes back into the cycle as fertilizer and to be transformed to be useful again. We can do something similar in our life but first, let's define "wasteful" and what we can do to make our life less cluttered which will, as a side-effect, also help nature and the planet.
Let's Define Wasteful
Let's look at it all from different angle because I say: yes, throwing stuff that still could be used by someone in the garbage is wasteful. But hanging on to stuff you don't love and don't use is just as wasteful! In addition, just buying stuff without the right intention is also wasteful.
Let's start with
a) keeping your life full of stuff
When I help my clients clearing clutter, there is really not that much that ends up in the garbage, not even in recycling. Most people I help don't have their house full of garbage, they have their house full of stuff they don't use.
So less wasteful is taking the stuff we have and don't love or don't use but is still usable in general, and giving it back into the cycle so it can go to someone who wants to use it and will use it, or maybe even love it. Depending on what the item is you might even be able to sell it and make some money back.
By keeping it on the other hand you are wasteful because if you have all that stuff in your life that you don't use, it's a waste to not use it, so less wasteful would be to pass it on to someone who can use it.
The effects of stuff you don't love and use
You also waste a lot of energy with this stuff you don't use. Having stuff costs you energy, like cleaning it, maintaining it, sorting it, just having it, it all uses energy, physical energy, mental energy, emotional energy.
If you spend that energy on stuff you love and use, that's fine, that's how life is. If you spend a big part of your energy on stuff you don't love and don't use, then that's a waste of your energy, because you could use that energy for something different, to do something for yourself, for your family, for society or for the planet.
Also because if we pass things on and more people would start to first try to get or buy something that is used rather than new, eventually we would automatically reduce the over-production of things. We consumers have that power.
Less production of stuff would help out nature and the planet, because we would 'waste' less of her resources, would not pollute her as much, and would have less garbage in the landfills too.
b) bringing stuff into your life
So then let's go to the other side, when the stuff comes into your life:
Being less wasteful is to be more intentional with what you buy and bring into your life which will also reduce the amount of stuff you have and save you money.
We can intentionally look for something that is used before we just buy it or for example order it on Amazon Prime. And just to be clear, I myself don't buy everything used, there is stuff I want to have new and you hear no judgment from me if you decide to buy something new.
What I would want for you is that you are at least intentional about what you buy, why you buy it and where you buy it.
You can ask yourself these questions first:
1) Do I really need to buy this item or am I trying to fill an emotional need that can not be filled with buying an item in the first place? (this is btw one big reason for clutter to accumulate)
2) if I want and need this item, could I borrow it from someone who has it? Because again, it could be wasteful to bring it into your life, you might only use it once or twice and then lose interest, or have no use for it anymore. Then you have it in your life and have to waste your energy on it until you get it out of your life again.
3) if I want to own this item, could I get or buy it used from someone who has it?
When you have explored those options and came to the conclusion you want to buy the item new only then buy it. That's bringing in stuff into your life with intention.
We all have a responsibility
We can look at this entire situation also in the sense of responsibility, the responsibility we are taking on when we bring something into your life
- the responsibility to not be wasteful, to only get it if we really want, need, love and use it.
- the responsibility for ourself and our energy, to not waste your energy on stuff we will don't really use
- the responsibility to dispose of it in a way that is not wasteful, like giving it to charity, giving/selling it to someone.
By just throwing it in the garbage and therefore landfill or even into recycling is not taking proper responsibility for this item that you brought into your life. (and just to be clear, I am not talking about broken and unrepairable stuff; I am talking about stuff that still could be used).
Back to keeping your life full of stuff
What a lot of people do refusing to take responsibility is, and that's why their life is so full of clutter, they keep the stuff in their home and life. They say they don't want to be wasteful but are not willing to go the extra mile to get it back into the cycle and to people who would use it.
But by keeping all that stuff they are also being wasteful as we just saw, and it's definitely not a solution for too much waste to create a landfill in our own home.
So in conclusion, not being wasteful starts way before the item is in your life and home and that's why I say decluttering is self-love
Only intentionally letting things into your life is self-love and also clearing the clutter is self-love and love and care for others and the planet. The best part is, a few minutes a day keep the chaos and clutter away.
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