The 6 Rs of Eco Organizing
Updated: Feb 10
I can vividly remember my elementary's school annual assembly which always happened either on or around Earth Day. Being that it was the 90s, scientists in white lab coats would teach us about the importance of saving the planet via cartoons and rap musical shorts in the hopes of connecting with the youth of the day.
Honestly, I don't remember much of what they would tell us, except for the 3 Rs;
Reduce, Reuse & Recycle.
But did you know that those are just the tip of the iceberg? We as a society could do so much more to make the earth happier with little to no extra effort!
Last week, I posted an article on 10 Household Changes to help the environment to help bring awareness to what we as homeowners and consumers can do to help reduce waste while creating a positive correlation between the environment and your home.
One of the items I mentioned was the 6 Rs. It wasn't until I became a Professional Organizer that I learned there were 3 more ways we can do our part for the environment while reclaiming our homes.
What are the 6 Rs?
Everyone who grew up in the 80s & 90s can thank Captain Planet and the Planeteers for teaching us that it's cool to care about the environment. After all, there is no Planet B! 🌎
Building upon that foundational knowledge we gained as children, there are 3 additional ways homeowners & Professional Organizers can help reduce our personal carbon footprint!
The simplest way to help reduce your impact on the environment is by limiting the number of items coming into your home. This can apply to groceries, or any household item you would normally purchase at a store. Making fewer trips to the store produces fewer emissions, shrinking your carbon footprint!
Additionally, food waste accounts for the highest percentage of garbage accumulated by homeowners. To help reduce this, be sure to properly store food items to prevent rotting before use. or, if you are capable, start a compost!
How does Organizing help? Working alongside a Professional Organizer or taking the time to organize your pantry/space in your home, will help you identify items you need to restock instead of over-purchasing. Creating a household inventory, be it a list in the kitchen, or on your computer, is a great tool to monitor the items you do/don't need (and great for creating shopping lists too!).
Before making a trip to the store to buy new items for your home, look to see if there is a reusable solution in your home already that meets this "new items" purpose. Our current society is built as a disposable consumer culture, meaning that items purchased from stores (or online) are not meant to last long-term. By using items that are reusable such as cloth shopping bags instead of single-use plastic, you'll be saving money while also helping the environment.
How does organizing help? Taking the time to organize a space allows you the opportunity to inspect every single item. While completing this exercise, you will likely come across items that can be replaced with reusable ones to not only reduce the number of items in your home but also save you money long-term!
A key element to remaining environmentally conscious outside of the home is to shop mindfully. What does this mean? To put it simply, everything brought into the home should have a purpose. Retraining your brain to consider these factors while out shopping may take some time, but once you re-evaluate your relationship with how you shop & how you live in your home, you'll start to see positive results!
How does organizing help? As a Professional Organizer, one thing I ask my clients before we start decluttering is to tell me their ultimate vision of the space. Not only does this give us a goal to strive for, but it helps in identifying the items that are kept/donated. This same practice can be applied when out shopping. Internally ask yourself the question do I have a purpose for this item in my home? If the answer is yes, then bringing it into the home is not a waste (of money or space) and is worth the investment.
Instead of unused items ending up in a landfill, strongly consider donating these items to either a local charity, shelter, or thrift store. Not only are you reducing the number of items going to landfills, but you are helping out your community by providing these items at reduced prices and in an accessible location.
Additionally, do not be afraid to re-gift unused/unopened items to friends/family instead of buying brand-new ones. Instead of the item cluttering up your closet or basement unused, it will be given to someone who needs it without costing you any extra money!
How does organizing help? When decluttering a space, it is likely you will come across items that you no longer want/need/meet your style/aesthetic. If these items are still in really good condition, unopened, or nonperishable (and not past their expiry date!) research donation options in your local area to bring these items. If you're looking for inspiring ideas on what to donate, read this article to learn more!
Before hopping in your car and going to the store to buy new, consider upcycling items you already have in your home. For example, if you are looking to transition items in your pantry to glass jars, instead of buying new jars at the store, see if you can repurpose any jars sitting in your recycling bin from used food items. Repurposing items will reduce personal consumption of consumer goods, saving you money & the environment.
How does organizing help? As a Professional Organizer, I enjoy repurposing items that I find in the Client's space to meet their ultimate goal. The most common items are baskets/boxes that are now empty since the items that lived there were removed. I prefer repurposing these over buying new ones whenever possible. It feels amazing to bring a sense of purpose back into these long-forgotten items!
Recycling is one of the most common household activities homeowners do on a regular basis, but it is important that you recycle items mindfully, to prevent them from ending up in the landfill. Make sure you abide by your local recycling regulations when discarding items to maximize the number of items that will be recycled!
How does organizing help? When looking at items to declutter, check and see if there is a way to safely recycle and/or dispose of them without causing damage to the environment. For example, electronics cannot be mixed in with your normal food recycling and require a special disposal process. The more items you can identify as recyclable, the more likely they will be recreated into a new product.
Now that you have more insight into the 6 Rs of Organizing I challenge you to try and implement these in your home & daily routines. Even the smallest change will make a large impact!
About the Author: Brittany Smith lives in Ottawa, Canada with her husband and feline furbaby Zoey. She is a Certified Professional Organizer, Owner, and Founder of Control the Chaos, a Professional Organizing business that provides personalized in-home, virtual and digital organizing services aimed at transforming anyone's chaos into calm.