You’ve found your way to the Sustainability in Style ‘Tis the Season’ section of our ‘Take Action’ collection. This collection of posts and it’s home page are loaded with ideas on how you can take action this holiday season to reduce your negative impact on people and planet.
From reducing your food waste, to shopping for gifts in mindful ways, these tips should help inspire you to live life in Sustainable Style during the festive season (minus the overwhelm).
Some of the resources on this page date back to the beginnings of Sustainability in Style’s online journey as a personal blog. We acknowledge that ‘Christmas’ is commonly used in older posts due to our geographical locations (Australia) recognition of this holiday time. However, the term ‘holiday’ is now used as the season of celebration expands to be inclusive of other cultural and religious beliefs.
You’ve found your way to the action-based section of Sustainability in Style. The place and space that shares previous action adventures conducted in Sustainable Style.
Whatever it is that you value, we invite you to explore, connect, and tread a little lighter on our planet holiday season.
Celebrate this season with big love.
GOT SOME TIME OFF
The end of the year means holidays for some folks. While some of us are braving the holiday traffic and crowded beaches, others are at home tackling the mess that results from a year of living and working before the relatives arrive for the holiday celebrations. According to organising guru Christina Scalise:
“Clutter is the physical manifestation of unmade decisions fuelled by procrastination.”
Decluttering is good for the mind, body, and soul. Anyone who has seen an episode of the tv series Hoarders will agree that sometimes our excessive stuff can hinder our ability to live our lives in a happy, content, and functional way. While you may not have a house packed from floor to ceiling with ‘stuff’ (or old pumpkins…. which was something I saw on one episode of this show), there is probably no denying that there is one part of your home that may have a few ‘unmade decisions’ stashed in it.
STARTING THE PROCESS.
It can be pretty overwhelming to tackle a messy room. More often than not, we aren’t ready to make the final call on these unmade decisions. Many ‘clutter’ items have sentimental value or hold a specific meaning to us or symbolize a version of ourselves that we desire to be and perhaps haven’t had time to fulfill. It can sometimes be difficult to identify the clutter in our own homes for the emotional pull that it holds over us.
Sara Burford, the author of House Detox suggests that clutter can be defined as anything that:
- Doesn’t have a current or foreseen use or has gone past its use by date.
- You don’t like the look of (including unwanted gifts)
- Blocks, covers, or spills over into other areas of the house which would otherwise be utilised for other uses
- Is broken and either can’t or isn’t going to be mended
- Prevents you from living in an easily accessible, organised and structured way.
Now that you have identified what constitutes clutter let’s look at the best method for shifting the unwanted stuff. Burford suggests that you let go of the idea of getting all your decluttering done in one go. Attempting to tackle a whole house in one weekend or holiday break will likely just wear you out and result in a house that looks like a tornado went through the middle of it. She suggests that you shed your ideas of being the ‘perfect’ spring cleaner and tackle an area that is achievable for you in your given time. While I can’t share the whole book with you here (you can always buy or loan a copy)
I will share Sara’s fab questions to ask yourself through the decision making process:
- Why am I keeping this?
- Do I really want, like, or need this?
- Does this item deserve a permanent place in my home/life?
- What will I gain by keeping this?
- What will I gain by letting this go?
- Does this fit in with my life and who I am now?
- Am I keeping this for me or for someone else’s sake?
- Am I only keeping this because it looks good to other people?
- How many of this particular item of I actually need?
DECLUTTERING ISN’T ALWAYS ECO-FRIENDLY.
Let’s face it. Whatever has come into our home will have to go somewhere when it leaves our home. Throughout the year, Australian charities spend thousands of dollars each week disposing of rubbish and unsalable items “donated” or dumped at their op shops and donation bins (there’s a really interesting paper published here that’s a collaboration between charities and the QLD government). Money that should be helping those in need, not spent on rubbish removal. The Christmas / New Year holiday season is when the problem is at its worst. If you use your Christmas and New Year holiday period to declutter, be sure that you do it responsibly and try to give your unwanted goodies the most appropriate new home.
When donating to charity you should always do the following in order to be a responsible donor:
- Ask yourself, would you give this item to a friend in need (ie it’s clean, undamaged, good quality)?
- Donate direct to the op shop during operating hours or call to arrange pick-up for larger items
- Put rubbish and damaged items in your rubbish bin.
- Consider the season. Try to hold on to winter clothes to donate during the colder months. Cold weather clothes aren’t likely to sell in mid summer and most charities can’t store large amounts of out of season stock.
If you have large items like sofas and sporting equipment that you no longer require, online sales sites are a great way to re-home your goodies and make a little cash.
You could list your items on:
If you would prefer to trade or give the items away, you can use sites that work on gifting, or barter systems like:
It can start getting tricky to ‘eco-mindedly’ declutter when you get to broken, soiled or nonfunctional items. Many of us hold on to items like this because we either don’t know how to dispose of them or would like to have them repaired but don’t know where to get this done. If you are keen to have your item repaired, you can search your local area for specific repairs. It can be a little daunting, but in my personal experience, if you ask around long enough, you will find someone who can repair most items (be careful with electrical items, it’s a good idea to ring the manufacturer for details or use an authorized repairer). If you can’t find what you are after, list the repair details on Gumtree and you might find someone that way. For all other items, Planet Ark has developed an awesome app that helps you work out where to dispose of items in your local area responsibly. Recycle Smart is free to own and provides comprehensive information for every council area in Australia. It enables residents to search for both kerbside and drop off services for a huge range of materials on their phone or tablet.
TAKE THE HOLIDAY CHALLENGE
Obviously the best way forward is to avoid the clutter from the start. Establish open and honest communication lines with friends and family, and be sure that they know what you value. Avoiding the gift ‘necessity’ at festive times by discussing what you want and need can help reduce the clutter. Stocking stuffers may seem like a nice way to show someone you care, but realistically you are just wasting money, cluttering up the recipient’s home, and buying into a waste of natural resources. Keen to know what it is that you value? Why not take our Values Motivators Quiz and find out more.
VALUES MOTIVATORS AND CLUTTER REDUCTION
We know (and celebrate) that everyone’s approach to living life in Sustainable Style is a little bit different. It also means that we all have different approaches to decluttering in Sustainable Style. Here are some considerations based on our Sustainability Values Motivators approach to living life in Sustainable Style.
ANIMAL WELFARE AND COMPASSION
- Many newly identified Vegans will discard all their animal-based products. If you choose to remove these items (i.e. leather shoes, beeswax candles, wool sweaters), be sure to rehome them in a responsible way (not landfill). You might also like to consider wearing or using these items until they are no longer useful or repairable, replacing them with Vegan options.
- Give your old blankets, towels, and pillows to Animal Shelters.
- Use old fabric to make pockets or pouches used for animal rescue.
- Donate old business or formal wear to charities that offer to dress people for interviews, formals, or weddings who might not be able to afford these items themselves.
- Choose to give your unwanted items to charities that support social causes you care about.
- Host a garage sale. This allows you to socialise with people in the local community while decluttering. You might also like to get together with neighbours and have a street-wide garage sale.
- Find ways to repurpose or refashion old items to give them a new lease on life. This might mean turning old shoes into potted plant holders or fashioning an old pair of shorts into a grocery bag.
- Resist the urge to rescue everything you see on the kerbside. One of the downfalls of being Environmental Sustainability minded is that you can see value in other people’s trash. If you see something ‘free-to-a-good-home’, think carefully about whether your home is the right home.
- Do you hoard plants and other natural items? If you have more plants, feathers, or shells than you have space or time to look after them, be sure to rehome them. Plants make great gifts: return feathers, shells, or other natural items to the ecosystem from which you found them.
SIMPLICITY AND STREAMLINED LIFESTYLE
- Suppose you’re a busy person who finds yourself surrounded by a mess that causes you anguish. Consider hiring someone who loves to clean and organise to help you on a one-off or regular basis even if you work an extra couple of hours a week to pay for it. Coming home to a clean and organised home might be worth the investment.
- Is your desire for minimalism and time-saving costing the planet? While it’s nice not to hoard things you don’t need. Sometimes collecting a few bits and pieces (like saving the ribbon off a gift, keeping a container of elastic bands in your drawer, or saving the safety pins from garment tags) to upcycle or re-use can save time, money and sending items to the landfill. The tip here is to limit the number of these items you keep. Manage this by choosing to limit the amount of space they can fill (like a jar, drawer, or glass).
KISS ECO-OVERWHELM GOODBYE
Is Sustainably Stylish living during the holiday season got you feeling a bit stressed out? We’ve got you covered with FREE resources to help you combat eco-overwhelm.
Click here to find out about our unique approach to caring for your Sustainable Self (including our eight-part toolkit) as you live life in Sustainable Style.