We’ve all heard the phrase, “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.” For me, that’s something that’s been drilled into my brain since elementary school, at least. First, reduce your usage of environmentally unfriendly items, then try to reuse what you can, then recycle whatever’s left over.
But how do you know what you should reuse and what you should recycle?
This is the question that I think a lot of people get stuck on. It seems like just about everyone has at least one person in their life who has gotten in the habit of keeping way too much. They want to reuse everything that comes in their house so they’re not wasting it. In this frame of mind, just about everything is able to serve more than one purpose, which is great because it can stretch your dollar further. Unfortunately, there are plenty of examples of people who take this idea too far (think Hoarders).
My grandparents are definitely in this category. Being born shortly after the Great Depression ended, they were brought up to save as much as possible (because they simply could not afford to go out and buy more than was necessary). This need to keep things that might be useful has passed down to me, as well. My husband and I like to watch Hoarders and other similar shows to keep these urges at bay. Very effective.
If you notice these tendencies in yourself, cleaning up becomes much more of a chore than other people might think. You start out hoping to clear some space only to find yourself faced with multiple projects that you just don’t have time for right now. Before you set that item aside, ask yourself a few questions.
What are you going to do with it?
If you get the urge to keep something for reuse later, take a few seconds to think about what you’re going to do with it. If you can’t think of a specific use for the item, you probably won’t ever use it.
I find the most difficulty getting rid of crafty items. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve found small pieces of yarn that I’ve felt the need to keep. It’s not long enough to knit anything, and I’ve got lots of extra yarn, but I still can’t help the urge to throw it in a bin for later. Really though, what the heck am I going to do with like 4 inches of yarn? Nothing. I’ve gotten good at going through these questions reasonably quickly.
How are you going to do it?
Be honest with yourself. If you look at something and you think to yourself, “I know what I can do with this,” then you need to stop and think about the logistics. Do you have the skills and tools needed to complete this project? If you have to purchase materials for the idea, how much will they cost? Is it even worth it?
If you want to keep a rinsed out salsa jar because it’s a convenient size, but you already have 5 jars set aside and you can’t figure out how to get the labels off, you probably should just recycle that jar because you’re not going to get to it.
When are you going to do it?
If a specific project comes to mind, go ahead and keep the item, but only if you think you’ll get around to it soon (like, within the next week or two, ideally). Believe me, having too many projects lying around the house is stressful. Don’t put that kind of stress on your life, especially when you’re already dealing with the stress of balancing work and home.
The photo for this blog happens to be my stack of photos, ticket stubs, and other small tokens of our adventures that I’d like to one day put into nice photo albums (by the way, I’d never suggest getting rid of photos or memorial items). Having that large of a stack sitting around and waiting for me to get to it is very frustrating for me. As it is, I know that stack will take at least an hour to organize and separate into years. Not to mention scanning everything in, laying out pages on Shutterfly or Blurb, and importing everything. With all that in mind, I’m still keeping that as one of my future projects because that’s something that’s important to me.
I’m not saying that it’s going to be easy to change your saving ways. It’s something I’ve been having issues with for practically my whole life (just ask my mom!). It is something worth working on, though. Clearing your home of clutter and projects clears out the mind, as well, and can help your family live a happier, more stress-free life.
Have you ever found something that you just can’t bring yourself to get rid of?