Clear clutter

Help! I’m hoarding for the environment

It’s the end of Week 2 of the Minimalist Game and I’m already reaping the benefits of less stuff. I’ve also come to an important realisation – I’ve been hoarding for the environment.

Hoarding for the environment

Most of the items that I got rid of this week were either:

  • once useful stuff I no longer require or is at the end of its life (eg. old baby bottles, broken safety latches)
  • potentially useful stuff that is too good to waste and might be useful someday but that I don’t think anyone else would want (eg. piles of plastic cutlery and paper napkins that come with takeout, used plastic bags).

Essentially, now it is rubbish, trash, garbage. Easy to let go of? Umm, well, no.

The guilt from Week 1 resurfaced. I have been trying to deny my wasteful ways by keeping stuff packed away in cupboards and drawers.

During the week, I stumbled across this article – Are you hoarding for the environment?  Yes, yes I am. Or I was. I’ve written before about how I’ve always had strong environment values but they’ve waned in the last couple of years. The decluttering process has highlighted to me that I still have these values and renewed my motivation to take action.

Help! I'm hoarding for the environment. My struggle to reconcile decluttering with zero waste. #minimalism #decluttering #zerowaste

I’ve decided to note the areas of waste that make me most ashamed and work out baby steps towards addressing them. I found some reusable mesh produce bags in the pantry and I have already put them into action at the supermarket.

Benefits showing already

I am already reaping the benefits of decluttering. This came home to me with a simple occurrence – my pre-schooler ripped a book. I located the book tape within 30 seconds and he was happily reading again in five minutes.

There was no big sigh from me at the prospect of wading through packed drawers searching for tape, no putting the book on a pile for another day, no feeling guilty, frustrated or overwhelmed, and no buying another roll because I couldn’t find what I was looking for.

Fixing the book was no big deal. Two weeks prior, the sad fact is, it would’ve been an ordeal. Seeing these benefits in everyday life has given me great motivation to continue.

Next steps

So what is next? This week my husband commented that what I was doing and calling minimalism looked a lot like what he called spring-cleaning.

In many ways he is right. Although from what I’ve said above, what could look like mere rubbish to someone else actually held meaning to me.

My reasons for playing the Minimalist Game were beyond spring-cleaning. I do want to move onto some of the bigger items around the house and that is on my agenda for Week 3.

Help! I'm hoarding for the environment #minimalism #decluttering #zerowaste

Week 2 Tally

Day 8 – 1 breast pump, 4 bottle lids, 4 teats (yes – I can’t count!)

Day 9 – 1 sippy cup, 1 bottle lid, 2 bottles, 2 broken safety clips, 3 teats

Day 10 – 1 toilet lid lock, 1 battery cover, 1 tube, 2 plastic keys, 5 medicine teats

Day 11 – 1 clip, 1 plastic key, 1 highlighter, 2 pieces of a piping set, 3 syringes, 3 plastic bottles I’d been keeping for crafts

Day 12 – 1 broken food cover, 1 broken safety lock, 1 pencil, 1 pen lid, 7 pens

Day 13 – 1 plastic tablecloth, 1 potato spiral maker, 1 tray, 1 bag of plastic cutlery, 1 pile of paper napkins, 1 set of cookie cutters (rusted), 1 empty box, 2 bags of plastic bags, 3 reusable shopping bags

Day 14 – 1 metal jug, 1 ceramic tile, 1 set of salt and pepper shakers, 2 glasses, 8 coffee mugs

I’m posting daily pictures of my progress on Twitter. You can find me under @AmyMoreTime.

Are you hoarding for the environment? Do you sometimes feel that minimalism is a bit at odds with your other values? How do you reconcile that?

No Comments

  • MrsKirstyHoll
    June 14, 2015 at 6:39 am

    Really glad you’re making progress 🙂 It’s so much fun being able to find stuff again 🙂

    • Amy
      June 14, 2015 at 6:42 am

      Thanks Kirsty. All my kitchen drawers open and shut without getting stuck. It’s great.

      • MrsKirstyHoll
        June 14, 2015 at 6:47 am

        The trick is to now learn not to shut them with so much force… 🙂

  • Fran
    June 14, 2015 at 11:20 am

    Hi Amy, this is a great post.

    I think the difference between spring cleaning and decluttering (minimising) is two fold. a. You go deeper and break the emotional attachment (sometimes with guilt), yet you continue and you shift the clutter out. b. you address the consuming and practices that got you to this place in the first place.

    I have been decluttering since last year and have at times felt sick about the amount of waste. I do try when I can to donate or sell but inevitably there is rubbish and landfill.

    The benefits as you are beginning to notice are awesome space, organisation, empty drawers, less time cleaning etc. However, the ability to live with more intention in relation to consuming and your impact on the environment I have found to be life changing. Some of my small changes are: I have not brought a plastic bag into the house since earth day, we compost all food and I now make things like jams, dips etc instead of consuming and wasting packaging.

    So I guess yes, it is difficult to reconcile. However, if you are reducing your clutter and then not consuming to replace it and you’re more intentional environmentally with your daily practice, your reduced footprint will eventually far outweigh the initial waste of decluttering.

    Good luck this week with your mins challenge.

  • rachsy
    December 6, 2015 at 2:44 am

    Hi Amy, thank you so much for writing about this. I, too, have a tendency to hoard items that everyone around me tells me to “just throw out” but I’m having such difficulty doing so that I think there’s something wrong with me. It’s things like cleaned yogurt containers, magazines, pieces of cardboard, ribbon scraps – they are all clean, and I keep thinking perhaps I can do something crafty with them but I just don’t have the energy to deal with it. Yes, the easy solution is to just throw them out but it’s really difficult. I just packed a bag of paper and cardboard to be put in the recycling bin (although I strongly suspect that they will end up in the trash anyway, my country’s recycling attempt is really bad) but yet I still have a pile of “pretty papers” that I couldn’t bear to throw out.

    Reading about someone else’s struggle with the same issue is really reassuring, at least I don’t feel so alone about it. Thanks once again!

    • Amy
      December 9, 2015 at 7:20 am

      Thanks so much. It’s so much harder when I have days like today when 1) I actually used a piece of ribbon that I had saved from around goodness knows what and 2) I used a thank you card from a packet leftover from my wedding – 5 years ago!


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