How to Go Green With Silv: Clutter by Silvia Milanova, September 23 2016, 352 Comments

Photo courtesy of David Wheeler via Flickr.

Americans swim in clutter. And lots of it at that. At the end of 2013, the total self storage rentable space in the US was 2.3 billion square feet, according to a survey by the Self Storage Association. This is more than 78 square miles of inside space—an area more than three times the size of Manhattan. But this is not the bad news. The culprit is that of those renters, 65% have a garage in their home, but still rent a unit; 47% have an attic and 33% have a basement. So, in addition to those spaces, people need even MORE space to fit their stuff. What are we buying, America??

Unfortunately, we are buying clutter. Last week, I helped my mom prepare for a garage sale. And let me tell ya; my parents could sell 90% of the items in their house and they wouldn't even miss them—but they sure would notice. The house is full of stuff. Things in closets, in the garage, in the attic, in drawers, in cabinets, on shelves, things everywhere…

And yes, sometimes, among all this clutter, may be things you actually need—but with the excess and without proper organization, it’s hard to find even those items. So, why do we have so much stuff? Do we need all of this clutter, occupying our spaces and distracting our minds? The truth is, clutter can:

All of this “stuff” can take years to accumulate and can take the form of food, clothing, technology, house items, toys, furniture—you name it, anything in excess can become clutter. And although there is some scientific reason why we can’t let go of certain items—perceived value and emotional attachment—excess things usually turn to waste. This waste ultimately ends up in landfills, where it stays for years and pollutes the environment. Not to mention the money we spend on things we don’t actually need or use!

We often hear the words: reuse, reduce, recycle. But what I propose instead, is to rethink, rethink, rethink. Before making your next purchase, as minor as it may be, think long and hard if you really need the desired item. Ask yourself questions such as:

  • Do I already have something similar?
  • Will I use this enough to justify its cost?
  • Do I have space to store this item?
  • How will I dispose of this item once it’s no longer usable—is it recyclable, 'repurposable', etc.?

Think through these questions to help you decide if you really need or want something—because there is a difference.

Of course everyone perceives “too much” of something differently. Some people even need some organized chaos to accomplish their tasks. But if you think you can cut clutter and introduce some organization into your life, then check out best-selling author Joshua Becker’s Web site for tips on how to live a more minimalist life.

When you do declutter your home and have leftover possessions you would like to recycle, check out the RecycleNation Web site and app to find recycling locations near you. And I encourage everyone to buy less (save money!), reuse more and live less cluttered, less stressful lives!