Are trends like decluttering and minimalism harming the environment? At Livible, we were wondering if the recent trends towards living a clutter free life and minimalist home design might not be encouraging people to get rid of their belongings too hastily resulting in a massive waste of stuff that could easily be up-cycled instead. Enter, the Zero Waste Movement.

This movement, which has been verified as such by no less than the editor-in-chief of Martha Stewart living, challenges participants to reduce their impact on the environment by minimizing their personal and household waste.

What’s So Bad About Decluttering?

Don’t get us wrong, at Livible we agree that decluttering is great – it allows you to figure out those items that you really value and to showcase them in your space. Decluttering your home, your clothing or your garage can transform the way you live your life and relate to your surroundings in really positive ways.

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But, when we decide to go all Marie Kondo on our lives, there’s a chance we might “toss” a few things that would have been better recycled, or simply stored for a little while until we needed them again or until we have the space for them.

When decluttering because synonymous with wastefulness, that’s when there’s a problem with the practice. If your home is need of decluttering you’re absolutely not alone. To keep yourself away from the darkside of decluttering and minimalist design, ensure you aren’t tossing items you’ll regret not having in the future.

How is Minimalism Harming the Environment?

Often, people are inspired by minimalist design because they believe we’ve all become too bogged down with stuff. The idea is that a cleaner slate by way of a more sparsely furnished home provides necessary clarity and breathing room.

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Minimalist design rests on the idea that we’re too tied to our belongings. Also, that the planet would benefit from less of focus on consumerism and buying everything we see. Couldn’t agree more! We all do tend to have way too much stuff. But is getting rid of it really the answer?

Rather than tossing all of your belongings in pursuit of a minimalist aesthetic, think about how there are items you might not want around right now but which could be needed in the future. Those are the things you don’t want to toss. These things are what make minimalism so wasteful. If you get rid of items now that you’ll need to buy/replace in the future, you’re contributing to a cycle that produces far too much waste.

What is the Zero Waste Movement?

Bea Johnson, who is the author of the book Zero Waste Home: The Ultimate Guide to Simplifying Your Life by Reducing Your Waste is among a growing number of conscious folks devoted to reducing their impact on the health of the planet by reducing the waste they produce.

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Followers of the Zero Waste Movement abide by the Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and Rot mantra – which is a take on the more traditional Reduce, Reuse, Recycle of the past.

How Wasteful is Seattle?

The Zero Waste Movement show how throwing away your possessions isn’t necessarily the best way to help the planet or declutter your life. Even though Seattle is one of the most sustainable cities in the U.S., there’s a great deal more work to be done.

Like all American cities, Seattle is guilty of having a wastefulness problem. This is manifest in the amount of stuff we send to landfills every year. Seattle is nowhere near the top of any list of wasteful offenders, but we’re still producing tons waste going to landfills.

Should I Throw Out Old Clothes?

People often assume that if their clothes are unsuitable for resale in a thrift store that they must be thrown out. Luckily, this isn’t the case at all!

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Fortunately, there are other options which comply with the teachings of the Zero Waste Movement, and which can really help out the planet. Threadcycle is an option for all those items of clothing that might be damaged, stained, torn or whatever else. They accept all these items and recycle them into new clothing garments through some cool process you can learn about on their site.

Depending on why you’re getting rid of certain items there are few other options to consider. Is the problem that your closet doesn’t have enough space to hold your year-round wardrobe? Why not use short-term services like Livible and do seasonal storage of your clothing!

By rotating your wardrobe according to seasonal demands, you won’t risk buying more clothes than you need. This way, your closet can remain clutter free. Instead of buying a new wardrobe every season, use Livible to store your winter clothing during spring and summer or vice versa.

Should I Throw Away Food?

Wondering what to do about your food scraps, leftovers, expired items, etc.? The Zero Waste Movement has an answer: compost. Food contaminates many items that could otherwise be recycled. Often this contamination means nothing is recycled in that batch. Instead, it all goes into a landfill where it remains.

Compost has been a PNW tradition for a while now, but the rest of the U.S. is quickly catching on. Composting is becoming mandatory in many states, and increasingly seen as trendy in cities all over the globe.

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You can easily start your composting mission by getting onto your local waste management site and requesting the appropriate container. Or, by getting one yourself that is more suited to your design needs.

Does Zero Waste Costs More?

A common misconception about sustainability is that it’s all about hippy practices which wind up costing way more than the traditional habits we’re used to. When it comes to living a Zero Waste lifestyle, this couldn’t be further from the truth!

Actually, omany choose to commit to the Zero Waste Movement because it encourages saving rather than spending. Instead it emphasizes using what you already have and not buying things you don’t need.

That’s why Livible full service on-demand storage is the perfect companion to those looking to join the Zero Waste Movement.

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Livible’s services allow you to store what you need and for however long you need. And, you only pay for the space that your items use. You can rotate out things you already own instead of spending money replacing them after you’ve “decluttered” them by throwing them away.

The whole point the Zero Waste Movement is spending less on stuff and investing more in experiences. All the while, making a positive impact on the planet. There’s really no downside, except you might have to re-think where you’re getting your takeout and delivery from.

But even when it comes to takeout, many restaurants are hopping on the bandwagon and getting with the eco-friendly program. Increasingly, restaurants are offering recyclable or compostable containers in lieu of harmful products like Styrofoam and plastic.

When grocery shopping, find out which stores use the least packaging. You can also buy in bulk and bring along your own reusable bags before storing in glass jars at home.

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Where Can I Find Zero Waste Tips and Guides?

Another great thing about the Waste Movement? There’s no underlying rouse to get you to buy some book or t-shirt or whatever! If you’re looking for some inspiration, check out the book above or here’s a list of 10 great Zero Waste bloggers who offer support, ideas and guidance along the journey.

There are plenty of Zero Wasters who have whittled down their waste to what can fit in a Mason jar! A whole year’s worth of waste – those items that cannot be recycled or composted – stuffed into the a Mason jar. I’m pretty sure many of us just ate a lunch that used more waste than that!

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Getting as close to Zero Waste as possible is healthy not only for your wallet but for your waistline! Following the movement necessarily means more home cooking and time spent really thinking about what you’re putting in your body.

Unhealthy packaged snacks like candy bars and chips often come in non-recyclable or non-compostable packaging. That means you’ll have to think of snacking alternatives with less waste. Again, another upside of the Zero Waste Movement.

How Can I Start the Zero Waste Movement?

  1. Figure out what you can store with Livible
  2. Try to only buy second-hand, either at thrift stores or on sites like eBay, OfferUp and Etsy
  3. Get a compost bin and plan out your waste management
  4. Cut out single use plastics by using reusable utensils, bags, containers, and straws
  5. Make your own household cleaning products and use glass containers to cut back on plastics
  6. Read a guide on the Zero Waste Movement for further tips and tricks!

Get started by taking stock of items in your home and figure out what could be stored seasonally or temporarily to increase longevity. This way you don’t have to replace them as often.

The benefits of decluttering are real, but the Zero Waste Movement keeps the wasteful minimalism from outweighing its benefits. Sign-up for Livible and start the Zero Waste Movement today!