Reduce, Reuse, Recycle – Without Losing All Your Storage and Creating Clutter

A popular mantra of Earth Day is the catch phrase Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. To reduce the human footprint upon our planet we are called upon to Reduce (use and buy less), Reuse (what we already have) and Recycle (the little that we use over and over). On trash day in my neighborhood, most recycle bins are filled to the brim. That part of the three R’s is the easiest and we do a pretty good job (based on my observation at least) with recycling. It’s the other two R’s – Reduce and Reuse – that folks find to be trickier.


To foster the first of the three R’s – Reduce, imagine each new item you bring into the home as an addition to a collection. Whether it is a brand-new product, or one you hope to re-purpose, before you bring it into your home ask yourself these questions:

• Do I have space for this item?
• Am I willing to donate or discard another item in my collection to make space for this one?
• Does this new item authentically fill a purpose in my collection?
• Does this item have a utilitarian use?


Many of us have good intentions to reuse various household items. Sometimes, these items take up all our storage space and turn into clutter. Ironically, the clutter then makes it hard to find things around the house and results in duplicate purchases of items we already own (but can’t find). Hence the “Reduce” part of the three R’s suffers.

One example is small appliance and electronics packaging. Many people keep the box from the TV or computer they bought – in case they move, or in case there is a problem with the product and they need to return it. These boxes can be bulky and take up a lot of precious storage space. They fill up garages and closets – creating clutter and making it more difficult to store and find daily items.
If you are not moving in the next few months, and you know the item will not be returned, we recommend that you recycle those big bulky boxes. Should you move in the future, U-Haul sells a flat panel TV moving box for about $20. Without the extra clutter you’ll have a much easier time organizing your possessions and finding what you need.

Some people love to bargain hunt and search for items they can re-finish and re-purpose in their homes. Sometimes, though, they may have multiple projects, or they might bite off more than they can handle. Maybe you’ve bought a table, for example, in an antique shop. Once you got it home and began refinishing it, you learned that the process is much harder than you had expected. Or perhaps a business trip or illness derailed your project. This type of scenario is so common. Now years later, the table is still cluttering up your garage. You wait for that one day when you’ll maybe tackle it again.

We recommend that you let these projects go. Imagine the spaces currently taken up by these items as clean and open. Imagine reclaiming the space for items you use in your day to day life.


On this Earth Day, consider donating or recycling items you don’t use or don’t need. Free up space around your home for the truly important items in your life. Your home will be less cluttered and more calm – and you may even find something that’s been missing.


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