We hear this all the time. “I’d like to declutter, but it just feels so wasteful.” While we appreciate the sentiment (we’re one of the least-wasteful junk removal companies you’ll ever find!), the sentiment is almost always counter-productive. In some cases, it means that people end up being (sometimes literally)  trapped under mountains of stuff that they feel they can’t get rid of.

So how do you deal with the idea of decluttering being wasteful?

We’d encourage you to re-frame the thought. The origin of the thought typically has to do with either the environmental or the economic impact of getting rid of something. Let’s look at both.

Environmental Impact Of Clutter

It makes sense to be worried about the environmental impact of the things we own. But the thing is, the primary environmental impact of an item isn’t created at the time of disposal – it’s created at the time of production. The objects in your home already exist. This means that you have a few options for your things. You can:

  • Keep them, in which case they’ll exist in your home
  • Throw them away, in which case they’ll exist in a landfill
  • Find a way to recycle them

Recycling is obviously the best option if it’s available, but the one thing that can’t be done is for the item to be un-produced. Once it exists, if nobody wants it, its ultimate destination is either the recycler or the landfill. Keeping it in your house for 50 years doesn’t change that.

Economic Impact Of Clutter

We probably all have (or know others’) grandparents who saved lots of things “just in case.” And it makes sense on some instinctual level to think that if we “waste” things by getting rid of them, it will be financially detrimental in the long run. But just like the environmental impact, the primary economic impact was felt when an item was purchased. 

If something can be sold, and you don’t want it, then sell it. Easy enough. But unlike the days when people saved things that possibly had a future use, nobody is going to want a charger for a smartphone from 20 years ago. It served its purpose, and holding onto it doesn’t benefit your future self. Paradoxically, you don’t save money by holding onto tons of extra “just in case” stuff – it costs you money in the long run.

The Real Issue – Churn

What both of those concerns are driving at, but is frequently unstated, is the idea of “churn.” Churn is what you have when you’re constantly buying, disposing of, and re-buying similar items – particularly if the item you have is still legitimately useful. For example, if you wear a shirt once and then throw it away because you want what’s in fashion next month, that’s churn. 

The thing about churn is that most significant decluttering projects don’t fit the definition. If you have the remainder of Grandma’s estate in your guest room, you’re not churning when you get rid of it unless you plan to buy another grandma’s estate to replace it.

Simply put, avoiding churn doesn’t mean not getting rid of things – it means not constantly disposing of and replacing things. Getting rid of something you’d never replace in a million years isn’t an issue.

“Done For You” Waste Reduction

If you’re concerned about the impact of your stuff, and about ensuring that it goes where it will do the most good and/or disposed of responsibly, that’s the core of our business. We work with local nonprofits, thrift stores, donation centers, and recycling facilities to make sure that everything we haul off goes where it will do the most good, or in the case of disposal, where it will do the least harm.

If that’s what’s holding you back, give us a call and let’s have a chat. We’re confident that our friendly, professional team can help you put your space in order and your mind at ease!

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