Simplifying. Reducing. Recycling.
Creating a more minimalistic lifestyle.
Curating the amount of ‘stuff’ you have in your apartment or house, can be a daunting task. And with the latest fad of what is essentially, ‘cleaning up’, comes the concept of Marie Kondo. The Japanese organizing consultant and author, who is now on Netflix with her show “Tidying Up With Marie Kondo’
Holding an item and asking yourself if it brings you joy.
An interesting concept to grasp.
How can an inanimate object bring you joy?
Does this plastic Christmas plate with a snowman on it, bring me joy?
If I only use it once a year, does that count?
And as I hold it, no fond memories come rushing forth, but its novelty earns a space in the cupboard.
As I start on my wardrobe, my more practical side asks, “Have I washed this in the past 12 months?’ and, ‘Am I likely to wear this in the next 12 months?’
If the answer to both of those is no, it goes into the black garbage bag, that will go to the charity store.
If the answer to question #1 is yes, but no to question #2, then it goes into the black garbage bag.
If the answer to question #1 is no, but yes to question #2, congratulations object/article of clothing! You have passed round #1 and you can stay!
For me, there are two parts to this action of ‘cleaning up’.
Firstly, I need to clear some space! I have lived in my current apartment for nearly six years and I arrived into the country with one check-in suitcase, a carry-on suitcase and a small backpack. How did I get to this?!
Secondly, how can I recycle what I don’t want, or need anymore?
What now happens to my ‘things’ that don’t bring me joy?
Some are taken to the local charity store (the still wearable and good quality pieces) and hope that they bring someone else a little joy.
I recycle what I can through my apartment buildings’ paper and plastics bins, but what about furniture and shoes and pots and old electrical cords and worn-out clothing?
Where and how can I reuse or recycle these? How can I bring new joy to these unwanted items?
The old saying, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, springs to mind.
Below are my three biggest learnings for recycling items that no longer bought me joy.
#1 Clothing & Footwear
The biggest and possibly the easiest items to recycle or re-purpose.
Items that are still in good condition can be donated to charity stores. When I go thrifting, I love rummaging through rails of clothing to find a hidden gem or two and I know others who love this too.
Taking a little time to research which charities are currently looking for donations, can be a daunting task. Below are just a few that I personally like.
My Sisters Closet https://www.bwss.org/
For footwear, if you have odd shoes, or shoes that are beyond repairing, these can be donated through one of the donation bins scattered around town. This ensures that they go to a sorting facility and can be disposed of correctly, without ending up at the landfill.
Give favourite pieces of clothing a new lease on life! If you don’t have the skills to fix it yourself, there are many events and workshops around the city, that can help!
My favourite is FixIt, by frameworq.ca however there are plenty scattered around metro Vancouver. A quick Google or Social Media search can locate one closest to you.
I have so many tshirts that have stretched out of shape or are just a bit tired, that have been relegated to my pyjama pile. Win for me as I get to keep these comfy tees, I just don’t wear them in public!
Items that are worn, and that are a little beyond repair can be re-purposed into cleaning rags.
Slightly trickier, as unless you have the right skill set, you probably can’t repair or know how to recycle these on your own. Depending on the appliance, it may be worth your while checking to see if it can be repaired, before recycling it.
There are also great initiatives around the city who appreciate donations and my favourite is FreeGeekVancouver
#3 Single Use Plastic
This is the hardest item I find to avoid using, as so much of our food and every-day products come wrapped in plastic.
Plastic shopping bags are easily replaced with fabric shoppers. For vegetables and bulk foods, you can buy cloth bags, such as those from organicbags.ca
recyclebc.ca has great information on their easy-to-use website. They also note a hotline if you are unsure – RCBC Hotline 1-800-667-4321
A lot of these websites will tell you to avoid buying products with single use plastic where you can. However, not all product at this time, can be bought without plastic packaging of some description.
As the need becomes bigger and more consumers demand less plastic packaging, the industry will change, however change does take time and if we recycle what we can, we are still doing our part by reducing the amount of single use plastic that goes to the landfill.
As I look around my now minimalist apartment and admire my handy work, I am struck by a couple of things.
First of all, how much ‘stuff’ I had acquired that wasn’t actually used regularly. It makes me wonder if I actually needed it, or if it was a ‘nice-to-have-in-an-emergency’ type of need.
Consumerism at its best.
The second is, that I don’t need to keep buying ‘stuff’ just because it is on sale or to stock-up! I just buy what I need, as I need it. And what I don’t need, well, can just stay on the shelf!
I’d love to hear your stories of how you recycle, reduce and re-purpose! Leave me a comment below!