Meaner Greener Me: cleaning out a cupboard, cleaning up my act

In our house there is a big five shelf, built-in cupboard that holds most of the items we use regularly. It includes household filing, greetings cards, wrapping paper, photo albums, laptops, cables, huge amounts of stationary, the kids’ craft box, my make-up, hairdryer, straighteners…I could go on and on. It badly needed organised – to the point that we are used to things literally falling out and hitting us.

As well as the threat to our health and safety, it has niggled me for some time that this cupboard has hindered some of my attempts to be a more responsible consumer.

How can this be?

Because the cupboard has been so disorganised I sometimes find myself buying duplicates of things we already have because I know that if I need sellotape within the next week I’d better get more because I’m never going to find ours in that bloody cupboard!!

Recently, my other half and I had discussed tidying out the cupboard but had failed to satisfactorily turn the idea into reality.

Until this weekend.

One of us challenged the other on the postponement of clearing out the cupboard (ie blamed them) which culminated in the task being set for the following night. Neither of us felt able to back out, even though it was quite obvious we both wanted to…

At the allocated time, we duly set to work and approximately three hours later concluded our task feeling united in our triumph and somewhat sheepish about, as suspected, how many duplicates we had found.
Here’s a taster:

Glue from the craft box
I had no idea we had this and bought another tube (not pictured) last week.

photo (206)

Stickers
I buy these fairly often without checking what we have already.

photo (208)

Thank you cards
1 or 2 packets would be enough for our needs.

photo (205)

Toiletries
…yes, there are 9 lipsalves.

photo (209)

It’s an eye-opener that a few hours of tidying would have saved me A LOT of over-consuming. It would also have saved me a significant amount of time as I was forever digging around in the cupboard searching in vain.

We filled a wastepaper basket full of ‘bits and pieces’ that will simply end up in landfill, as well as lots of old paperwork that will be recycled. I feel very frustrated by how much ‘stuff’ we had – some of it necessary, some of it luxuries and so much of it completely in excess of what we need.

During Zero Waste Week I learned that the way to reduce my food waste is to buy less food in the first place and sorting out our cupboard reinforced that message. I acquire too many things. I need to stop thinking simply about why I want something and to go beyond that and consider whether I will be able to use a product up entirely (or for years to come if it can’t be consumed) and how the item, or its packaging, will be disposed of at the end of its life.

Hopefully this is a lesson learned, although I am slowly starting to realise that ‘not wasting’ is a skill that takes practice.

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2 thoughts on “Meaner Greener Me: cleaning out a cupboard, cleaning up my act

  1. This is my downfall. We had a massive tidy of the sideboard of doom in the dining room and found 4 half used Sellotape rolls. Each one bought, obviously, as we couldn’t find the previous one! It is a waste of money and resources.

    Well done on the cupboard clearing. Bet it feels so much better now it is done?

  2. Great post! When I stopped buying plastic last year, it took me almost 12 months to finish using up all the plastic toiletries that I’d bought on special, or because I didn’t want to run out, or thought I might possibly need in the future. 12 months! That money could have sat in my savings account instead! I’m learning to be better now, but my weakness is the pantry (if there was a nuclear holocaust I’d be well fed for months). I have so much that I’m never sure what’s in it and like you, I buy more just in case.

    We’ll get there though. Being aware is definitely the first (and most important) step!

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