Day 4: Trash & Recycling {Decluttering From A To Z} | From Overwhelmed to Organized: Day 4: Trash & Recycling {Decluttering From A To Z}

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Day 4: Trash & Recycling {Decluttering From A To Z}

This month I'm hosting the Decluttering From A To Z challenge.  It's a fun way to help you declutter items in your home that you may not have thought of decluttering.

If you've missed any posts you can find them all here.

Today we're talking about garbage and recycling.  A lot of clutter in our homes is really garbage or recycling.  It's not stuff we'll use again and it's not in good enough condition to donate or give away.  Before we start decluttering (that's starting tomorrow!!), let's take a minute today and talk about how to deal with the garbage and recycling clutter we'll find this month.

What Kind of Bags I Recommend

As you're decluttering this month, you'll want to donate or give away (or even sell if possible) as many items as you can to avoid sending usable items to the landfill.  But for everything you're decluttering that isn't usable, toss it in the garbage or recycling.  Just get it out of your home!

I recommend using black garbage bags like these for garbage (the drawstrings make it really quick if you have lots of bags!), and blue bags like these for recycling.  Depending on what kind of trash you are eliminating, you may want to use odor shield bags so things don't get too smelly.  Empty cardboard boxes work well for recycling too, especially if you're decluttering a lot of paper (it weighs more than other recycling so you can't fit as much in the blue bags).

From my experience as a professional organizer, I can tell you that you get what you pay for with cheap bags. 

  • They don't hold as much (so you end up using more of them which costs as much in the end as better quality bags)
  • They rip easily (and who wants to spend time cleaning up when bags break or tear?)
  • If you're filling a lot of bags it takes extra time to tie them with twist ties or knots.  

With the amount of garbage and recycling you'll hopefully be tossing this month, spend a 
bit extra and get good quality bags.  You'll save time and money :)

Note: make sure you know what the garbage and recycling rules are in your region. Some places only take garbage in cans or recycling in bins.  

Peter Walsh's Trash Bag Tango

If you know me or have been following me for awhile, you know I love Peter Walsh, and that he's one of the main reasons I became a professional organizer.  One of my favourite tips from Peter is the "Trash Bag Tango".  

Here's a video of Peter to tell you about it:

We already talked about donations yesterday, but I like Peter's idea of walking around and grabbing all the garbage you can find from the area you're trying to declutter.  It really adds up and makes a big difference!  Then once you've decluttered all the "easy" garbage and recycling, you'll be able to see better what clutter you're left with.  That will make it easier to tackle it.

I'd suggest modifying Peter's 2 bag system and have 1 bag for garbage and 1 bag for recycling.  Gather all the garbage and recycling first, and then, as you go through everything else, you can decide if you want to donate, give away, sell, or keep it.

A Note About Shredding

If you're decluttering mail or other paperwork, you'll probably come across items you should shred. Anything with addresses, account numbers, or confidential information should be shredded instead of recycled.

For small amounts, you can designate a bin or a box for shredding to go into, and when you're finished gathering it all, you can take a few minutes and shred it yourself.

There are lots of options available for shredders.  Here are a few different types and who they work best for:

  • Light-duty shredder that sits on your own wastebasket - this kind works well if you only have occasional papers to shred.  They're usually less expensive than the other types. And if you come across an extra garbage can in your decluttering you can use it!  
  • 6-sheet cross cut shredder - this kind works well if you shred a few papers a few times per week. 
  • 12-sheet high-security micro-cut shredder with pull-out bin - if you have a home office or shred a lot of highly confidential documents, this kind will be best.  It's more expensive, but the pull-out bin makes it easy to empty and the 12-sheet capacity means you can shred more at one time.  It also shreds your documents into much smaller pieces so it's more secure.

I'm not recommending a specific brand here (I'll leave it to you to read reviews), but these links will give you some ideas of what kinds of shredders you can purchase.

If you shred on a regular basis, you can usually keep on top of it yourself.  But if you find you have a lot to shred all at once during this challenge, you may want to consider having it shredded somewhere else.  Around here, a file box of papers is usually around $18-20 and that saves a TON of time shredding it yourself.

It's also good to send your shredding away if you have limits on how many bags of shredded paper you can put out with your garbage or recycling.  Some companies will even pick it up (for a little more cost) if you have enough.  Check online for reviews to make sure you use a reputable company.

What's Next For You?

Today I want you to do a few things to make the garbage and recycling part of decluttering easier this month:

  • Research your local waste management's rules for what items are acceptable in the garbage and what items can be recycled.  
  • Find out what the garbage and recycling pick-up schedule is for your home. (If you're not familiar with it, print it out and post it someplace you can refer to throughout the month.)
  • Determine if some kinds of waste need to go somewhere else, and what the hours of that facility are (electronic waste, batteries, chemicals, etc.)
  • Stock up on garbage and recycling bags (or whatever materials you need in your area) and keep them in an easily accessible area in your home.
  • If you anticipate having some shredding during this challenge and you don't have a shredder, do some research and purchase one that best meets your needs.
  • If you think you'll have a lot of paperwork to shred this month, research the costs and procedures for shredding companies in your area.
  • If you want to jump in and declutter some trash or recycling, grab a couple of bags and get started!

Want more decluttering ideas, tips, and inspiration?  Need some motivation and accountability to keep you going?  Here are some ways to get the most out of this challenge:

1.  Sign up to receive my blog posts in your email inbox.  You'll get a new post every day this month with the latest Decluttering From A To Z post.  Once the challenge is over, you'll receive an email whenever a new blog post is published (usually 1-2 times per week).  I share decluttering tips and other organizing tips on the blog.  You can unsubscribe at any time and I won't spam you.  I promise.

2.  Join the 365 Items in 365 Days decluttering challenge!   The Decluttering From A To Z challenge is really a challenge within a challenge.  You can start the 365 Items in 365 Days challenge at any time and declutter whatever you want.  More details here.  There are details in that post about our great Facebook group too.

3.  Check out my 31 Days of Easy Decluttering series.  This was my 31 Days series from 2 years ago and each post gives tips to declutter different items or areas of your home.  If you're focusing on certain areas of your home this month some of the posts may help you out.

4.  Follow my Decluttering/Organizing Tips & Ideas board on Pinterest.  This is my most popular board and I share tips there frequently.

Share Your Decluttering Progress!  

I hope these ideas will help you declutter today!  Inspire all of us by sharing your decluttering pictures in any of these places:

How much of the clutter in your home is actually garbage or materials to recycle?  Have you ever tried the "Trash Bag Tango"?  What tips can you share for preventing garbage or recycling from cluttering up your home?

Happy decluttering!

I link up at these great parties - Check them out!

Here are all the posts in this series!