14 Sustainable Living through Organization and Simplification

I recently returned from a camping trip where I felt like I was always on top of things and yet still relaxed. I always come home feeling the need to simplify and to remove clutter (real and virtual) from my life. Having an organized home not only simplifies life but it also helps you to be eco-conscious. It prevents resources from being used to produce materials you do not need, it reduces the amount of waste being generated and it frees up your home to be filled with the things you LOVE. 

Everything Has A Place - when everything has a home it means you aren't buying cheap storage solutions in hopes that it will solve your organization problems. Storage solutions that you use for a small amount of time before realizing that it is not what you need. This is an unnecessary use of resources and creates excess waste.

Knowing What You Have - I can't even count the number of times I buy something at the grocery store thinking I need it but when I get home I realized I already had some in the cluttered pantry. The same principle applies to anything you have in your home. You won't buy more batteries if you know where all your batteries are stored. You won't have to buy more reusable grocery bags because you will have all your bags stored together. 

Hoarding Causes Outdated Items - If you don't have a place for everything then you could potentially have a lot of something spread all over your home. By not organizing your life you are holding onto items longer than you potentially need to and the longer you do this the older those items get making it less likely that they can be sold or given away.

Focus and Prioritize Green Path - The process of organizing can bring out projects and focus areas that you may not have even realized needed to be prioritized. As I was spending the bulk of the day today going through 3 years of paper work I realized just how much paper work I get. I use electronic billing for everything that I can but going through the paperwork today (that I have been putting off...for years obviously) I realized that I get a lot of banking statements. In an effort to reduce waste I will be contacting our bank to stop receiving these. 

Simplification Is Not Simple - Be tough on yourself. Ask yourself if you really need the item. When was the last time you even used it anyways? I had items that I hadn't even unpacked 4 years after we had moved. Get it out of your life and pass it along to someone who can really use it. 

Wondering where to start?  

  • Starting January 1st try getting rid of 2014 things in the year. I did this in 2011 to great success
  • Pick 1 room and go through it creating boxes for Keep, Donate, Sell and Recycle. Move onto the next room and then the next. When you are done your home grab all your Keep boxes and start to look for organization solutions. Find that place for every thing. 
  • Focus on a specific theme like clothing, paper work, craft supplies and tackle everything you have in that theme before moving on to the next theme. 

How organized is your home? Where did you start?

Related Documents - Check them Out
Reducing Your Plastic Footprint
Rethinking One Time Use
Focusing on the 3 R's


  1. awesome, i am a neat freak so thanks for sharing

  2. This is a really great post, Jen. I'm a bit of a junker/garage saleing freak, and this can lead to a bit of clutter in my craft room. As a result? Sometimes I can't find stuff, or a buy something in duplicates. I NEED to pare it down.

  3. I love that you have a craft room!

    I should post pictures of my spare bedroom/office/upcycling room. So many things I want to turn into something else but don't have the time to yet.

  4. My home has been overtaken by "stuff" - time to clear things out! Thanks for posting.

  5. I purge as we go, if it hasn't been used within the last year - it's outta here!

  6. Some great tips.....now if only I could get my daughters to clean up the toy clutter in their rooms. Time to donate, donate and throw out!!

  7. Jen, thanks for posting this! By nature I am a hoarder... so the rule of everything has a place is a tough one for me... Working on it though!

  8. I've been on a simplifying trip lately. Thanks for the tips!

  9. Have you tried the 1 in 1 out rule Christine?

  10. Everything has its place is so hard for me too Karen. I'm slowly starting to find places for things and if I can't then out the door!

  11. So important to know what you have! I know I've lost something, bought a new one only to find the original. Great tips.

  12. Love the idea of starting in the new year and getting rid of 2014 things... great post!

  13. Love the idea of starting in the new year and getting rid of 2014 things... great post!

  14. It was so easy to do too Laurie. I thought it would be super hard when I did it in 2011 but was amazed when it wasn't.