Spring Cleaning: Decluttering Your Life

Spring Cleaning: Decluttering Your Life

Jessica Tata
May 4, 2009

We were awoken this morning to a "second notice that the factory warranty on our vehicle has expired," for the seventh or so time. We've simply hung up the phone in the past and gone back to sleep, but this morning, on our day off, we decided that there is more clutter in our home than we can see. With the time and effort we spend eliminating needless items from our space to keep a serene, simple environment, it's time we turned to some less expected sources of clutter! Here are a few steps we're taking to declutter not just our home, but our life...

Our morning alarm prompted us to add our telephone number to the National Do Not Call Registry. Managed by the FTC, this registry prevents you from being solicited by telemarketers. You can register up to three numbers at a time, and it takes all of 2 minutes to complete. We're hoping we won't get an eighth "second notice" about our factory warranty...

Junk mail is another unnecessary cause of clutter in our home. Even though we promptly toss it in the recycling (although much of it does not get recycled, depending on the contents of the envelope and type of paper) we feel the impact of the clutter, even just by receiving it--not to mention the toll that it takes on the environment. There are many services that claim to eliminate much of your junk mail, like the non-profit organization 41pounds.org (referring to the average amount of junk mail an adult receives in one year). Privacyrights.org offers many ways to start eliminating junk mail on your own. Registering for the Mail Preference Service with the Direct Marketing Association is a good start, and costs only $1. The DMA is the source of many national mailing lists. Privacyrights.org has many other tips on cutting down on the junk mail clutter.

Catalog Choice is a great free service that allows you to customize your catalog delivery preferences. Many of us have signed up for catalogs with our favorite stores (hello, CB2 and IKEA!) but have later realized that the online resource is enough for us. You can manage which catalogs get delivered to you with this website. This allows you to continue receiving catalogs you still want, but eliminate the others--including catalogs that may come to your home from a previous resident. This is golden; I once lived in an apartment where I received monthly knife collecting catalogs...such a waste and kind of creepy, too!

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Phone books. Perhaps the most obvious symbol of wasted paper in our home, we immediately recycle our books upon delivery. If you are in an area that does not have recycling pickup, visit here to find out how to recycle your phone books. More than recycling, we would like to prevent the delivery all together. Eco Yellow Pages has a step-by-step guide on how to remove yourself from the delivery recipients list with multiple yellow pages providers. They also have a link to a form where you can join the fight to make unsolicited phone book distribution illegal.

We know that plastic, and even paper shopping bag waste is a hot topic of late. We loved this article on Treehugger.com about crafty DIY uses for old plastic shoppers. The Safeway bag dress is amazing, and if we were a bit more adept with a sewing machine, we'd have to try it! But any use for the old plastic bags is welcome.

We'll admit that we are getting much better at using our canvas shoppers, but often stop at the store on the way home from work on an unplanned trip, and haven't brought our reusable shopper with us. Other times, we don't have enough room in the two bags we normally need, and end up needing extra from the store. That's why we love these bags, posted by Apartment Therapy a while ago here. We love that if you buy five, you get a pouch in which to store them in for a set that fits nicely in the bottom of your purse. We're going this route so that they're easily carried in our purse at all times, and with five we're pretty sure we'll always have enough room for even the largest shopping trip. They'll set you back about $40 for all five--not too bad.

We've been trying to keep it simple and get rid of distracting clutter in all formats. Any other ideas on ways to eliminate more unnecessary mess this spring?

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