Decluttering our homes without cluttering the planet

argentina nov 08 sunrise over lake

Today is your day to let go of things that no longer serve you”

Katrina Mayer

“A society is defined not only by what it creates but what it refuses to destroy”

John Sawhill


Derek Writes:

Spring is a great time to let some light and air into the home. Don’t just stop at giving the place a spring clean however. Why not reduce the amount of stuff that actually needs cleaning in the first place and celebrate the season with a ‘spring declutter’ first!

Think of the unfeigned joy of finally seeing shining worktops devoid of clutter, sparkling in the spring sunshine! Imagine opening cupboards and wardrobes and effortlessly finding the item you’re looking for without being deluged by a jumble of unsorted junk!

But what do we do with all this stuff that seems to magically appear and complicate our lives? It would be so wonderful to just magic it away again as effortlessly as it seems to have arrived.

I don’t know about you but my faith doesn’t stretch to miraculous tidying or spontaneous removal of unused, unwanted and unattractive items.

If I didn’t have an environmental conscience (I blame my wife for that!) I’d do what I used to do; I’d throw it away in the rubbish or at the local tip. Alas- I’ve discovered the inconvenient truth (now there’s a good name for a film) that there is no such place as ‘away’. Bury it or burn it, it will never, unlike everything that nature discards, contribute to the glory that God intends for the whole earth.

So to help us all in achieving the clutter-free life we’re dreaming of AND to help us love the planet, here are a few ideas of what to do with our unwanted stuff:

  1. Can it be repaired, refurbished or ‘upcycled’?

So often we throw stuff away because the cost in money, time or inconvenience is too high. Instead of challenging the throwaway culture and planned obsolescence we go for the easy option and just buy a new one.

Why not try:

  • Restart parties where everyone brings their broken electronic equipment for mending.
  • Try mending it yourself. Try or for advice and spare parts.
  • Use a local tradesman to get it mended. Websites like, and local.which can be helpful here.
  • Can it be ‘upcycled”? Can the item be creatively reused to make new products or materials? Try com for a vast range of ideas for transforming such things as furniture and clothing and for creating all kinds of gifts. Also is worth a visit.
  1. Could it be sold?

There are various options here, depending on the item concerned.

  • Websites like ebay, thegumtree or preloved cover a vast range of possibilities
  • Put up a notice up in local shops, local papers or on a local community or church website
  1. Is it unwanted but reusable?

Not surprisingly there are numerous options available:

  • Use websites such as freecycle, freegle or streetbank
  • Does anyone in your family, church, friends and colleagues need the item?
  • Donate to a local charity shop. Use org to find your nearest charity shops. Check with the charity’s website to see what they will or won’t take
  • Try leaving it on the side of the road (outside your house that is!) I’ve used this to find a new home for all sorts of stuff. If this won’t work where you live speak to friends whose house/flat might have suitable roadside space. You’ll be amazed what gets taken!
  • Find out about local swapping (called ‘swishing’ for clothes) events
  1. Have you checked out your local council recycling?

Local council’s invest heavily in pushing up the % of waste that can be re-used or recycled. They often have a useful database enabling you to ask about any specific type of unwanted item- (see here for Wandsworth)

Our own local council (Wandsworth) has the following services:

  • Orange bin bags for weekly household pickup. It’s always worth checking what can and can’t be included.
  • Bulky and DIY waste collections. There is a small charge and includes all kinds of large items such as furniture that can’t be reused.
  • Hazardous waste collections. This is usually free (up to a certain volume) and includes paint, weed killers and white spirits.
  • Re-use centre. A large range of items in a ‘cosmetically good condition’ can be picked up from your home and reused by a charity. This includes furniture, electricals and white goods.
  • Recycling centre. These recycle a vast range of items from wood, metal and garden waste to CD’s, light bulbs and all kinds of electronics. Check the website for the list of items.
  1. Recycling and reuse websites.

There are websites dedicated to advising on what to do with specific unwanted items:

  • com This is the national recycling campaign for England funded by the government and used by nearly all the local authorities. Just look up the item in question and you can find out quite quickly what the options are.
  • Another useful website giving suggestions about what to do with all those tricky-to-get-rid-of items.
  • Your local council website (see 4. Above) should also be able to help.


Our aim is not to simply achieve a clutter-free home for ourselves but to leave a clutter-free planet for everyone.

And as we pray the Lord’s prayer that God’s ‘kingdom will come upon earth as it is in heaven’ we are also asking that the Lord will help us live in such a way that we leave a beautiful earth for those who will come after us.

Like it or not, that means doing away with throwing away as often as we are able.