Do you have a ton of stuff? Between kitchenware, clothing, electronics and household items, you may have more items than you need. Enter minimalism. It’s a movement that emphasizes paring down your things, cleaning clutter and simplifying your life down to the essentials. Downsizing can help you breathe easier in your cleaned-up space and save money. Here’s how to get started.

Clean it up

Maybe it’s a stack unread mail on your desk, or the kids’ toys piled in the corner. And do you really still need those VHS tapes? Pick a day to start cleaning, sorting and getting rid of the clutter. Paring down can take months or years – it took a while to collect all of your possessions, so it will take a while to clear them out too. It’s a process.

Downsize your possessions

Some minimalists live with just 50-100 possessions in total! Could you live that way? Most of us have that many things in our kitchen alone! Take a good look at what you own. If you haven’t used it in a year, ask yourself why you keep it.

Remember that one person’s trash is another person’s treasure, so don’t throw any usable items in the garbage. Sell unwanted items at a garage sale or give them to charity. Diabetes Canada’s has an upcycling program. They will collect your small electronics, household items, kitchenware and children’s toys, and deliver them to Value Village. They are paid per the volume of goods delivered, and the money raised ($8.7 million annually) supports diabetes research. Bonus: the goods are diverted from landfills.

Closet makeover

Have you heard of a capsule wardrobe? It’s a term for having a few essential wardrobe items that don’t go out of style, such as a black blazer, white shirt and jeans. With the right key pieces, you can have an outfit suitable for any occasion without owning tons of clothes. So, clean out that closet!

Many of us are guilty of wearing only half of the clothes in our closet, and that’s a waste. Donate clothes you haven’t worn in the last year, can’t imagine ever wearing again, or wouldn’t buy if you saw it in a store today. Professional attire can be donated to Dress for Success, a non-profit organization that provides wardrobes to women living in poverty, single moms, or newcomers to Canada who are looking for jobs. And all types of clothing can be donated to Diabetes Canada.

Head into the kitchen

The average Canadian consumer throws out about 170 kilograms of food a year. To look at it another way, we each toss out a quarter of our groceries every time we shop. It’s a waste of money, and the food ends up in landfills. Instead, check your fridge and pantry before you shop, and make a list of what you need. This will ensure you don’t over-buy or duplicate items. And keep track of what you routinely throw away, so you can reduce buying foods that are often wasted.

At mealtime, try not to over-serve food, especially on kids’ plates. It’s better to eat what you need and go back for seconds, rather than pile food on your plate, get full, and throw the rest in the garbage. Bonus tip: Save leftovers and serve them at another meal and freeze what you can.

Keep it going

Okay, you’ve sorted, cleaned and tidied. Now what? When you shop, ask yourself “is this absolutely necessary?” before you buy it. It will help ensure you’re not bringing in new things that you don’t need.

 

What’s one area in your house that could use de-cluttering?

Cara Rosenbloom

Author Cara Rosenbloom

Registered Dietitian Cara Rosenbloom is the president of Words to Eat By, a Toronto-based nutrition communications company specializing in writing, recipe development and nutrition education. Read her blog and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

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