When Room to Breathe was founded in 2005, our mission included a deeply rooted commitment to environmental sustainability. From the very start, we have offered a variety of eco-conscious services to our clients – donation and recycling drop off, consignment referrals, electronic and hazardous waste recycling, and reusing/ repurposing things found in our clients home. Whenever possible, we try our hardest to avoid items going to the landfill- a task that is a very important consideration when people are downsizing and purging mass volumes of worldly possessions.
One of the most crucial steps in organizing any space is re-evaluating our buying habit. This means identifying and curbing impulse purchases and learning to be more thoughtful and intentional about each and every item we allow in to our homes. That might sound daunting, and it by no means implies we can’t still enjoy beautiful things, but without this conscious shift, no organizational system will ever stand the test of time.
All this said, it might not feel like such a huge stretch to consider that we are advocates of reducing waste whenever possible. Opting for quality over quantity, reusable over disposable, locally made over fast or cheap. And for many of the Room to Breathe team members this means continually striving to reduce our own personal footprint, shifting toward zero-waste whenever possible.
So, to start the year off on the right (light) foot, we wanted to share some of our favourite and simple ZERO-WASTE ideas - and challenge each of us to take a few of them on. Some of these ideas are likely ones you are already doing, and some may be new- but all are tangible actions you can easily incorporate into your daily life - reducing your footprint, treading more gently on the earth, and saving some money in the process (bonus!)
A little note of consideration: As with any lifestyle change, it’s import to approach it in small, bite-size pieces. Feeling like we need to change everything at once is a natural reaction, but it’s also one that inevitably leaves us feeling overwhelmed very quickly. Picking one task to implement, giving it adequate time to sink in and become a new habit before moving on to the next idea is a crucial step in making these transitions successful.
Reusable shopping bags, travel mugs, saying no to straws- these are probably the actions you think of when you hear the words 'zero-waste' - they may even be things you are already implementing in your day to day. If not, challenge yourself to lug-a-mug for an entire month - if you don't have a mug, you dont get to have a coffee. Or tuck a small reusable shopping bag into your purse or backpack so you always have one on hand.
If you are looking to up your commitment, consider bringing your own takeout containers to restaurants, making reusable canvas produce bags, ditching plastic baggies and cling wrap for reusable alternatives, or buying grocery staples in bulk. These actions require a bit of premeditation, but the waste savings are immense.
Make Your Own
Over the last several years, we have seen a big shift toward making your own home cleaning and body care products, and although this can take a bit of time to adjust to, it's an impactful way to reduce the waste (and chemical load) in our lives. An easy place to start is by trying your hand at making your own natural cleaning products. A little bit of white vinegar, castile soap, and essential oils in a spray bottle and you have an effective germ-killing cleaner. Body butters and tooth paste are also good starting point for newbies.
So often, consuming becomes habitual. We buy things because it feels good or we need to have the latest and greatest. But when we take the time to consciously reflect and scrutinize these small purchases, they quickly add up to one big problem. SO MUCH of the work Room to Breathe does is downsizing excess. Removing items that no longer serve us, clearing out clutter that, over time, has slowly taken over our living spaces and filled our minds with stress and overwhelm.
An interesting experiment is to take to a buy-nothing challenge. A commitment to buy nothing non-essential for a set period of time. Maybe that's a week, a month, or an entire year - being ruthless with where and what we spend our hard earned money on is an invaluable life lesson. And if you find there is something you truly need, consider borrowing from a friend, making your own, seeking out something second-hand, or repurposing an item you already own.
The perfect way to reset and recalibrate.
Room to Breathe Calgary and Edmonton's Top Professional Home Organizers