Maybe you’re wondering what eco-guilt even is. Perhaps you never even heard of it. Or maybe you have, and it’s beginning to plague your decisions when decluttering items from your home.
Eco-guilt is a negative feeling you experience any time that you COULD have done something to protect our planet but instead, you consciously decided not to. Although, this is the technical definition, I actually believe that it’s bigger than that because the eco-guilt actually STOPS you from taking any action in the first place. It’s a state of inertia, of standing still, of not deciding because the decision you think you will have to make will not be beneficial for the environment.
This guilt about wanting to take steps towards caring for our world is becoming an increasingly common barrier to actually letting things go. The indecision about what to do with unwanted household items means that you hold onto them for longer, in the hopes that a solution will present itself that makes you feel happy and light about the choice you are making.
Although it is almost impossible to completely get rid of the idea of eco-guilt, you can take steps on a personal level that will banish this feeling from continuing to hold you back.
1) Consider the afterlife of your items.
Once you have decided that any item in your home needs to be moved on, you can ask yourself a few questions to help make decisions about the best course of action to take. If the item is in good, useable condition, it can be sold if you would like to receive some money compensation. Two of the easiest online sites for selling most items are Ebay and Facebook Marketplace.
If you want to move the item on as fast as possible, you can consider giving it away for free on any local Freecycle sites or Facebook Marketplace is also good for this.
Perhaps your item needs to be repaired so that it can be used in your home again. Local repair cafes are popping up in many areas so a quick Google search should help you to find the closest one to you.
All of the above are good things to consider but it is also worth giving yourself a time scale for how long you will try and sell/give something away. Having an item hanging around your home for ages and ages while you try and move it all can cause frustration and stress so decide how long you will aim to pass the item on.
2) It’s all about the balance.
I understand the desire to want to pass clutter on to a home where it will be reused again because I feel it so often myself. But you also need to be kind to yourself. If you have tried other avenues to move something on and had no success, then it is okay to just let it go. Or sometimes, things do get broken and cannot be used again. You can give yourself permission to throw it away as a last resort. If this is the outcome, consider what action you can take to create a balance for the environment. There are lots of things that can be done to support the planet such as giving money to charities that support a cause you are passionate about, volunteer at a local eco-event, go on a litter pick or sign a petition to support something you feel will help protect our world.
3) Mindfulness and shopping
This is a hard one especially if you have been an avid shopper in the past or always on the look out for a bargain. But it’s also one of the most important ways you can reduce your eco-guilt because the less you have, the less you have to get rid of later on.
When you are purchasing an item, really think about whether it is something you love or really need. If both of these are true, where in your home will this item go? Is there room for it in the place that you have in mind? Taking the time to ponder this can make a big difference in your decision to buy or not to buy.
The rule: One In, One Out works very well here, too. For every new item of clothing you are considering buying, which item in your closet, are you willing to donate or pass on? This really helps you to know whether you really love or need the item you are thinking about buying.
Another consideration to give when you are buying something new is the material of the item. Some materials such as wood, metal and cloth are much more easily recycled in the future if you should ever decide that the item is no longer needed.
4) Every day must have household items
This one is also about creating a balance about what you are using in your home day-to-day, and beginning to replace items with more eco-friendly choices. By making a few changes around your home, you will have a more positive impact on our environment that helps to balance out the eco-guilt that creeps in when you need to throw something away. Whether it’s shampoo bars, compostable sponges or dish clothes, cleaning products with no chemicals-any one of these changes, no matter how small, will make a difference.
Eco-guilt is a feeling that is going to creep up on you from time to time but it’s the actions that you take and the mindset that you have that will banish this and stop holding you back in the future.