New year: organize your house so you keep only important things

Take advantage of the new year to declutter your house, make some small home improvements, and acquire new habits that have positive impacts on your life and the environment. Check out our tips.

 

Inspired by the new year spirit, January is a time for a fresh start, of renewal. How’s about renewing your life to make it more practical, prosperous, and pleasant? This new impulse can make our lives better, as long as we take better care of what we have and change behaviors.

Organizing the house is a good starting point for those looking to get a new lease of life in 2018. It’s worth looking carefully at each room to see which things should stay and find new homes for the stuff you don’t want or need any more. It’s also important that things are easily accessible and identifiable for you and your family.
The benefits of a clear out go beyond aesthetic and well-being gains. When we know what we have at home, we can make better use of things and avoid buying unnecessary or even “repeated” items. Clothes, food and tools last longer if they are stored properly and not forgotten at the back of a closet, drawer, or shelf.

The result is a reduction in the waste of the natural resources, time, work, and energy needed to produce and transport products, and of your own time and money.

Ready to start cleaning the clutter out of your house? Role your sleeves up and follow these tips:

KITCHEN

– Keep a constant eye on the fridge and store cupboard so that you know what foods should be used first and prevent spoilage – not only does food production cost money, but it also uses natural resources like water and has a significant impact on the environment. Get into the habit of making a list of the food you have at home, especially before going grocery shopping.

– When you put the groceries away, get into the habit of placing the older products at the front or above and the recently bought ones behind or below to ensure you use the older products first, thus reducing waste.

– Use air-tight plastic or glass jars to store foods like potato sticks, pasta, and muesli after opening. Check the packaging to see whether the product should be stored in the fridge and don’t forget to label the jars (use masking tape because it’s easy to change) with the use-by date.

– Take a careful look at the cupboard and discard things that you think you will never use. It’s pointless leaving these things around the house just taking up space. If they can be useful to somebody else, sell them or give them away. If they are broken, see if they can be fixed. As a last resort, send them for recycling or dispose of them responsibly.

– If you don’t separate your household waste, start doing so using two trash cans – one for organic material (left-over food, soiled paper) and another for recyclables. Click here to find out more about separating your household waste.

ROOMS AND CUPBOARDS

– Don’t overfill your closets. Things get “lost” in crowded closets and end up not being used – which is a waste of money and the natural resources and work that went into producing them. Go through your clothes often and put unwanted items to one side – swap them, sell them, or give them away!

– Reorganize your closet at every change of season. Choose the clothes you are most likely to use and make them more accessible. Make sure the items that you store away for the summer or winter are clean, avoiding stains that could spoil the garment.

– For smaller items like socks, underwear and accessories (belts, watches, trinkets and jewelry), drawer organizers are particularly useful to stop things going missing or getting damaged. With a drawer organizer you will never lose a sock again and you can save bras from becoming malformed. It’s important that the organizers have air holes to allow the air to circulate and prevent mold and mildew.

– Delicate winter clothes shouldn’t be left hanging out of season, because they can stretch. They should be neatly folded on shelves. As a last resort, you can put them in drawers, but be careful not to overfill them so as not to damage your clothes when opening and closing.

– With respect to everyday jeans and trousers, keep them easily visible by neatly folding them on shelves or hanging them on separate clothes hangers.

– Protect special occasion items, like party dresses and smart jackets, with breathable garment covers. Plastic covers can cause mold and mildew, which can spoil the garment. It’s important to ensure long life for your clothes, not only to get your money’s worth, but because clothing production consumes large quantities of natural and human resources.

– If you prefer to keep your shoes in the original boxes, make holes in them to allow the air to circulate and prevent the buildup of mold and mildew.

– When it comes to shoes, keep them in a visible place so you don’t forget them. Store them upright and stuffed with tissue paper or bubble wrap to preserve their quality.

STORAGE ROOM

– You know that “mess room” where you store home appliances like the vacuum cleaner, drill, tools, and other gadgets? Go over it with a fine tooth comb to see what you want to keep and prevent things from becoming needlessly idle – if you realize you are never going to use something, it’s better to sell it or give it away than to let it deteriorate without use. If you live in a condo, you could propose a common utility room so that tools and equipment can be used collectively by residents.

THE OFFICE

– Keep books clean to extend their useful life. An annual inspection and spring clean should be enough. Remove the books, clean them with a dry cloth and clean the book shelf with a damp cloth. Seize the moment to set aside the books you don’t want any more that are just taking up space. They might be useful to somebody else – swap them, sell them, or just give them away!

– Organize your books to help preserve their good condition and so you can find them when you want them. We recommend you sort them by author’s name and/or title. If you have a lot of books you can organize them by subject category, followed by author and title.

– While you’re at it, separate any sheets of papers you don’t use any more. Remember to use both sides. Used-on-one-side paper can be used for draft printing and then recycled, preferably without folding, wetting or tearing to facilitate the work of the recyclers. Paper should be shredded only if it’s confidential.

GENERAL LIGHTING

– Switching from fluorescent lamps to LEDs can make significant energy savings. The useful life of LEDs is around 16 years, which is 5 times that of fluorescent lamp bulbs. Their greater durability means that it would only be necessary to change a LED light bulb once over a period of 15 years, against five times with fluorescent bulbs. Although LEDs may be more expensive, it’s worth the switch, because the initial extra cost is compensated by the cost-savings on your energy bill in a little over 3 years.

– And, when buying new home appliances at Christmas, check they have the Procel energy efficiency label.

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