In today’s post, Nancy shares an organizing roadblock she has encountered when getting organized. Can you relate or do you have different organizing obstacles? Let us know in the comments! 

I worked for many years for environmental groups, and environmental issues remain very important to me. So I try to lead a green life. One way is to make sure that when I get rid of things, I do it responsibly. I sell or donate as much as I can and recycle as much as possible. I hate the thought of throwing things away!

That’s why I used to have a pile of torn, stained clothes and towels in my closet. They weren’t suitable for donation, but I knew that the fibers could be used—somewhere. The problem was, I couldn’t figure out a way to get those textiles to such a place. My county’s recycling program didn’t take them. There were no local animal shelters that needed them, and no drop-off locations nearby. I already had plenty of rags. So for years that pile stayed in my closet, growing bigger and getting in my way.

I finally decided that it was OK to discard all that fabric. And I accepted the fact that my desire to be a good environmental citizen could sometimes get in the way of my need to declutter and stay organized. Sometimes I had to choose, and sometimes that choice would be to use the trash.

This was a liberating concept for me. I had been holding on to all sorts of things because I’d felt guilty about sending them to a landfill or I was waiting for the right recycling opportunity. Today, I still reuse, recycle, and donate as much as I can. And there are some things, like household hazardous waste, that I would never consider disposing of in the trash. But giving myself permission to throw some items in the garbage has made a big difference. I am moving things out of my house that would otherwise get in my way, or at the very least annoy me.

In the meantime, I try to head off this decision in the first place by limiting what I bring in to my house. Less stuff in to begin with means fewer things that will have to be discarded later. In the end, I think that’s one of the best ways to honor my environmental values.

If you are hesitating to get rid of things because of green concerns, it may be time to give yourself permission to get rid of some of them. Then work at reducing waste going forward by not buying things you don’t need or that won’t last.

I’d love to hear if you’ve had similar problems with moving things out of your house. What has tripped you up, and why?


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Nancy Vorsanger loves how her organized home makes her family’s life easier. She opened her own organizing business to help other families get—and stay—organized, with practical, no-fuss strategies tailored to their own needs and lifestyles. Nancy also loves coffee, word games, blogs, her husband, and her children—not in that order. She lives in central New Jersey.

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