Sustainability as a way of life has several interpretations and perspectives. That being said, it is important to understand its meaning to correctly apply it in our lives. The Oxford Dictionary definition of sustainability is “the avoidance of the depletion of natural resources in order to maintain an ecological balance”. This means we do not use up the resources that our future generations will need later.
Another definition I came across is this one from Investopedia: “Sustainability is most often defined as meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet theirs. It has three main pillars: economic, environmental, and social. These three pillars are informally referred to as people, planet, and profits.” What I love about this definition is that it also considers the money we spend, along with the environment and future generations to come.
Fighting consumerism is a constant battle. We are always tempted to buy more and buy better. When spending our money, we need to be mindful of what we spend it on, so that it can be better used for the more important things in life like education, health, and recreation. If all people bought only what they needed, made that last, and bought less, this planet would be a happier place.
Here’s How You Can Green Your Home Storage
When decluttering and organising a home, you should be aware of what can be donated, repurposed, and recycled. In my experience, many homes already have solutions that can solve many storage problems – they just haven’t been recognised. Here are six tips to help recognise and create storage solutions that are sustainable.
1. Reuse Storage Containers
Be aware of all containers, baskets, and bins in the home. Are there some items that are not really being used to their full potential? Can some be moved to a different cupboard or room where they would make more sense? Often, we buy storage containers for one specific reason. However, as we change over time, our homes change too. The reason you bought that storage item might no longer exist, and it could be repurposed elsewhere.
For example, I might have bought an attractive basket to store my daughter’s toys in the living room and, now that she no longer plays with those toys, I would rather use the same basket in the hallway to store the family sports equipment. Similarly, you might have containers, say, in the kitchen that you no longer need, as you bought some new bins for your fridge. You could take the old ones and reuse them in the bathroom to keep toiletries sorted.
2. Repurpose Furniture
Are the moveable furniture items being used to their full potential? Are those set of drawers being used regularly or for long-term storage? Can you move some furniture into another room or space where it will be better utilised? Some cube storage units can be flipped on their side to create a different look and function. Maybe a set of drawers can be moved from one room to another where it can be better used. Before buying new storage cabinets, analyse what is already in the home. Before throwing old furniture out, check if there is a way that it can be repurposed to provide better storage elsewhere in the home.
3. Buy Neutral Colours
When buying storage items, buy containers that are neutral in colour – clear, white, cream, grey, brown, or black. You might be tempted to buy something with a pop of colour to suit your current aesthetic. However, over time, this might change. And if your storage containers are neutral, they can be kept in a space longer without clashing with the colour scheme. They can also be moved around to different areas of the home, fitting in easily with the surroundings.
When buying hidden storage like containers and bins that go inside cupboards, keep all the colours – preferably white or transparent – identical if possible. This will make the cupboard or cabinet appear calm as the colours are monotone. When buying visual storage items like baskets on display, buy neutral colours or natural textures like wood or grass that can fit in any room you have. Doing this will allow you to keep these items for longer, saving you money to spend on décor rather than storage items.
4. Stick to a Budget
You can find storage items in almost any home store nowadays. Plastic bins, fabric boxes, and natural baskets are available in most shops at various prices. Let’s say you’re buying a bin for your kitchen pantry. This bin has one purpose: to store your kitchen goods. However, you can spend three times the money on a similar container from a high-end store compared to a budget store. There is no logical reason to spend more money on an item that performs the same function as the cheaper item.
Fortunately, most storage items are neutral-hued, so there is very little difference to the look of the item. Storage items that are on display do require a bit more attention as you want it to look good in your home. With some knowledge of where to find these, you will be surprised at the price difference of the same wicker basket or any fancy container from one store to the next.
5. Label Only if Needed
Many people promote labelling containers all over the home so that their family members know exactly where everything goes. This is very helpful for some areas, especially if you have a large family and things like toys, school items, and clothing get mixed up easily. Labelling also helps maintain storage systems, as everyone knows where to put things back after using them.
However, if you are in a small household, knowing where things go becomes a habit quickly. The problem with labelling all containers is it limits the use of the storage box. Make sure labels are not too specific, and address what you always have in the home. For example, a “spaghetti” container is good if you always have spaghetti, but not good if you only buy it sporadically. If you want to reuse containers elsewhere or for different food items, then a label can be limiting. Be mindful of what labels are necessary for organising your home.
6. Think Green
When storing items, think about what you buy and how environmentally friendly it is. Can it be recycled, or can you use it for a long time? To be sustainable, constantly remind yourself of where our unwanted items go – the majority end up in landfills. Find ways to reduce what you throw away. Donate or give away old storage items. You will be surprised how many people appreciate such items.
If you get bored of your storage containers, repurpose them for use elsewhere around the home instead of buying more. Painting them is a quick solution for a change of colour. Spray paint is easy to buy and refreshes visual storage items instantly. When you do throw away containers, bags, and bins, put them in the recycling bin if possible. Be mindful about the waste your home creates and minimise it as much as you can. This is the easiest way to help protect our planet.