I have read a lot of books on decluttering, minimalism and voluntary simplicity. I read them mostly because it heartens me to learn of like-minded people in the world discovering the joy of discovering “enough.”
The newly published Less Stuff by Lindsay Miles is one of the better decluttering books I have read lately.
Miles covers the standard topics of how pleasing it is to live in a calm, ordered space and how to process your objects room by room and category by category by sorting them into keep, donate, repair, reuse, recycle and trash piles/boxes and then getting them where they need to be.
Where her book excels is in dealing with the responsibility of letting go of those objects in a way that is not harmful to the environment. It was one of her original difficulties in decluttering until
“Then I had an epiphany, a realization that decluttering and caring about waste actually go hand in hand. Decluttering doesn’t have to be about wasting stuff. It’s about identifying stuff that we own that is going to waste (because we don’t use it, or don’t like it, or don’t need it) and finding a better place for it: a place where it will actually be used. Decluttering does not have to mean landfill. We can find new homes for our things, or places where the resources can be used again. Actually, it’s an important part of the process. Decluttering can be the opposite of waste.
… I’ve redefined how I think of waste, too. If I have things I no longer need, I can let go of them responsibly. I may not need them, but if they still have life in them, they can be passed on to someone who can make use of them. It is more wasteful to keep things I don’t need than it is to let them be used to their full potential.” (italics mine)
She gives lots of resources in the book for places and methods for finding new homes for our stuff. She notes that this takes more time and effort than just dropping everything at the charity shop or the landfill, but that it helps us be more mindful of what we have accumulated that we don’t need. Then we can do the emotional work of discovering why we allowed ownership in the first place, which is important to preventing new clutter from coming in.
And lastly, I like that she advocates for responsible divestment, even when it costs you more money. If something is broken and you give it to a charity shop, it will likely end up in the landfill. If you fix it before you donate it, it has a much better chance of finding a new purposeful home.