Ethical decluttering does not mean throwing everything out yet on the same hand ethically decluttering takes time,  if it has taken ten years to accumulate the clutter, do not expect to sort and ethically declutter in one afternoon. You can certainly hire a skip bin and throw everything out, but that is not decluttering, that’s adding to landfill and too many times we see treasurers being throw away, causing real pain and stress.

Here are a few simple tips to help you ethically declutter

  • Don’t try to tackle everything at once.
  • Work one area at a TIME.
  • Complete a section before moving onto the next project.

5 simple steps  to ethically declutter

Step 1. Organise your tools

You will need

  • A garbage bin or bags for the things that are broken and cannot be repaired or recycled
  • A recycle bin
  • 3 containers such as cardboard boxes and label them stay, donate and return.

Once you have your tools it’s time to clear a work space, such as a table or a bench top

Please do not declutter working in dark cramped spaces, this can be dangerous and not overly inspiring. Remember it’s ok to add your favourite music to the mix. Once you have your work space organised the next step is to START.

Step 2. Start small

  • Start small; start with a drawer or a shelf.

This is very important, do not empty a large cupboard, pantry, wardrobe etc; start by emptying a drawer or a shelf. We are working in bite sizes first. Too many people fail when they pull everything out of the cupboard, pile it in one big heap, and then sit there dumbfounded because they don’t know where to start.

After ten years as a professional Eco Organiser® the feedback from people that have tried this and failed, say they felt overwhelmed and simply put everything back and closed the doors and felt like a failure. Our tip is always start small until you feel confident and comfortable before moving onto to working on a larger scale

Step 3.  Sort items 

  • Sort into garbage, recycling, stay, donate and return and place into the relevant container.

What’s a return?

Returns are the things that do not below in this space; they should live elsewhere in the house/office or belong to someone else and needs to be returned.

Once you have finished sorting and decluttering this space, that is when and only then you take your returns box and return things to their relevant homes. Guaranteed if you interrupt this process and return items before you finish your space, you are less likely to complete this space.


You are full on into decluttering mode, feeling confident. When you get to this new location you are still in declutter mode, you say to yourself “Oh while I am here I will just declutter this drawer” taking you away from our original project

What’s a Stay?

Stays are the things that will stay in this space; they are relevant to the function of this space

Step  4. Only put back what you need and want.

  • Quickly clean the space and only put back in space the contents of your stay container.

Step  5. Responsible Disposal 

  • Recycle everything that can be recycled and only donate quality items, we call it responsible disposal. Remove these items as soon as possible. The trick is to not stock pile your clutter at the front door, in the boot of your car. You have made the decision to declutter your life, and this is the first step to reduce the clutter in your space. To make life easier check out Useful Links for over 100 ways to responsibly dispose of unwanted items

That’s it, you have ethically decluttered

You have instantly created space, reduced your housework and reduce the amount of time you spend looking for stuff.

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