Guilty or Not Guilty? Environmental Guilt

If you are on social media or watch the news or even read the newspaper, you can’t miss hearing about what is happening with our environment, global warming, and the call to action to make more responsible environmental choices.  Insert Environmental Guilt.

The last 2 weeks we have discussed guilt associated with our stuff and how it can impact goals of decluttering and better organization.  Environmental guilt rounds out the top three (3) reasons we come across as barriers to decluttering.  

Environmental clutter is not about the physical space, it is about the desire to make good choices for the natural environment and reduce your carbon footprint.  Often times clutter has built up as a result of the guilt attached to throwing items away that “might be useful”.  Also, the clutter has happened because of “rescuing” items you see from ending up in the trash. 

Like emotional guilt, you can end up with too many items that, while still useful, are not actually being used because you don’t need it, or it does not have a home that allows it to be used.  So, while you may be left with a positive feeling about not adding to the trash, you are left with negative emotions about how your space functions or more likely, does not function.  

Keeping items that can be reused or repurposed has to follow the same rules as any other items in your space.  It needs a home and/or it needs a purpose.  If it does not fit either of those categories, then the next best thing is to get it to people/organizations that can give it a home or purpose. Over the last 22 years of organizing, we have compiled quite a list of places and people to donate or sell to.  We view the garbage as a last resort (unless it is truly garbage).

Examples of places to donate/sell to are;





Refugee placement agencies


Vintage shops

Community programs – job placement programs, senior programs, rehoming/restart programs etc…

Metal recycling

Electronics recycling

Textile Recycling

Household Hazardous Waste recycling

Furniture restoration and repurposing 

Pay it forward programs 

….and more!

Your compassion and care for the environment is commendable, however, if it begins to impact how you are able to live and function in your own environment, it’s time to reassess how you can best take care of the natural environment AND your personal environment. You need to give yourself permission for a fresh start.  

As you have learned over the past three (3) weeks while reading these articles, in order to diminish the guilt, you must learn to forgive yourself and give permission to take back your space and embrace what makes you happy.  Let the guilt go.  

About Pauline

Pauline Hoffman, CPO® founded Just In Time Solutions in November of 2001. Her clients feel comfortable and at ease as they make important, and sometimes daunting decisions about their space and belongings. Clients often comment how much easier their lives have become, which allows them to maintain a more independent lifestyle, regardless of age and/or ability.

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