The environmental mantra of “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” is a great one for cutting down on the waste you create in your life, but it can have its downside if you aren’t careful. You can hit the reuse part of the rule too hard, and have more of a mess in your home than you can deal with. You have to make sure that the things you’re saving for reuse really will be reused. Otherwise it makes more sense to just get rid of them.
This can be difficult. If you’re really going to reuse something, I’m not a fan of getting rid of it just because you can get a new one later. That’s the kind of waste you’re trying to avoid. However, if a new one will naturally come into your life later, such as with jars and other food containers you may enjoy reusing, you should limit how many you save to the quantity you’re likely to need soon.
If it’s something you aren’t likely to need for a long time, make sure you’re storing it well. Clothes that don’t fit should first be looked at in terms of whether or not they’ll still be in style when they do fit again. If they’re a clothing basic, don’t keep them with your other clothes – find a better place to store them where they aren’t taking up space you need right now. Just be realistic about whether or not you’re going to wear them again.
You can always send old clothes to the thrift store so that someone else will get to reuse them if you can’t do so yourself. No one ever said you have to be the one reusing. Just make it possible for someone else to reuse your old things rather than throwing them into the trash.
If your kids are like mine and love using found items for crafts, keep appropriate limits on what they can keep. Don’t let them keep every piece of junk mail, every bit of interesting plastic, every leaf, and so forth. Allow them to keep enough to encourage their creativity, but not so much that the mess challenges your sanity. A good storage container for holding their craft supplies can help you to give them a natural limit. When the container is full, they can’t have more craft supplies until they make room for them.
Keep in mind that you aren’t helping the environment by holding onto things that should be passed on to others who really will reuse them. If you aren’t reusing recyclable products, that’s more new materials that may be used to make products that might have come from the recyclables cluttering your home. Keep that balance, hold onto the things that you really will reuse, and allow the rest to continue in the cycle in the most environmentally friendly way you can.