Eco-friendly decluttering – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle!

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After a rewarding and meaningful year as the President of the IFoA, I am taking some time now to tidy up my living spaces at home.

Over six decades and a forty-year career, I have accumulated many things – conference seminar materials, study notes, computers, storage disks, magazines and newspaper cuttings, mementoes and souvenirs from overseas trips, hobbies equipment, kitchen utensils & electronics, countless bags, luggage and apparels….The list goes on!

Two sources guide my decluttering and discarding process.


1. The KonMari method – Mindful decluttering

The KonMari method by home organisation expert & best-selling author Marie Kondo. Some general rules from her book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up”:

  • Start by discarding, by category, all at once, intensely and completely.
  • On papers – the rule of thumb is to discard everything.
  • Photos – cherish who you are now. Keep 5 photos per event.
  • Keep items that spark joy.

The approach can be a bit brutal. However, I find the rules quite effective psychologically and aims to get the reader past a “just right” click point. I would say my decluttering process so far is rather cathartic.

I also find support and encouragement by the philosophy of Pema Chodron and Wittgenstein’s Life of Supreme Simplicity.


2. Singapore National Environmental Agency – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

The website offers useful guides on how to carry out our discarding efforts well to protect our Mother Earth. The three R’s – Reduce, Reuse and Recycle aim to help cut down on the amount of waste we throw away. They conserve natural resources, landfill space and energy.

Singapore aims to be a “Zero Waste Nation” by reducing our consumption, as well as reusing and recycling the things we own to give them a second lease of life. In this spirit, I am sorting, arranging and recycling things that can be of use to others.

Over the years I have acquired and bought too many unnecessary things. I think one learns. We need only acquire things that we truly need and those that give us joy. This axiom is becoming more important as we are more aware of the impact of excessive consumption and its consequences on planet earth.