The 80:20 principle says that you will use 80% of your things 20% of the time – and 20% of your things 80% of the time. The fact is that most of us have plenty of stuff in cupboards, drawers, sheds and garages that we NEVER use!!!

It is worth considering why we don’t use things so that we can make better decisions – a few ideas are:

  1. It was bought for a one-off purpose
  2. It was bought for a purpose that’s it’s not suitable for
  3. It doesn’t really do what it was bought for
  4. It was bought on a whim
  5. It is out of fashion
  6. It isn’t needed anymore
  7. It was a present you didn’t want
  8. It is boring
  9. It has become obsolete or superceded
  10. It is broken

All of these issues can be minimised and some of them can be avoided completely. Stuff that is bought for a one-off purpose could have been rented or borrowed. More consideration given to purchases will help avoid ‘impulse buying’. Fast-changing (seasonal) fashion is an unsustainable phenomenon; designers (and consumers) need to look at more enduring styles, eco-friendly materials and quality workmanship instead.

If you never use something there is no point keeping it – it is using up valuable room and it could be productively used by someone who needs it. If you have disused items please sell them (online, garage sale, newspaper) or give them away (family/friends, charity, recycling). Broken or worn out items could be repaired or used as parts.

The longer the lifespan of products the better for the environment so the most sustainable products are likely to be:

  1. Good quality, well made
  2. Well maintained
  3. Suited to purpose
  4. Used properly
  5. Classic i.e. not fashionable
  6. Non-disposable, built to last