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Sustainable Decluttering: How to Responsibly Get Rid of Unwanted Items

Sustainable Decluttering: How to Responsibly Get Rid of Unwanted Items

Today’s post is all about sustainable decluttering and how you can responsibly get rid of unwanted items as you’re decluttering.

There are many benefits to clearing the clutter from your home and life. More time, more space, less stress and more time for the people you love are just some of my favourite benefits of decluttering.

But as you’re decluttering, you might also be looking for ways to declutter sustainably. Without unnecessarily contributing to waste or adding to the landfills. There are simple things you can do to declutter and simplify your life in an environmentally conscious manner by sustainably decluttering.

Sustainable decluttering not only reduces waste but also minimizes your carbon footprint. Making decluttering good for your home and for the planet!

In today’s post, we’ll explore eco-friendly ways to declutter by recycling, upcycling, donating and selling items to responsibly get rid of unwanted items.

Why Sustainable Decluttering Matters

Sustainable decluttering is a win-win situation. It helps you create a cleaner and more organized living space while also reducing your environmental impact. Here’s why it matters:

Reduced Waste

Instead of tossing unwanted items into the trash as you’re decluttering, which will end up in landfills. Sustainable decluttering makes an effort to minimize waste and find alternative ways to dispose of items instead.

Lower Environmental Impact

By recycling, upcycling, donating, or selling items, you reduce the need for new production, saving energy and resources.

Supporting Charities

Donating items can help those in need and support charities working to help those in need, turning your decluttering efforts into a force for good.

Steps for Sustainable Decluttering

1. Assess Your Items

The first step to sustainable decluttering is actually doing the decluttering!

Begin by taking stock of what you have. Identify items you no longer need, use, or love. Sort them into categories like clothing, electronics, furniture, and household items.

Once you have items you’re ready to let go of and declutter, the next step is finding ways to get rid of them in the most environmentally friendly ways.

2. Recycling

Recycling is a great way to focus on sustainable decluttering. There are many different ways you can recycle items you’re decluttering, including:

  • Electronics: Many towns and cities have designated e-waste recycling programs. Contact your local recycling center or electronics stores for drop-off locations.
  • Paper and Cardboard: Paper, magazines, cardboard boxes, and packaging materials can be easily recycled through your local recycling program.
  • Plastics, Glass, and Metals: Check the recycling guidelines in your area. Rinse containers and remove labels to ensure they meet recycling standards.

3. Donating

Donating gently used items is a wonderful way to extend their life and help those in need. If an item is still in good condition, but you don’t use, need or love it, someone else may be able to instead.

You can donate to local thrift stores, bigger chain thrift stores, churches, libraries, daycare centers, and more.

Do some research to find organizations in your community that accept donations and you feel good about supporting. Having a few “go to” places to donate items you’re getting rid of is a great way to make it easier to declutter and get items out of your home.

Here are some examples to consider:

  • Clothing: Donate to thrift stores, homeless shelters, or organizations like Dress for Success.
  • Furniture and Appliances: Many charities gladly accept these items to furnish homes for families in need.
  • Libraries: Many libraries accept books that are still in good condition to sell or add to their collections.
  • Daycare centers: Many daycare centers will accept gently used toys or books to add to their center.

Sometimes it can take a little bit of research to find organizations to take your donations, but it’s worth the effort. Not only does donating make it easy to get unwanted items out of your house. But you also can feel good about supporting organizations doing good in your community and helping those in need.

4. Selling

Selling unwanted items not only gives them a new home but also puts some cash in your pocket.

You can use online platforms like eBay, Craigslist, or Facebook Marketplace to reach potential buyers. Or alternatively, host a garage sale for local buyers.

Just remember that selling the items you’re decluttering takes quite a bit of time and effort on your part. You need to take pictures of items, list them for sale, communicate with potential buyers, arrange for pick up, drop off or shipping of items, account for people who don’t show up to pick up items, etc.

Decide for yourself if selling items is worth the time and effort required, or if you’d rather donate items instead. Often it’s helpful to set a minimum value that you’re able to sell items for, and only try selling items above that threshold.

5. Buy nothing groups

Another great alternative to donating or selling unwanted items is giving them away through “buy nothing groups”.

Many communities have buy nothing groups through Facebook where people can post unwanted items they are giving away. Rather than ending up in a landfill, these groups give people the opportunity to pass items along to someone who can use them.

We’ve even had luck posting broken appliances on buy nothing groups. When our dishwasher started leaking and it didn’t make sense to get it repaired, we posted it in a buy nothing group. Someone picked it up to use a different part for their broken dishwasher. Saving us from hauling it to the landfill and giving them the parts they needed!

6. Upcycling

Upcycling is the art of repurposing items into something new and useful. With a little creativity, there are lots of different ways you can upcycle items you’re decluttering:

  • Turn old clothing into rags or quilt squares
  • Transform wooden pallets into garden furniture
  • Repurpose glass jars as storage containers
  • Repurpose old boxes as drawer organizers
  • Frame a sentimental item, like a scarf or broach, to become wall decor

Upcycling not only prevents items from going to waste but also showcases your creativity.

Just make sure you’re not shuffling clutter from one spot to another in the name of upcycling. If you can truly use an item, upcycling is great. But if the item is just going to continue adding clutter to your home in a new way, upcycling might not be the best option.

Remember, keep what you can use or will love, but don’t shuffle clutter from one spot to another.

7. Dispose of items properly

As you’re decluttering, you’ll likely come across some items that aren’t in good enough condition to donate, sell or upcycle and need to be thrown away.

The key here is making sure any items you do need to throw away are disposed of properly, responsibly and safely to minimize harm to the environment.

For example, any hazardous materials, like old paint, batteries or chemicals, should be taken to a hazardous waste disposal facility rather than thrown out with your regular garbage.

Most pharmacies will accept old or expired medications and dispose of them properly.

Tips for Successful Sustainable Decluttering

Start small

Start small and declutter one area at a time to prevent getting overwhelmed. Sustainable decluttering takes a little more time and intention than simply throwing unwanted items away. So give yourself extra time when you’re decluttering to account for how you’ll get rid of the items.

Set realistic goals and timelines to maintain motivation as you’re decluttering. Remember that you’ll need time to sort through your spaces and find ways to get rid of the items you’re decluttering.

Research ahead of time

Before you start decluttering, research local recycling and donation options to make the process smoother.

It will be easier if you already know what options are available to you before you start decluttering and have piles and boxes of stuff to get out of your house!

Be a mindful consumer

After decluttering, become a mindful consumer by buying and bringing less into your home to begin with. Make careful and intentional purchase decisions so you have less stuff that you’ll end up decluttering in the future.

Aim to buy higher quality items that will last so you can use them for years to come, rather than buying new items more often. This not only reduces waste but can also save you money in the long run.

Sustainable decluttering

Sustainable decluttering is an eco-conscious way to simplify your life while benefiting the environment and your community.

By decluttering unwanted items sustainably, you can reduce waste, lower your environmental impact, and make a positive contribution to those in need. Next time you’re decluttering, consider the sustainable approach for a cleaner, greener, and more organized life.

Sustainable Decluttering: How to Responsibly Get Rid of Unwanted Items
Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

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