Go a little bit greener this spring and declutter like a pro with these tips!
Spring cleaning may be on your mind, but we have an alternate suggestion for you—one that ties right into our Earth Day theme… Spring Decluttering. Decluttering has many benefits—one of which is at the end, you’ll have less stuff. And that means less stuff to clean, or to clean around or find places for.
This month, we’re highlighting not just the decluttering process…but also the “Now what do I do with all the STUFF I’m getting rid of?” question. Which, honestly, is probably the biggest barrier for a lot of folks—they are fine with the idea of purging their closets and dressers and storage spaces, but how to get rid of it in an environmentally and socially responsible way can be a bit overwhelming.
We’re here to help! Follow along as we celebrate Earth Day by sharing five ways to dispose of your decluttering efforts like a boss!
Reducing clutter can have real impacts on your emotional, physical, social, and financial wellbeing by:
✔ Giving you more space
✔ Helping you identify what you value in life
✔ Reducing daily stress
✔ Helping you save (and make!) money
✔ Encouraging you to be happier and healthier
✔ Freeing up your time
✔ Encouraging letting go of the past
(Bonus: decluttering doesn’t involve scrubbing showers or running the self-clean option on your oven. It has a much lower yuck factor!)
Five Ways to Get Rid of Clutter
One unfortunate byproduct of decluttering is the piles upon piles of junk left to discard. It behooves you to start thinking about what you want to do with the items you declutter before you even start decluttering. Choosing a mindset of reuse vs. a discard-mindset will be a more environmentally friendly approach to decluttering
There are five basic ways to get rid of items:
● Sell the items
● Donate the items
● Repurpose the items (not necessarily “getting rid of”; more like “giving new life”)
● Recycle the items
● Toss the items
Gather five large bins or cardboard boxes and label each bin for its corresponding decluttering category: sell, donate, recycle, repurpose, and trash. Trashing should be the final option and only used if the other methods of discarding are not applicable.
Selling unwanted items is a great way to make a little money and avoid the “wasting money guilt,” while providing someone else with something they may treasure. It is a win-win for everyone.
Here are some selling options:
● HOLD A YARD/GARAGE SALE—If you have a lot of stuff to get rid of at once you can host a yard or garage sale.
is another online resale website that focuses on used fashions.
is an app that allows you to sell used books, CDs, DVDs, tablets, consoles, games, and other tech.
—Vintage clothing and books, button collections, stamps, you can find all sorts of secondhand items for sale on Etsy.
● FACEBOOK MARKETPLACE
is like Craigslist, but many people say it feels slightly “safer” because you have access to seller/buyer profiles.
Donating can be a great option for items that cannot be sold or if you feel you don’t have the time to spend selling. You can feel good that you are helping reduce waste as well as providing much-needed resources to people who wouldn’t otherwise have access to them.
● Local libraries, daycare, hospitals, and retirement communities
● Little Free Libraries
● Better World Books
is a reseller of books that uses a portion of its proceeds to fund literacy causes, as well as donates books to those in need, and a number of other charitable actions.
CAR SEAT DONATION
● Target occasionally holds a car seat recycling events.
Some states have programs in place for recycling car seats. Here is a list of the various states and resources for car seat recycling
● The Salvation Army
● Dress for Success
is an organization that helps empower women to achieve economic independence by providing a network of support, professional attire, and the development tools to help women thrive in work and in life.
● Drop off bins at a local library or local grocery store
● Secure the Call
is an organizatoin that takes old phones, refurbishes them, and provides the phone and a charger to individuals who are not only in need but also at a high risk for needing emergency services but have no phone of their own to access 9-1-1.
● Online search (donation + your zip code)
Goodwill – Goodwill
is one of the most popular and widespread locations that accept most donations, from clothing to knick-knacks to books.
● Habitat for Humanity
– They accept used furniture, appliances, and building materials, among other things.
DONATIONS FOR VETERANS
Maybe you don’t love an item right now, but you have some attachment to it, and you don’t want to let it go. Consider brainstorming ways to repurpose or upcycle items so that you might love them again! Here are some fun upcycling ideas:
Turn old baby clothing into a quilt.
Repurpose treasured T-shirts into scarves, pillows, or blankets. Try making a purse or tote from old blue jeans. Turn singleton socks
into bean bags, tea cozies, arm warmers, toys, and more!
● Use some spray paint to breathe new life into old items--glam up that wheelbarrow, take an old coffee table and turn it into a cute side table for your patio, take old terracotta pots and transform them into matching storage bins.
● You can make planters and container gardens out of almost ANYTHING! Old boots, spray painted tires, that newly glammed up wheelbarrow, empty soda bottles, mugs, you name it!
● Upcycled pallets make an inexpensive choice for handmade patio furniture. Add a few colorful throw pillows, and you have eco-friendly, trendy outdoor seating!
If you need some inspiration for ideas on ways to repurpose and upcycle household items, a great place to look is Pinterest.
You can also find tips on upcycling in our Earth Day feature this month!
From clothing to phones and everything in between, most items can be recycled. Here are some resources that allow you to give your junk a second chance at life.
H&M – If you have clothing that is too worn to donate or sell, you can take them to H&M
, where they will be used for textile recycling. You get a 15% off coupon for use at H&M for every bag you donate.
Levi’s – Take old clothing to Levi’s and you can save 20% off a single item when you buy. Find out more at the Levi's website
● Local dropoff bins – Many local malls and shopping centers have drop-off bins that accept items. Pay attention to the rules on each bin.
Re-Told Recycling—Fill your bag with any textile in the home. Each bag has a pre-paid label attached to ship via USPS. They will sort and send goods to thrift stores, donation centers and up-cyclers. Nothing in the bag will go to the landfill! Click here
to learn more.
ELECTRONICS AND OFFICE SUPPLIES
● Apple –You can trade in your old phone to Apple and receive an Apple gift card. Find out more here. https://www.apple.com/shop/trade-in
● Staples – This store accepts electronics and ink cartridges for recycling; see a complete list of details at their website. https://www.staples.com/sbd/cre/marketing/sustainability-center/recycling-services/electronics/
● AutoZone – Donate your old car battery and receive a $10 AutoZone gift card.
Best Buy – Old electronics, tech, and ink cartridges can be recycled at Best Buy and you can receive discounts for doing so. See the complete list here
● Pharmacies – Check with your local Walgreens or other pharmacy and see if they have drop-boxes for expired medications.
● Some local doctor’s offices also accept donations of used/expired medications.
● There is a big push for reusable bags nowadays and many grocery stores now have a bag at the entrance to accept used plastic bags for recycling.
TerraCycle is perhaps the best option for recycling footwear;
they accept all types of shoes, including sandals, wedges, sneakers, flats, clogs, boots, heels, wedges and five toe shoes. There is a flat-rate fee which covers the shipping box and shipment.
Oral care company Colgate has partnered with TerraCycle to create a free recycling program for oral care product packaging. Get more info at their website
ALL (OR ALMOST ALL) THE THINGS!
TerraCycle has myriad options for keeping items out of the landfill. For a fee, their #RecycleAnything program
offers zero-waste boxes for nearly anything you can think of (shoes being just one example). The flat rate includes the box, as well as shipping all of the items to their facilities. Plus, they also offer free partnerships with many brands for programs for recycling items
that may otherwise end up on the trash (like toothbrushes and floss picks): you'll find programs for everything from Babybel® cheese packages to Gatorade® energy bar wrappers; Calphalon® pans to Tom’s® toothpaste tubes. Finally, they offer options to shop items made from recycled goods, as well as a chance to get your favorite consumable brands/products in reusable packaging.
5) TOSS IT
This is it; the final option for items that have no place for recycling, donation, repurposing, or selling. If you have no options left, as a last resort you can throw away items that you no longer want. After all, you shouldn’t allow your house to become a trash can.