Clutter in your home creates a weight, in every sense of the word. From the physical weight of moving objects around to the mental weight of maintaining each item, to the emotional weight of retaining items out of guilt. Ultimately, having too much stuff can take a toll. With the documentary Minimalism hitting Netflix a few years ago, and now Marie Kondo teaching everyone how to declutter their homes, the idea of decluttering and downsizing seems to be everywhere these days. There are many reasons decluttering is healthy for the mind and home, but there are also side effects of decluttering including the waste produced during the purge. When figuring out what to do with the items you no longer covet, consider sustainable practices, your wallet and your mental health.
The mere act of clearing out the clutter is a step towards sustainability in your home. After all, that leaves less objects to clean, repair and carbon offset. It also removes the clutter from your mind. Once you get to the point of letting things go, it’s important to shift your subsequent buying habits so that you don’t accumulate unwanted items again.
So now that you’ve cleared out the excess things in your home, what do you do with all the stuff you’re getting rid of? With simplicity and eco-friendly practices in mind, the goal is to avoid sending even the smallest item to the landfill. Here are some options to consider.
Have a garage sale or sell items with online social media or community pages or apps on your phone. Type “Buy/Sell” into your Facebook search engine and you’re likely to find a local marketplace. If you’re overwhelmed by a large amount of items to sell, hire a local estate sale company to handle the task for you. Although it digs into your profits to pay someone else, it’s better than filling the dump with usable items.
Many cities have community pages online where you can offer up your goods as a “pay it forward” type of thing. By giving your belongings to someone who might need or want it, you’re ensuring a fuller life cycle and incurring less waste. You might even get someone to come pick it up, reducing the need to haul it away. For example, some people repair and resell appliances or lawn mowers so they will offer to pick yours up, saving you a lot of hassle.
Also, look into local drop boxes. Some areas have them on nearly every corner for usable clothing and shoes. If your city has a sharing station, such as a small shed that anyone can take from as needed, donate food and toiletries there. Also look for organizations like Love Inc, who help people get needed personal care items or organizations that assist people with clothing and personal care items needed for interviews to get a job.
Preschools, church childcare and homecare centers all appreciate the donation of toys is workable conditions. They might also accept a few changes of lightly used clothing to keep around in the case of potty or recess accidents.
Look to your local shelter for another donation option. From kid to adult sizes, shelters are always in need of warm clothing and coats. It’s also a good place to extend the life of blankets you no longer use and along with all those unopened hotel toiletries you store.
Of course, there is always the option of donating goods to local thrift shops as well.
When it comes to home improvement supplies, take the load to your local Habitat for Humanity. Some branches will even pick up at your location so you can let go of the extra lumber, roofing, flooring pieces and cement blocks you’ve been holding onto.
Not only does it feel good to know that you’re helping out others, but it’s rewarding to know that you’re also giving back to the environment by keeping items out of the waste stream.
An object may lose its usable value to you once it is broken, but remember that many things can be repaired with a little effort and perhaps a new part. It will also save you money to repair broken goods rather than to purchase a new one. Instead of tossing it directly towards the landfill, see if you can repair it and then either continue to use it, donate it or sell it.
Most areas have public recycling services either offered through city curbside pick up or as a centralized processing center where you can drop things off. You will want to check with your local recycling center to see what they allow, but most take metal, batteries, light bulbs, cardboard, glass, plastic jugs and paper. Often times they also have an electronics recycling station for TV, stereo and video recording equipment, along with the remotes and cables that go with them.
If you can’t find a way to sell, donate or recycle, consider repurposing your castaway items. Turn that old sweater into boot socks. Use t-shirts for automotive rags. Make a memory quilt with a loved one’s clothing. Just be sure that you don’t hold on to clutter with the intent of upcycling that will most likely never happen, or you’ll find yourself bogged down with the ‘stuff’ once again.
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