How to De-clutter Sustainably – Part 1

Do you have a lot of stuff? Have you ever wanted to reduce your amount of stuff but didn’t know what to do with it? We certainly do! Today’s advice will provide some ways you can eliminate some of your old items in what we consider the “best ways.” What do we mean by the best ways? These are ways that are contributing to multiple elements of sustainability, not just recycling, including economically and socially.

We recently bought a new home and combined our lives, which included all of our things! Many of these things are items we no longer need, or can no longer use. On the one hand, it is a great feeling to “de-clutter” your life, but it can be a pain to do, and for us, we were concerned about what would happen to the things we got rid of. Selling items is always great because you’ll get some money back, but it can be difficult, time-consuming, and even scary to do! So we’ve been researching the ways we can get rid of things so that we can feel good about where they went and feel the freedom of having more space and less clutter!

The next several posts we’ve broken out into categories to make it easier. If you have other items in your life you’re looking to offload and would like some advice on the most sustainable way to do so, please feel free to reach out!

Sustainable Living Tip(s) #3:

Clothes and Household Misc. Items

This category (if you’re anything like us) is likely your largest one! What do you do with all of those clothes you no longer wear, the clothes your kids have outgrown? What do you do with that vase that you hate or the old video game consoles or that old set of dishes? Have no fear, there are many options!

  • Sell it – this would be the best for your wallet, however it can be tedious and difficult.
    • Apps and websites like Ebay, Craigslist and Offerup can be great, but they require that you deal with strangers or shipping and typically the amount of money you are getting makes the hassle almost not worth it.
    • You can hire someone, even just a friend or neighbor, to help you sell the items for a percentage or a flat fee, but that can also make it not worth the effort!
    • You would be surprised the things you can sell through these websites and apps, however, so this might the best route for some of your more valuable items. Beware of scams out there trying to “wire” you money because they aren’t in the area, or predators trolling these posts to come after you or your information. Never go anywhere alone and never give out your personal information.
  • Donate to a store – donation in general is the big one and can be so rewarding for you, and the most sustainable option in all categories!
    • One of our favorite places to donate items to and even shop at is located in Simi Valley, California and is called Second Story: A Thrifty Boutique
    • This shop accepts gently used clothing, furniture, and household items that they re-sell and re-purpose.
    • The best part? This organization rescues and restores victims of human trafficking, specifically women and children.
    • When you donate items to this shop or purchase from them, you are living the sustainable life by contributing to the betterment of people.

Look for locations such as these to donate your items so you’re giving back to society! Also don’t forget the tax write-off you can get for it. If you need help finding these locations in your town, please feel free to contact us and we will help track them down.

  • Donate your items to a local project/drive – donation in general is the big one and can be so rewarding for you, and the most sustainable option in all categories!
    • Projects out there exist that will take your clothes, new or used, and donate them to those in need
      • Connect with your local Rotary club and we guarantee they will know what to do with your items so they get the best use.
    • One of our favorite projects is The Grateful Garment Project which takes donations of clothes, toiletries, etc., and provides them to victims of sexual assault.
    • “The Vision of TGGP is that no victim of sexual violence in our communities should ever experience further suffering due to a lack of clothing to wear home after he or she receives services from a Sexual Violence Service Provider.”
    • A simple option would be a Coats for Kids drive.
      • We know our club does one every year starting in October and the coats go to all the local organizations that provide for those in need.
  • Haven’t been able to find a project, event, or donation store to take your items? Donate them directly to your local non-profits
    • Organization such as United Way, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Family Care Network, RISE, Community Centers, and so many more would be willing to take your donations or can direct you to somewhere that will.
  • Is your item too old and used to be donated? – Find ways to dump it that are legal and non harmful
    • Before you dump, be sure to check out the lists of items that cannot go in a dumpster: https://www.bestdumpsterdeals.com/resources/dumpster-etiquette-what-you-can-and-cant-dump.aspx
    • Waste rules can vary with your location, so be sure to call your city officials and ask the best way to get rid of your items. Many cities offer services for hauling away old furniture and other items for free.
    • Many cities will also offer an “open trash day” where your local trash collection agencies will pick up any item you need to dispose of. If you aren’t already aware of when these days are, contact your city and find out, so that you can add it to your calendar be prepared. Adding this date to your calendar could also be useful for giving yourself a hard deadline on completing your “de-clutterization!”
    • Another option but isn’t free is to use a service like 1-800-GOT-JUNK. They will pick up any and everything you want to dispose of and charge an all inclusive fee to do so.

Whatever method you decide to use to reduce your amount of “stuff,” just remember to stop and think about where it’s going.

The easiest way to live sustainably when it comes to stuff is simple: stop buying so much “stuff.”

This is the hardest thing to do, however, we certainly experience it! It’s difficult to not want the latest and greatest model, to have things that look nice, to pass up a great deal and buy in bulk. But if you stop just buying and start thinking, “do I really need that?” and “is there a sustainability component related to this item?” then you’ll be making the greatest step you can to improving. Think about how long the product will last, think about if there are ways you can get that item already used, and think about what will happen to that item when you are finished with it.

Changing the way we think is the most important and the #1 step toward living in a sustainable society.

“Once your mindset changes, everything on the outside will change along with it.” – Steve Maraboli

4 thoughts on “How to De-clutter Sustainably – Part 1

  1. This is exactly what I needed especially since I have been overwhelmed and procrastinating from decluttering and also cleaning my bathroom. I need to fast track it to get it done before Sunday because that’s when I am picking up my bf from the airport. Thanks for sharing your tips and tricks!

    ❤ Alana

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  2. My ‘stuff’ goes to several different sources – newspapers (yes we still get the old fashioned kind) to local vets who shred them for bedding; clothing and shoes to a local church ladies guild or to homeless shelters; towels and bedding to the animal welfare league for winter bedding for the strays; left over food to a neighbour with three dogs and subsisting on a pension…it feels good to know that what we pass on is needed and appreciated 🙂

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