Monday, March 17, 2014

My year of less is more: what to do with all your clutter (once you've decluttered it)



 Here's the question that has challenged me the most regularly in this whole decluttering blitz.  What do you do with your stuff once you've sorted through it and decided that you don't need it anymore?  I think this is one of the big challenges of decluttering because you don't want to create more landfill.  And I have to admit that I am really hopeless at thinking creatively about the removal of my stuff (beyond 'that can go in the recycling bin') so I'm just starting to think carefully through this for myself.

In my head I have a list of questions I ask myself when I have things I'd like to get rid of.  Could I SHARE this with someone?  Could I GIVE it to someone?  Could I SELL this item? Can I REUSE this item for another purpose (and an immediate purpose, not a 'I might one day make something with that'), can it be RECYCLED, then landfill if desperate.  I have signed up for Freecycle to get rid of a few items but I am yet to try it out.  Often your local council will have a recycling programme too.  I often find that just asking around on Facebook or our community, I can pass on good quality items.

So here are my paltry ideas thus far (yes, I need to work on it a bit more, but it's a start):

Clothing:  find someone who has kids younger than yours and pass kid's clothes onto them,
donate them to a charity, sell them online, have a clothes swapping party (and have an adult one and a kid's one).

Household items and good quality linen: use old teapots and pots and pans, as pot plant holders, throw out broken and rusty pots but recycle as much as possible. If it's good stuff ask around and see if anyone needs it (I got some great saucepans from a friend last year who had moved and her new stove needed special saucepans).  Make contact with a new migrant group that is helping refugees get settled.

Old technology:  It's hard to pass this kind of stuff on, but if you do a little bit of looking around, often local councils have recycling for old computers and you can recycle old phones at phone shops.  If you have kids who've grown out of computer games, younger kids are often still keen on them (my boys got some great games from a work colleague who's older son was clearing out his DS games).

Toys:  Chuck out rubbish (it is what it is and if you feel bad about doing this, it will slow you down the next time you decide to buy a box of plastic whatever).  Give good quality toys away.  If you have the energy sell them.  If someone else doesn't want to keep it forever, just lend the toys and keep passing them around your community.  You could also host a toy swapping party.

Bits of naff stuff like memorabilia:  Stuff that I don't want but looks OK, I keep to donate it to our school's white elephant stall.  If it's sentimental, someone else in your extended family might want it.

Craft:  (now this topic is another entire post and I have yet to conquer Mt Craft Declutter) Keep an ear out for people who like the same kind of craft as you and see if they need extra supplies.  I got some great fabric from a friend who was decluttering her fabric collection recently and I actually used a lot of it.  I have given left over wool to people who knit/crochet blankets for those in need.

Books:  donate them to a fete, sell them to a second bookstore (a reader recently contacted me with some of her successes doing this, although no one was interested in buying JK Rowling's 'The Casual Vacancy'…!), they can be recycled, find a charity that gives books to the homeless or sends them to schools overseas.  Libraries will sometimes take them (but not always, a lot don't take second hand books).  Create your own sidewalk library and give books away for free.





I have compiled this list in a very short time so I'm hoping this can start a discussion with both your specific questions about particular items and also some creative solutions on how to get rid of stuff.  Hopefully this whole exhausting process of removing stuff from our lives will be confronting enough to remind us to not keep consuming and acquiring new stuff at the same rate.

8 comments:

Libby said...

Selected Harvey Normans and Officeworks take old electronics/computers/printers for recycling too.

Kindergartens and Preschools might be keen on your old craft things too. I know ours are.

Sarah said...

That's a fantastic list. I try to sell stuff online (either eBay or Facebook buy, swap and sell groups). It is exhausting and time consuming though with taking photos, creating listings etc.
Our local school is having a fete this weekend so I'm considering having a car boot sale at that.
Church crèches and cry rooms often need more toys (ours does) or toy libraries and daycares might if they're in good condition.
Freecycle is great! I've got rid of so much stuff that way. Definitely worth being a part of.

Alison said...

Technical Aid to the Disabled take old computer equipment and refurbish it for people with disabilities.

Margaret said...

I have had great success putting unwanted stuff on Gumtree for free or really cheap. Mostly things that are still usable but not worth anything. I am always delighted to see it go to a new home and not to landfill. I had a young family take away an old but usable sofa bed and some trikes. They were delighted and I was delighted! Most free stuff gets taken the same day I post it. Awesome.

catherine said...

We had a council clean up this weekend. I put a whole lot of stuff in good condition out on the nature strip hoping they'd find new homes. I was prepared to bring it all back in before the trucks came around to collect it to take to landfill. Thankfully, there are enough people in our local area who are happy to take it, so everything went except a very small box of things. All sorts of unwanted kids toys, furniture, tools etc. And my kids loved spotting out of the window to see how quickly they'd be taken. 1 minute was the record :)

Bek McClellan said...

In Victoria Prison fellowship take old books (all sort of books), prisoners have lots of time for reading. There are also Assylum Seekers Resource Centre in Melbourne and Sydney that take donations of all kinds. Recently came across a Melbourne mob who do up old bikes for Assyulm Seekers. Lots of places to give away

Emily said...

Fine music FM radio will collect(!!!) books and cds. They sell them at their book fair to help fund the community radio station. Other things have gone to a friend moving out of home, vinnies or eBay.

Anonymous said...

I wanted to get rid of a lot of my old Christian books. As I live in a non-English speaking country, it was hard to find someone to take them. Then I stumbled across a group in the internet who send them to Bible colleges in Africa. And they really wanted older books too. I had to pay the postage to send them over to England but it was more than worth it when they wrote to tell me the books are now on their way to a Bible school in Kenya!