On Decluttering Ethically

I came across a guest post on Unclutter.com – by Evelyn Rennich titled “Declutter Ethically – How to Responsibly Discard Unwanted Stuff.” Its a subject many power… how to get rid of ones clutter responsibly. Have a read:

Cleaning out closets might be the great American past time for 2019. Inspired by the new Netflix show, Tidying up with Marie, Americans are diving in headfirst to the task of simplifying their belongings.Offloading unwanted stuff is a positive trend—our homes will feel lighter, more manageable and more organized. But what we do with unwanted stuff will mark whether this latest declutter movement will be a good thing for the nation and our world.

Don’t Just “Throw Away”

One of the complaints about the “KonMari System”as Marie Kondo, author of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, calls it, is that when she calls for an item to be discarded, she sometimes says “throw away.” Of course, if every person tossed everything which no longer “sparked joy” for them, the landfills would not be able to hold the volume.

Decluttering our homes is a good thing, but in order for that good to be effective, we must discard the thing leaving our possessions thoughtfully and respectfully.

Here are some guidelines to declutter ethically. When you are de-owning things, try to get rid of them in the following order:

1) Give directly away to someone who genuinely needs (or wants) the item.

Items best given directly are family heirlooms—that quilt your grandmother made might mean more to your niece than it does to you. Also in this category? High-quality items that could save a friend or family member some money if they are going to purchase a similar thing anyways. When you gift items, make sure that the other person genuinely needs or wants it instead of merely using this as an excuse to offload stuff.

2) Sell the thing. 

Selling stuff is a good idea if the items are worth enough money to offset the hassle of selling and/or shipping. If you have items which are worth selling and the profit is a good enough margin to “pay off” the trouble of listing it online or taking it to ship, then go for it.

3) Donate the item to smaller, local programs that you can get to know and get involved in.

If you’re not going to give the item away directly or sell it, then a small, reputable program might be your next best place to take items. Smaller, local shelters or aid programs are great because often they have a better handle on exactly what is needed and how the items are being used. You can also get involved by volunteering and fostering local partnerships. Helping your local shelters and aid programs is a great way to strengthen your very own community.

4) Donate the item to a well-reputed larger donation store. 

Charity resell stores such as Goodwill, Oxfam or the Salvation Army are okay for dropping off your unwanted goods. The items are not going to landfills (yet); shopping second-hand is a super way to go green. Do research to find out which of these charity resell shops has the best reputation and financial transparency in your area.

5) Discard the items appropriately.

For items that are not sellable or in good enough condition to donate or give away, make sure you discard the thing appropriately. Take threadbare or stained clothing to a textile recycling program which will reuse the fibers to create a new product. Reuse old clothing as painting shirts or cleaning rags.

Ripped or stained towels or blankets can be donated to pet rescue programs. Take mattresses to a mattress recycling program—most can be dismantled and the parts can be reused in different products.

Always dispose of hazardous waste carefully. Take paint, batteries, electronics and the like to hazardous waste centers or electronic recycling centers.

6) Discard in trash/landfill as a last resort.

Try to save the landfill bin as a last resort for discarding items. Many things can be upcycled and reused for a plethora of different uses. Just remember that there is no “away.” When you toss something in the trash, it still exists in a landfill. Let’s do our best to save space in those landfills and not overburden the earth with the weight of our unwanted junk.

As we declutter and lighten up our homes, we have an opportunity to make a positive impact on this planet for generations to come. We can eke out every last bit of usability from the items we own. We can do our best to ensure that the things leaving our ownership are discarded appropriately. And we can think twice about what we bring into our homes to reduce the volume of stuff that has to be discarded later.

declutter ethically

Evelyn is a writer and speaker who encourages women to uncover their best by living with less. She is passionate about functional minimalism, home educating her four young children, faith and intentionally “living small.” Find her thoughts at www.smallishblog.com

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