To Have and Re-home: Responsible Decluttering…
This is part two in our two-part series on decluttering, in a post-Kondo world where charity shops are bursting at the seams. In part one, we looked at ways to help stop clutter at the source. In part two, we consider some strategies to deal with clutter that’s already lurking in the home. Without resorting to piles of black plastic bags.
Modern life. It’s really well set up to help us buy something, but less convenient at helping us at the end of that item’s useful life. Decluttering responsibly can be a challenge, but it is possible. Here are a few suggestions the ecostore team uses to clean up, without messing up the planet.
Use it up, wear it out
The process of decluttering lets you know exactly what you have. This is extra helpful if your clutter consists of half-finished bottles of shampoo. Use the decluttering process to remind you what you have, so you can use it up, rather than automatically restocking. Ecostore offers refill or bulk options for many products too, so you can cut down on packaging when you do need to restock everyday items.
Take it slowly
It’s taken years to accumulate. And you might be champing at the bit to see the floor again. But faster doesn’t always equal better. An extreme, rapid declutter might not give you enough time to consider and organise, so you make sure that everything you're getting rid of finds the best new home. For example, it’s probably faster to rent a skip for that old bike, than it is to find a workshop where it can be fixed.
Do your research
With a bit of planning and sorting your clutter into categories, you can support your local community organisations and give unused items a new life. For example, good quality clothes donated to Dress for Success could give a confidence boost to someone re-entering the workforce. The SPCA uses old towels and blankets to make dog and cat beds, and they’ll take your disused pet paraphernalia too. And unopened personal care and cosmetics are gratefully received by your local Women’s Refuge.
Ok, this is more a redistribution than a declutter. And it’s likely you’re already doing this in some way. As kids will usually grow out of something rather than wear it out, consider what can be handed down – either to the younger kids in your household or to the children of friends or neighbours. This includes clothes, toys and books – here are some tips to help kids let go of stuff they no longer use.
Recycle the rest
Consider how much of your clutter could be recycled. The forest of glass jars without matching lids, the stacks of magazines, or the barely-closing drawer of takeaway containers (check the numbers and read our guide to plastic recycling here) can all be recycled at your kerbside. This one’s an easy win if the mountain of clutter feels a bit daunting.
Got a garage full of junk? In Wellington, Sustainability Trust diverts literally tonnes of e-waste from landfill, and partners with organisations that repurpose bikes and car seats. They may charge a small fee to cover their costs for providing these services. If you have metal lying around, scrap dealers will pay for many types of clean metals, depending on the prices set by international markets.
FYI. Many charity shops are moving away from accepting electrical goods, because they need to be tested before they’re resold – which is expensive and requires specific training.
Giving and gifting
If you’re looking for ways to ‘spark joy’ this last one could be it. If you have something that a friend really needs or loves, surprise them with an impromptu gift. Just make sure they really do love it, want it, and it’s in good condition for its new owner.