Decluttering? From Chemicals to Cords, Here’s how to Discard the top Seven Things You’re Not Sure What To Do With
Excited to move into your Kasita, and finally live that minimalist life?
You might need to declutter first.
Declutter to start living the minimalist life
Thanks to the runaway success of Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, it’s no longer weird to sit alone in your home, holding (and talking to) each of your worldly possessions in a bid to decide whether it sparks joy or is destined for the discard pile.
The desire to downsize and declutter is resonating in a big way and there are as many guides on how to do it as there are plastic bags lurking under your kitchen sink. (Not into Kondo’s advanced sock-folding technique? Maybe the Reverse Hanger, Shopping Bag, or Clean Slate methods are right for you.)
Whatever your simplifying approach, the job doesn’t end post-cleanse. You still have to deal with the mountain of promotional coffee mugs, nostalgic t-shirts, and congealed bottles of trial-size hotel shampoo.
When it comes to ways of disposing of your old stuff, some are more intuitive than others. We’re all familiar with Goodwill and Salvation Army for clothes and furniture donations, but what about a half-empty bottle of bleach or that snarl of obsolete Apple charging cords? To help finish the job (and keep stuff out of the landfill), we made a handy guide.
How to safely discard 7 odd categories of clutter
Dispose: Tech hardware is a nasty environmental hazard if disposed of incorrectly. Luckily there are lots of options for responsibly dispatching your old laptops and cellphones into the gadget beyond. If your old phone doesn’t qualify for a buyback credit, all of the major mobile carriers in the US—Sprint, Verizon, T-Mobile, and AT&T—will accept cell phones for recycling or refurbishing. Many have programs that pass the phones along to active duty soldiers or victims of domestic violence.
For other items (computers, tablets, Bluetooth headsets, ink/toner, batteries, cameras, etc.), check out the recycling programs at Best Buy, Staples, Office Depot and OfficeMax. Tech vendors like Apple, Dell, HP, Samsung and Sony also have recycling programs for their products. Don’t forget to wipe your personal information off of devices before parting with them.
2) HOUSEHOLD CHEMICALS
Dispose: Bleach, batteries, pesticides, aerosols, fluorescent light bulbs, oven cleaner and drain decloggers—essentially anything that has poisonous or flammable properties—should be treated like toxic materials. They can’t be tossed in the trash or drained in the yard. Carefully read labels for disposal instructions. You can also check for hazardous waste drop-offs in your community. Local waste management companies typically offer hazardous waste guidelines and resources.
3) OFFICE & CRAFT SUPPLIES
Give: Have a printer you only use once a year or a stack of empty journals still waiting to be filled with genius? Consider donating gently used office furniture and supplies (desks, chairs, screens, paper, scissors, staplers) to your favorite nonprofit organization. Arts-based day camps, after-school programs, and classrooms often welcome supplies too. Call ahead to check if your specific items are needed.
4) PAINT & HOME IMPROVEMENT SUPPLIES
Give: If you’ve got paint, tools, or building supplies that need a new home, Habitat for Humanity is a great place to donate. Check their website for a location in your area.
Dispose: Paint and paint thinner are other substances that needs to be carefully disposed of. Places like Lowe’s, Habitat for Humanity, and PaintCare offer paint recycling programs.
Sell: Half Price Books is a great place to earn a few bucks off your books (local used bookstores may also be interested if your books are in good shape). Selling your reads via Amazon, Powell’s, and AbeBooks are other options, albeit more tedious ones.
Give: Little Free Libraries are a great way to support your local community—check if there’s one in your hood. Public libraries and school classrooms may also accept donations. BookCrossing is an intriguing way to give books (and track where in the world they end up).
6) KIDS TOYS & GEAR
Give: When your kid outgrows toys—or when you’ve reached the point where you just can’t even with Elsa’s Frozen musical snow wand—there are lots of kid-oriented nonprofits that will find them a new home. Check out Toys for Tots, Second Chance Toys, and DonationTown’s toy pickup.
For clothes, Schoola is a great non-profit that supports schools with sales from donated kids clothes (they even send you a postage-paid mailer bag).
7) SEASONAL STUFF
Store: If you’re downsizing and have stuff you only use occasionally but want to keep (think camping gear, Christmas decorations, snowboards, strollers, suitcases, antique stamp collections, etc.), look into innovative on-demand storage from companies like Omni (currently available in San Francisco, but expanding soon), Clutter (California and New York), and Closetbox (45 metropolitan areas). These companies pick up and store your stuff (in addition to uploading pictures of your items to a “virtual” storage container). When you need an item, they deliver it to your door.
Sell: If you have clothes in good shape and the patience to list individual items, websites like Poshmark and Tradesy are solid options. For those who don’t have time, ThredUp is a self-proclaimed “re-commerce” shop that allows you to mail in a box of clothes (free shipping, you get a cut of items sold, anything that can’t be sold is donated to charity). If you live in a bigger city, resale shops like Buffalo Exchange, Crossroads, and Plato’s Closet will trade you cash for clothes.
Give: There is no shortage when it comes to clothing donation opportunities. Goodwill and Salvation Army are well-known options, but local shelters and outreach programs may also welcome gently used clothing. Dress for Success is a nonprofit that helps women achieve economic independence by providing professional attire. In some states the Vietnam Veterans of America will come to your home to pick up used clothing.
Sell: If you don’t want to sweat it out with a garage sale, you can list your furniture for sale online. Craigslist isn’t the only option either. Check out Furnishly and Etsy for secondhand listings. The classifieds section of neighborhood social network Nextdoor is also a great option for reaching local buyers.
Give: Just want it gone? Listing your furniture in the Craigslist “Free” section will often get you a pickup in an hour or two. If that doesn’t work, you can pay for 1-800-Got-Junk to pick up and responsibly dispose of your stuff. Online forums like Freecycle and Yerdle offer platforms for trading/giving. And, of course, you can donate your furniture to The National Furniture Bank, Goodwill, and Salvation Army. DonationTown is also a great listing of nonprofits that will pick your furniture donation up.