Updated: Dec 29, 2022
A process many professional organizers teach their clients is the method of decluttering. You can’t hope to organize your home thoroughly if you don’t do regular decluttering sessions.
But what happens when you declutter? You end up with a ton of stuff you realize you don’t want or need. Then you’re left wondering what to do with it all. Should you throw it away and be done with it?
Not necessarily. In fact, there are a ton of ways you can get rid of unwanted stuff without throwing it in the garbage. That’s what we’ll discuss today.
Here are 5 ways you can get rid of unwanted things
#1 — Sell
If you want to make some money off of unwanted items, the first thing you should consider is selling them. While this can be a bit of a time-consuming activity, it’s a great way to make a little extra money.
You can also host a good old-fashioned garage sale. You can choose one of the other options for whatever doesn’t sell. You may not be able to sell everything you’re decluttering. For example, torn and tattered clothes should be recycled, not sold. And anything that is ready to fall apart after one use can also be recycled. More on those in a few minutes.
The great thing about selling your unwanted items first is that you can earn a little extra money. Will you recoup everything you spent on it? No, but a little something is better than nothing.
So if you’re not filling your home with items to sell, give yourself a deadline. If a certain item doesn’t sell in six months or a year, choose one of the other options so it gets out of your life and home.
#2 — Gift
With items that don’t sell, the next thing you should consider is whether you can gift them to others. The saying, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure” is quite true to this day. Just because you don’t see value in something doesn’t mean someone else won’t.
Say you have a ton of kitchenware you’ll looking to downsize. Reach out to friends and family and see if they need some new appliances or pots. If you know for sure that someone will appreciate something you have, gift it for their birthday or during a holiday.
Obviously, not everything you’re decluttering is going to be a suitable gift. Don’t give someone something that is about to fall apart or isn’t their style. Be vigilant about the stuff you gift to someone because the last thing you want to do is put the weight of it on them.
Gifting things you don’t want gives them a second life. Just because you didn’t love or use them doesn’t mean someone else won’t either.
#3 — Repurpose
Once you’ve exhausted the possibility of selling or gifting unwanted items, the next thing you should consider is whether you can repurpose them. If you’re serious about limiting your waste, reusing and repurposing is a great option. This not only leaves items out of a landfill, but it gives certain things a second chance at life.
And you’ll be surprised at what you can transform something into with a little DIY spirit.
You can take a pile of T-shirts and make them into a quilt or pillowcase. You can make single socks into adorable mug cozies or hand puppets for kids. Have a ton of unused bricks from a renovation? Build a dedicated garden or plant raiser.
If you’re creative enough, you can repurpose anything. Egg cartons make great seedling planters and mason jars are great for food storage. And if you’ve managed to get rid of things using the sell or gift method, you won’t have much left to repurpose.
Don’t be afraid to get experimental. And know that if something doesn’t work out, you can recycle it. But before recycling, there’s one more thing you can do with unwanted items.
#4 — Donate
Donating unwanted items can make you feel good. There’s a dopamine hit we all get when we do something for someone else- whether that’s volunteering at a soup kitchen for the day or passing things down that we no longer use to people in need.
Why, then, if donating makes you feel proud is it number four on this list? Well, too often, people donate items that shouldn’t be donated. It’s too easy to toss everything you’re getting rid of in a bag than schedule a donation pickup.
But the truth is most donated items still end up in landfills. This is because the donation center either can’t accommodate them or they know it doesn’t sell.
That’s why it’s important to be vigilant about what you donate. Always check the donation center’s list of accepted items and follow it. Don’t give them everything and let them deal with it.
You want to know that your donations are going to a good cause. That’s why you should always try to sell, gift, or repurpose before donating. When you’ve gone through those steps, look through what you have left and decide what you’ll donate and what you’ll recycle.
If you’re looking for more helpful donation tips and options, check out my resource list here.
#5 — Recycle
The last and final thing you can do with unwanted items is recycling them. Now, depending on what the items are that you’re decluttering, you may recycle some of them right away. Old paperwork, delivery packages, expired food... all of that will be immediately recycled or trashed.
But before you go for this option, always check to see if you can do one of the other four options. Not to mention, people too often put things in recycling that shouldn’t go in there. This is called “wish cycling” and it causes problems. You're better off putting it in the trash.
There’s a method to recycling properly and if you need some more insight into that, check out my blog post all about it.
One way to ensure you’re recycling right is to do some research. Companies like TerraCycle offer special recycling programs you can join. You can bring fabrics like clothes to bins like USAgain. You can also check your local recycling guidelines to know what they accept and what isn’t.
Basically, in order to recycle well, you need to do a little more work. But these extra few minutes will keep more stuff out of landfills.
When you have a pile of unwanted items to deal with it, it can be tempting to do the easy thing and throw them in the trash. But if you’re willing to go the extra mile and limit your waste, you’ll try these other options out first.
In the end, you may surprise yourself with what you’re able to sell, gift, repurpose, or donate. What matters most is getting the unwanted items out of your life and home as quickly as possible. That’s why deadlines are important.
So the next time you complete a decluttering session and have things you plan on getting rid of, schedule a day to do some research. See what you can sell and post it. Reach out to friends and family immediately. Check local donation centers and what they’re looking for. Recycle what’s left.
And know that once you’re done, you’ll feel amazing that you did everything you could to give these items a second chance.
If you have unwanted items you’re looking to donate, be sure to reach out. I offer Donation Runs and am happy to relieve you of those decluttered items quickly and efficiently.