How to get rid of things sustainably

How to declutter your home sustainably

Looking to get rid of the things you don’t need? Read this article to learn how to sustainably do that!

Although sustainable decluttering is a way of life, it can be difficult to get started if you don't know where to look, especially if your enthusiasm inspires you to buy more (and different) items to replace those you got rid of the last time you cleaned up!

After emptying the contents of your wardrobe over your bed or pulling out all the kitchen drawers, it may be tempting to grab the black bin bags and throw everything out with the general waste.

However, if something cannot be recycled, repaired, or reused, throwing it away should always be the last resort.

It is not always that something has outlived its usefulness just because we no longer require or desire it.

With a little planning and preparation, you can organise your home more sustainably.

This article will go over some environmentally friendly ways to dispose of items.

Let’s jump in!

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When to Get Rid of Things

Woman smiling while folding clothes and putting them in cardboard boxes

Even though you don't have to declutter your home regularly, there are some instances when you should, such as when the clutter is simply too much to handle.

However, some of the items and substances that accumulate in homes may be harmful to the environment.

These include the risk of environmental pollution from excessive plastic waste, toxins in medicines and cleaning products, and lead in paint.

Fortunately, there are several options for properly disposing of your unwanted household items!

As opposed to flushing household junk down the toilet or dumping it in a landfill, you may be able to find ways to safely dispose of items and clear your home without harming the environment.

Why is it so Difficult to Get Rid of Stuff, Anyway?

Person holding a box full of clothes with the sign "donation" written on it

It stands to reason that decluttering would evoke a wide range of negative emotions because, as humans, we have an innate tendency to hold onto things and justify why we should keep them.

Even though having a lot of stuff can be intimidating and frustrating!

There is the normal pain of parting with gifts or family heirlooms, the fear of missing something when it is gone, and the financial guilt of feeling like you are "wasting money."

There is no "correct" way to declutter or a "one-size-fits-all" way to simplify life.

When it comes to how you dispose of your belongings, however, there are many things you can do to turn those negative feelings into positive ones.

Decluttering has numerous benefits, whether you prefer the KonMari method, enjoy traditional Swedish death cleaning, or were simply inspired to do so after watching too many Hoarders episodes.

What Things to Get Rid of

Anything that doesn't bring you joy, according to Marie Kondo, should be discarded.

Joshua Becker advises getting rid of anything that does not improve your life.

Here are some examples of things you can get rid of

  1. Food that has spoiled in the cupboard, refrigerator, or freezer. Remove any spices that no longer smell fresh
  2. Unidentified food in the freezer should be discarded. What are the chances that you'll ever consume it? The same is true for items you've started but need to finish.
  3. A jumbled collection of papers. Get a shredder for anything that contains personal information
  4. Old calendars
  5. Borken pens and markers
  6. Old Magazines and newspapers
  7. Mugs - most people could live without so many!
  8. Similar to above, drinking glasses
  9. Extra kitchen supplies (knives, serving spoons, peelers, graters, miscellaneous gadgets)
  10. Miniature gadgets that you never use but keep around out of remorse
  11. Outdated or disliked toys for your children
  12. Receipts you no longer require
  13. Rubbish bins
  14. Recycle any old batteries
  15. Damaged, neglected, or old pet toys
  16. Pillowcases and sheets that are worn and ripped. You're probably clinging to a set of sheets that no longer fit any of your beds. 
  17. Unused towels, number (many vets will take these)
  18. Out-of-date medication (some pharmacies will take these)
  19. Bath and body items that have expired but have never been used. Because I never take baths, I had a great supply of bath items that I handed to my mother
  20. Wire hangers - some dry cleaners even accept returns
  21. Out-of-date or inactive nail polish
  22. Plastic storage containers, especially if the lids are missing
  23. Travel mugs (somehow, we end up collecting them)
  24. Vases, especially those from the florist  
  25. Unpleasant or improperly fitting shoes 
  26. "Dust traps," or decorative trinkets you're bored of gazing at and toppling over when cleaning
  27. Books you'll never read again
  28. Unrelated rubbish in your car
  29. Hair ornaments (bobby pins, elastics, hair clips you never use, etc 
  30. Full notebooks or notepads that you never use
  31. Sports equipment you've never used 
  32. Anything damaged that you haven't fixed yet
  33. Sports equipment you've never used
  34. Winter attire (how many hats, gloves, and scarves do you need?) 
  35. Swimwear that is worn-out and ill-fitting. 
  36. Outdated, holey, stretched-out, and poorly fitted underwear
  37. Outdated or underused auto maintenance supplies (I think anyone who has a garage probably could get rid of some)
  38. Outdated electronics that are taking up space, such as PCs and phones

To successfully declutter your home without regret, you must be honest about what you need. 

Things to Know Before Decluttering

It's easy to become overwhelmed when starting a decluttering project. We've all been there: you get inspired and passionate, throw your entire wardrobe on your bed, and within minutes you're sitting in the middle of your floor wearing your favourite dress from five years ago, ready to quit your job.

Rather than allowing it to overwhelm you, plan your decluttering project, go through your house piece by piece, and decide what to do with whatever you no longer desire. Donating what you can, putting it to good use, and recycling everything else is a more sustainable alternative to throwing anything away.

Plan Properly

 Person writing a to-do list in a notebook

If you have a lot of stuff and no plan, decluttering can be overwhelming. If you plan ahead of time, you can declutter sustainably rather than panicking and throwing everything away.

Before you begin, sort your belongings into piles for items you intend to keep, items that need to be repaired, items that can be donated or sold, items that can be given to friends and family, and items that should be recycled. Attempt to keep items out of landfills. Instead, reuse and recycle as much as possible. 

If your assignment still seems too big, try dividing it up into manageable pieces. Pick one drawer, cabinet, or other space and tidy it. You'll discover that you're inspired to take on larger areas when you see progress in little areas.

Don't anticipate doing a whole home declutter in a single weekend; instead, be realistic about how long the process will take. For optimal results, concentrate on one area at a time and go through your house gradually. 

Assume your home is cluttered with items you don't want to get rid of; consider packaging some of them and storing them in storage. There are numerous storage facilities in London where you can store items that take up space in your home but are only used occasionally.



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Recycle, repair, or otherwise use

Before throwing something away, consider whether it can be repaired or recycled to extend its life. You can easily identify and apply several quick fixes for worn-out furniture on your own.

If you no longer need or want your belongings, you can donate them to friends, family, or thrift stores. Ascertain that the charity shop will accept your donations so that they will not have to spend additional money to dispose of them. 

Don't just dump all of your stuff on them if it's something they could use; instead, sell your items on second-hand sites like gumtree or eBay, or give them to friends.

If none of these solutions work, do everything you can to recycle whatever you're trying to get rid of. Visit your local council's website to find out what and where you can recycle, then sort your items before bringing them to the recycling facility.

After you've worked so hard to get rid of the clutter, make an effort to keep your space organised and clean so you don't have to repeat the process in six months. Instead, implement long-term solutions to keep your home clutter-free indefinitely. 



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Ways to Get Rid of Things Sustainably

Free Donations and Giveaways

We prioritise donations and giveaways because we believe it is very humane to help others. Someone else may require your trash. This is true because people's living standards differ.

Donations can be made at the following locations:

Donating books

You can also donate books at the below places:

Phone Donation

Before giving your phone, wipe all data and remove any SIM cards. 


If something cannot be repaired or reused, it should be recycled.

This is why knowledge of the circular economy is important.

The circular economy has 4 concepts

  • Reverse Logistics for environmental sustenance
  • Recycling in an environmentally feasible way
  • Engaging the community in acknowledging the waste
  • Utilising emerging technologies

The simplest way to do this is to go to your local government's website and see what can be recycled there.

Sort items into various categories before bringing them to your local recycling centre or banks, such as books, textiles, and electronics. 

Textiles and Clothing


No matter the size of the bag you give, you will receive a coupon for 15% off at H&M. 


If you bring in some old apparel to Levi's (yep, the jean makers), you can receive 20% off of one item when you make a purchase.

Local drop-off bins

Drop-offs can be found in many local malls and shopping complexes. Pay attention to the restrictions on each container; some are just for garments of usable quality, while others are for books or textile recycling.

Office supplies and electronics


Exciting news for Apple devotees! Apple will accept your old phone in exchange for an Apple gift card. Apple will recycle your items if they are too old.


You may recycle devices and ink cartridges at this store; visit their website for a more information


Pharmacies - Find out if your neighbourhood pharmacy has drop-boxes for unwanted prescription drugs.

Used or outdated medications can also be donated to some local doctors' offices.

Plastic Bags

A lot of supermarkets now offer a bag at the entrance to accept old plastic bags for recycling, as there is a major push for reusable bags these days. 

Recycling dental products

Colgate, the oral care product manufacturer, has collaborated with TerraCycle to create a free programme for recycling oral care product packaging that also allows consumers to raise funds.

Visit their website to learn more about them and their 26,500 participating venues.



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Ways to sell your clutter

Person handing money to another person

Reselling is a great way to get rid of your clutter - particularly with the cost of living crisis!

It's a win-win situation because the buyer receives exactly what they want (often at a sweet discount off the list price!), and you receive a small amount of money back.

Here are some places to sell your clutter:

 If you have items that can't be sold or if you don't feel like you have the time to spend selling them, donating can be a great option.

Repurposing your clutter

Even if you don't know you love something, you may have an attachment to it and find it difficult to let go.

Consider finding new ways to use objects so you can fall in love with them again. 

Here are some great upcycling suggestions:

  • Use old baby clothes to make a quilt.
  • Treasured T-shirts can be transformed into scarves, cushions, or blankets
  • Convert a former cot into a desk.
  • Spray paint can be used to give aged objects a new lease of life
  • Your drawers can be organized with shoeboxes
  • Make a DIY memory box out of an empty wine box

Hands holding a jigsaw puzzle that spells the word "upcycle"

Final Thoughts

You can make decluttering more enjoyable by changing your perspective. Looking at a pile of clutter can be depressing, but it can also be fascinating to consider its potential for something better.

Look for ways to repurpose the products and share the value of being environmentally conscious with others before packing the clutter with numerous priceless items.

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Updated 14th Apr 2023

Written 22nd Nov 2022