“One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” We love this adage, and the concept is so relevant to what we do at Getting it Done Organizing. Cleaning out and decluttering is rewarding in and of itself, but when we’re able to do something for someone else while reaping the healthy benefits of decluttering, it’s a Win-Win. What’s more, when we get rid of items in our home in an eco-friendly manner, we’re doing something for the planet. So, before you start to fill up the trash bin, take a read through these recycling tips and donation ideas.
Why We’re Wired to Hang onto Things We Don’t Need or Want
We might feel a sense of failure for having bought something we really don’t need or use.
We might feel grief for something sentimental – an old toy or clothing item from a special occasion.
We might feel fear of future regret for getting rid of something we may need someday.
But the reality is that too much stuff causes stress. Clutter makes us feel overwhelmed and can cause frustration. The truth is that we feel better when we clear out what we simply don’t need. And if the sentimental is a concern, take a picture of it. It will last longer and is much easier to access when you want a warm and fuzzy.
What To Do With Your Clutter
Below, I’ve compiled a list of the most common repurposing and recycling categories we come across at Getting it Done Organizing. Perhaps it will spark some ideas. Donations are personal. Tap into your passions when choosing where to donate. For example, I have a friend passionate about helping women in need. She gives her gently used clothing and household items to her local battered women’s shelter.
Clothing is the #1 category we come across for purging when working with clients.
Drop off items at your local thrift store or favorite charity.
Dress for Success is an international program that empowers women to achieve economic independence. In addition to helping women in need get prepared for job interviews, they provide these women with appropriate workwear. Check to see if you have a local chapter in your area and consider donating your gently used skirts, slacks, blazers, and business footwear there.
Cinderella’s Closet is a national program created to give young women who would otherwise not have the financial means to attend prom the opportunity to do so. They accept gently used formal wear and accessories. Their call to action is “Turn Dresses into Dreams.” We love it!
Pro Tip: You don’t have to wait for a full closet clean-out to gather up clothing you no longer want. Keep a recycling box or bag in your closet and toss in items you come across in your day-to-day life. It is important to pull the items when you think about them so they don’t continue to clutter your closet. Make a trip to donate when the bag is full.
While we are on the subject of closets, don’t forget that you can recycle wire hangers. Don’t throw them away. At Getting it Done Organizing, we suggest a hanger organizer, like this one from The Container Store, to hold the hangers you bring home from the dry-cleaners. Once full, return the hangers with you on your next dry-cleaning trip for proper recycling.
Did you know that U.S. consumers bear only 3% of the world’s children, but we buy 40% of the world’s toys? With this in mind, we can confirm that toy overwhelm is a big problem with most of our clients.
Pro Tip: When donating toys, make sure they are in good condition.
Pro Tip: We recommend purging and organizing your playroom before a birthday or holiday!
Local thrift stores and charities usually accept toys.
Consider your church, mosque, or synagogue.
Too many crayons? These can all be recycled! Check out: Crazy Crayon and the National Crayon Recycling Program.
Stuffed animals in good condition? Stuffed Animals for Emergencies is a 100% volunteer-run organization that collects new and gently used stuffed animals to distribute to organizations supporting children in traumatic and emotional situations.
More Legos than you can play with? Donate them to a child in need. Lego’s Replay Program is plug and play. Box up the bricks, print the label, and send them off to be distributed by Lego.
Like clothing, most furniture you no longer want can still be put to good use.
Check with your local thrift store- some may offer free pick up.
Many of your favorite charities also accept furniture.
Your church, mosque, or synagogue may be interested.
The Furniture Bank accepts gently used furniture to help families transitioning from homelessness.
Paint, Batteries & Chemicals
Paint, batteries, and chemicals are hazardous to humans and the earth. They need to be disposed of responsibly.
Paint, batteries, and chemicals should be recycled through your local Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) program.
Contact your county or city to determine the logistics; some offer scheduled curbside pick-up, in addition to regular drop-off hours.
Rechargeable batteries and auto batteries must be recycled.
The Duracell website says, “Alkaline batteries can be safely disposed of with household waste.”
Although alkaline batteries can indeed be thrown in the regular trash (unless you live in California), the best option for all batteries is to recycle them.
Many stores, including Home Depot and Office Depot, have battery recycling stations in-store.
Pro Tip: Keep a box in the pantry or closet to toss old batteries in. When it is full, make a trip to a convenient recycling spot.
Electronics, Including Cellphones
Electronics can do real damage to our environment. Click here to see a list of electronic items that must be recycled.
Contact your city or county office to find out where and how they accept old electronics.
If the item still works and can be enjoyed by someone else, don’t recycle it. Consider donating to your local thrift store or favorite charity.
Many cellphone providers and manufactures will give you credit for turning in your old cellphone, and many companies, like Gazelle, offer cash for old devices.
Prescription medicines should not be flushed; they will end up in our water supply.
Many local governments offer prescription recycling programs. Check online for specifics.
The DEA provides several opportunities for safely disposing of prescription drugs.
Many pharmacies, including Walgreens, have special kiosks where you can recycle old medicines safely as well.
CVS sells medical disposal bags shown below in the photo. You put your meds in the bag and seal it, making it safe to dispose of the medications at home.
Other Good-to-Know Recycling Ideas:
MAC Cosmetics will give you store credit for bringing in their old make-up containers.
Printer ink cartridges usually come with a free return shipping label for recycling, or you can recycle them at your local office supplies store.
Eyewear is expensive, and many organizations, like Lions Club International, recycle old eyewear to distribute to those in need. Most optometrist offices maintain a donation box, as well, and will gladly accept what you have.
Not sure how to recycle something? Earth911 is a fantastic, searchable, easy-to-use resource.
Do Some Good When You Clean Out and Organize
Resist the urge to simply trash everything as you clean out and organize. Take full advantage of all the benefits that come from cleaning out and organizing your home, including “Doing Something Great” – for a fellow human being and our precious planet.