It’s a new year. It’s a fresh start. And if you’re like me, you’ve been binging Marie Kondo’s new show on Netflix, “Tidying Up,” and feeling inspired.
I am definitely pro decluttering because I’ve personally felt the benefits of living with less after reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up in 2016. At the same time, I’m writing this post to share how I’ve felt convicted to declutter my home and life more thoughtfully, and to challenge you to think about how you can do the same – to see decluttering closer, if you will.
While it’s easy and convenient to donate to Goodwill, clothes are ending up in landfills and there are plenty of other options that are better for the environment.
I would absolutely love it if you share how you’ve decluttered thoughtfully in the comments. I know I’m just scratching the surface and I would love to learn from you all! I’m also aware that the whole topic of decluttering is a privileged conversation. We have more than we need. Let’s work together to use our privilege for good and donate to those less fortunate.
Note: This post might feel geared towards those local to St. Louis, but my vision is that it will inspire you to look up comparable non-profits and organizations in your own town or state.
Host a clothing swap
This is a great option for giving your clothes a second life and making a party out of it! Invite a few friends over, open up a bottle of rosé, and encourage everyone to bring a few pieces of clothing to exchange.
3340 Morgan Ford Rd. Saint Louis, MO 63116
“Remains Inc. reuses and recycles used clothing and textiles. From clothes to bed linens to coffee bean bags, we’ve recycled and repurposed items giving them new life as usable clothing, fiber products, paper products and more!” For a list of items they accept, read this list.
Remains has a drop-off bin outside, making it very convenient even if you can’t make it there during business hours.
Outside of St. Louis? Look for a nonprofit in your area that recycles materials responsibly and reuses them. There are lots of other places like Remains Inc. outside of St. Louis.
Donate to ThredUp
ThredUp is an online secondhand clothing site, and they have an option to either sell your clothing or send it in to be recycled responsibly. I’ve found I don’t get a lot of money for the clothing I send in so I’ve started just choosing the donate/recycle option when using ThredUp. Most of all, I appreciate that they don’t send their clothing to a landfill.
Donate to a non-profit
There are so many great nonprofits that could benefit from your clothing, such as a homeless shelter reusing your coats, gloves, etc. or a foster/adoption agency in need of children’s clothing. One of my favorites is Dress for Success for your women’s business attire.
Donate to Dress for Success
Dress for Success is a non-profit that “provides interview-appropriate attire to women in challenging situations, helping to level the playing field as other women seeking employment”. They have branches all across America, so search for a branch near you and donate any professional business attire that you might not be wearing anymore to a women in need. It is such a great way to give purpose to your donating!
Recycle with H&M
Believe it or not H&M has drop-off bins in their stores for old jeans and most clothing. What’s more, you even get a 15% off coupon to use in their store in exchange for recycling with them.
Since the goal of Marie Kondo’s method is to bring items back into your home thoughtfully, I usually use this option as a last resort, so I’m not tempted to just repurchase more with the coupon. But, I do appreciate them recycling responsibly.
Host a book swap party
This is another great option for giving your books a second life and making a party out of it at the same time. Invite a few friends over and have everyone bring a book or two to exchange. I especially love the idea of writing why you loved the book on a post-it note on the front to let the person know what you loved about it.
Give to friends/family
Similar to the book swap (with maybe a little less swap involved), give your books a second life by asking your friends or family if they’d like any titles you’re getting rid of.
Donate to your neighborhood library
Whether a physical library or a little library mailbox (have you seen those popping up in neighborhoods? So Hallmark), consider giving your books to a library. School libraries are always in need of books, so don’t be afraid to call your local school or teacher friends and ask.
Recycle/Sell with Half Price Books
If you still have books left after these ideas, Half Price Books has become a good friend in our decluttering process. You can bring in books, DVDs, board games, unopened stationary, records and more and they will give you cash back. How much depends on the location of the store and their inventory but I typically leave with $20 or more, which I’m not mad about!
I should also note that we sold our CDs as well and started an Apple Music Family plan with two other couple friends. This allowed us to keep our music obsession going without having to find a place to store it, as well as starting to read our non-coffee table books via an e-reader. I love my iPad Mini (so I can watch Netflix and read while traveling) and Aaron loves his Kindle.
Host a photo scanning party
The guys over at The Minimalists have such a great idea for turning a boring task into a party (yes, if you can’t tell by now, I do love a good party).
Invite your friends over for a scanning party! Use this time to scan important documents (looking at your tax papers pre-Turbo Tax days), apartment leases, etc. and then shred them! No need to have a whole file cabinet full of documents when we have the cloud, right? I think I was the most shocked by how much this simple concept freed up the most space.
This is really my only suggestion here because we have really worked on keeping everything in the cloud these last two years. But if you have some papers you are struggling to come up with a solution for that I haven’t thought of, comment below and we can brainstorm!
4. Komono (miscellaneous items)
Let go of old electronics
Technology can demand a lot of space in your home if you let it. I recently sold my desktop computer and old iPhone that I no longer needed on Facebook Marketplace, and I also recycled an old laptop through Apple GiveBack. I highly recommend taking your old electronics to Apple or Best Buy to clear off your data and then sell it.
Donate your office supplies
Many schools will accept donated office supplies, musical instruments, or children’s toys. Homeless shelters often take clothes, unused food, and the like. Do some digging into local organizations and send some items their way.
Get creative with reusing materials
Perennial Community Workplace + Store is a non-profit that teaches people creative skills to reuse materials and live a sustainable and self-sufficient life. I love their ideas for random items such as office supplies that you might not otherwise know what to do with. You can read their list of acceptable items here.
This post from RecycleBank about donating trophies and medals was so good I’m going to source it all below.
“Old trophies and medals are often made from recyclable materials, but they also hold value in their current form, and many can be reused. A number of companies have programs dedicated specifically to the art of refurbishing trophies. The best-known of these include Total Awards & Promotions in Madison, WI, and Lamb Awards & Engraving in Westminster, MD. These programs break unwanted awards down for parts, rebuilding new trophies and plaques with whichever parts are usable and recycling the rest. The rebuilt items are then donated to non-profit organizations or resold. Both programs will allow you to ship trophies that are in sufficiently good condition for nominal processing and shipping fees (please note their restrictions).
While medals are accepted by these programs, there are also options dedicated specifically to giving medals new life. Sports Medal Recycling, a Massachusetts-based organization, contributes the proceeds from recycling donated medals to fundraising for charity runs. The medals are removed from their ribbons and sorted for scrap recycling, while the ribbons are sent to cloth/textile recycling. Sports Medal Recycling even makes sure that all the packing materials you use to send them the goods are recycled as well, from bubble wrap to cardboard boxes. Medals4Mettle accepts old marathon, half-marathon, or triathlon medals to bestow upon kids and adults fighting serious illnesses, in recognition of their bravery.
Can’t afford to ship your awards or looking to skip the carbon footprint of shipping? Check with your local awards shop to see if they have a refurbishing program of their own. If you have a good sense of what materials your trophy contains, you can speak with your local recycling program directly to see if they will be able to process it and how they’d like you to break it down.”
5. Mementos (items with sentimental value)
This category is the hardest for lots of people. As Marie suggests, leave the category for last once you have honed your skill for saying yes or no to an item and whether it sparks joy or not.
You should also feel permission to keep some of your sentimental items. Only you can know if it sparks joy. But, we have become very selective of what we allow to come into our home now. No more Broadway playbills or movie ticket stubs and very few greeting cards. We take photos and allow our memories to keep the rest.
As you begin Marie Kondo’ing your home and have “just in case items” that you want to keep, I will share another tip from The Minimalists. If the item can be rebought for $20 or less, get rid of it (responsibly, of course). And, if there are items you’d like to get some money back for, I encourage Facebook Marketplace for household items and furniture (secondhand at its finest!) or Poshmark for clothing. I’ve had great success with both. Giving our items a second life is one of the best thing we can do for our planet.
I hope this was helpful and educational! Together, we can do so much. I can’t wait to hear how you Marie Kondo Thoughtfully and which non-profits you discover along the way. Best of luck!