I started decluttering our home in January and thought for sure I’d be done by now, but alas, I’m still at it months later. I’m working at a slower pace now, but I haven’t stopped. Perhaps this is a forever project…
What has been taking the longest is the actual act of getting rid of stuff. The easiest way to do it is to drive truckloads of stuff over to Goodwill but I’m trying really hard not do to that. It’s quick and it’s easy but there is more to it than meets the eye. Ever since I read this and learned about the company, I work hard not to support it.
Don’t get me wrong, sometimes that’s the only option, but I try to go through the following steps first and find something in here 90% of the time. There are a lot of other great options out there.
I found a great NY Times article on how to responsibly donate old clothing if you want to get even more ideas.
Some of the options you see below have been mentioned in various other blog posts but I wanted to compile them all in one place and add some new ideas as well.
1. Give to friends/family: The first thing I do is send pictures to my sister or friends of toys or clothing or whatever I think they’d like. If they claim it, I set it aside for them then bring it the next time I see them. My nieces’ wardrobes are made up 50% of Amalia’s hand-me-downs and it brings my sister and I so much joy to see her clothes and shoes get a second life. If they’re still usable, she then passes stuff down to her friends and sisters-in-law. I also have a friend locally with a boy exactly a year younger than Luca so I bring her a bag of hand-me-downs once a month.
2. Donate: Look locally for women’s shelters, halfway houses, and schools looking for donations. It can take a little time calling around to find the perfect spot but it is 100% worth it when you donate products that people really need and appreciate. If you’re local to Fairfield County, some options to check out are Person to Person in Darien, Caroline’s House in Bridgeport, Clothes to Kids in Stamford, and Dress for Success in Greenwich and Bridgeport.
3. Resell: It definitely takes a bit of work to resell things online, but I’ve found it to be a great way for some of my gently worn pieces to get love from someone new. Local consignment shops are another good option, but I haven’t dabbled in that much. I’ve sold things online in three places:
ThredUp– ThredUp is an online consignment store that will send you a bag to send in your clothing. Whatever they can’t sell, they’ll donate for you. And when they do sell things, you get a kick-back either in cash or store credit. I’ve used them many times and have found it to be an easy and seamless process but not super financially rewarding.
Facebook Marketplace– We love Marketplace for both buying and selling furniture, home goods and decor, and larger kid items like bassinets and other pieces still in good shape. Anel is a pro at it, and I’m still learning. I like to use Marketplace mostly for furniture, rugs, and things that are too big to ship. I have to warn you that there is a often a lot of back and forth in conversations here before someone actually purchases.
4. No-Sell Groups: I recently learned about local “no-sell” Facebook groups you can join (you will have to prove residency in your town) where you post items you want or items you want to get rid of and other locals can pick them up free of charge. I’ve found this to be great for kid things like car seats, larger toys that we’ve grown out of, and random stuff that you can’t donate.
It’s amazing and so easy you literally post in the group and people respond if they want it. Because there is no price, there isn’t a lot of back and forth. Then you just leave it in your driveway and it disappears to someone who will appreciate it all over again!
The one here is called Buy Nothing Westport if you want to join it.
5. Recycle/Upcycle: For things like old sheets with rips or holes, old towels that have turned gray, and old undergarments, textile recycling seems to be the best option.
For Days- For $20, they’ll ship you a giant Take Back Bag that you can fill with 25 pounds of old clothing and textiles that are then downcycled into rags and insulation or resold. When they receive your bag of clothing/textiles, you get $20 in store credit, and everything sold on the site is made with recyclable material. I’ve never done this but definitely will try soon.
Terracycle- TerraCycle recycles everything that you cant traditionally recycle like old tubes of toothpaste and VHS tapes. You have to pay to use their service, and it’s kind of pricey but if you have a lot to get rid of, it is a wonderfully responsible option. They send you a box with a prepaid shipping label that you can fill with unwanted items (boxes start at $120) and they take it from there.
6. Goodwill/Pick Up: If I go through the list above and can’t figure out what else to do, I will do a drop at Goodwill or have a pile of stuff picked up (for free!) from a site called pickupplease.org. Easy, effective, but not necessarily the most ethical answer.
7. Dump: I’ve reached this point only once but obviously there is some stuff that is totally unsalvageable. For example, when we had a mouse situation in our storage room and some stuff got completely ruined. This is a last resort but sometimes it’s unavoidable.
I’m sure there are far more options for donating and upcycling, and I’m always open to suggestions, but so far this is what has worked for me. For more info on my decluttering project, read part 1 (the initial plan) and part 2 (about my shopping strategy).