How to Reuse or Recycle All That Clutter

recycle reuse or consign

How to Reuse or Recycle All That Clutter

An organized home will improve your stress level and save you time. Along with all the benefits, however, comes a byproduct… the stuff left over. These things are not part of your new life. All this stuff that used to own you is now sitting in a pile marked “trash.” Whether you’re downsizing or just decluttering, you can reuse or recycle more than you might think.

There are many things you can do with this stuff that is better than chucking it in the garbage. The word “dispose” doesn’t mean “throw away.” It means “to put in order.” So to properly dispose of your cast-off items, let’s consider an array of options that fall into the general idea of recycling.

We’re going to go in order from the options of highest value to least. If an item threatens to clutter your newly cleaned home, just move it on down the list. You can be picky and shrewd. Treat these as good options that are better for your community and environment than the trash, which is the final option.


Pass Things On

As you look over your items that you don’t love anymore, you may spot some items that may be useful and appreciated by other friends or family. Please don’t send everything over to your favorite hoarder, but it there is an heirloom that would be appreciated, or if you have a young friend or family member beginning to set up their first house, this may be a great solution!

Ask them if they would like the item(s). Be clear that there is no pressure for them to take the item f they do not want it. But it is a nice way to pass the usefulness of some nice items to another household.



If you can see a way to update an item, and have the time and materials to make it happen reasonably quickly, maybe you can breathe some new life into some old stuff. Update a lamp with a new shade or base. Reupholster a chair. Turn an old window into a coffee table. If you like to paint, some old sheets can substitute for canvases, or if you like to sew, Halloween costumes. 

Avoid creating a pile of future projects that will stay clutter. It would cost a lot of money or require skills and equipment you don’t have, move it on down the list. Someone further down these options may have a better ability to upholster that favorite old chair that belonged to your folks.


Consign or Sell

Look for consignment shops in your area. They will sell the items and give you a cut. Provide them with photos and plenty of information first to make sure the item fits their needs. You may have to haul the item at your own cost, but the sale can make up for it.

A big garage sale is a win-win. You get to pocket some extra money. People who visit may find treasures or new uses for the things that you are done with. As you run your sale, commit to the idea that nothing goes back into the house. If it doesn’t sell, we move it down the list.

There are many blogs with tips on how to run a good garage sale. If you’re not allowed to have one where you live, maybe a friend or relative will have one and you can add your stuff to their inventory. Make sure you offer them a cut and your help in moving things. We’re not dumping our junk on other people!

If you are downsizing or clearing out an estate of a loved one, you might also consider a company like Everything But the House. They will send a consultant to catalog your valuables and help you auction them online.

You can offer items on Craigslist, Let Go, or a local Facebook group too! Sometimes extending your announcement of availability to a wider audience will help match your item with someone who can really use it. Old cardboard boxes, old carpet and even the playground equipment that your children have outgrown can be useful to someone near you!



Read the websites of places like Goodwill, Salvation Army, and the other local thrift stores in your area. They often have donation drop-off locations and guidelines for what they will take. Some organizations, like Vietnam Veterans of America, will pick up. These donations are tax deductible and the proceeds from the sales benefit the community. Also, ask the organization whether they recycle what they can’t sell. There is no point in hauling things to a thrift store if they’re just going to end up in a landfill anyway.



We’ve explored the options for finding a new home for your old stuff. At this point, if no one wants something, you have one more option for giving it a new life. Recycle it. Many materials can be used to create new things, and reusing materials may prevent new ones from having to be taken from the natural environment.

Old mattresses are about 80% recyclable, you can use various online guides and recycling center locators online to help move these materials into the hands of people who can put them to use.

Plastic packaging has a dial symbol on the bottom to help you classify and categorize what kinds of plastic they are. If you group them, you can know what items to take to the recycling center.

Old electronics, cables, and batteries are recyclable, often at nearby retailers. Check stores like Best Buy and Home Depot.

These are just a few examples. There is a large alphabetical list of material recycling options in this article. So do your best following this decision sequence to extract the value and give new life to the items that you’ve removed during your decluttering!


Once that is done, your house will be organized and your conscience clear!


PHOTO: Jane023 / CC SA-4.0 (cropped from original)

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