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How to declutter, sustainably
Get rid of excess stuff, sustainably, with this expert guide to decluttering your house.
If working from home and months of staring at the same four walls in lockdown have spurred you to clear out the clutter or upgrade your office equipment, don’t automatically toss all your unwanted stuff in the bin.
There are many ways to get rid of it sustainably, including giving things in good condition to family, friends and even strangers through freecycle.org and op shops – ideally Charitable Recycling Australia members. Consider selling it on Gumtree or eBay, or simply check with your local council about their responsible waste options.
We’ve found some other ways you may not know about, including where to recycle tricky items like pens, old blankets and toiletry containers, as well as how to give everything from bicycles to spectacles another lease on life with someone who needs them.
Ways to declutter your home, sustainably
Second life for e-waste
According to Sustainability Victoria, electronic waste is growing three times faster than standard municipal waste. A lot of components from computers, phones and televisions can be recycled, so anything with plugs, power cords or batteries has been banned from Victorian landfill since 1 July 2019. Do the right thing by:
Offloading old TVs at Harvey Norman stores, or get free collection when a new one is home-delivered.
Taking home-office equipment, cables and accessories to Officeworks stores. They also accept batteries, printer cartridges, pens and markers for recycling.
Rinse and repeat, from towels to T-shirts
According to the Australian Circular Textile Association, less than one per cent of textiles are recycled in this country. Help get that number up by donating:
Any brand of clothing, footwear, accessories and household linen in almost any condition at selected Zara stores, or organise pick-up through Upparel for $25 credit to spend on product the first time you participate.
Blankets, towels and other linen to animal shelters including RSPCA centres – which also welcome pet products like collars, bowls and litter trays.
Makeover for toiletries and cosmetics
According to the World Wildlife Fund, the average Australian uses 130 kilograms of plastic per year, of which only nine per cent is recycled. Instead of binning bathroom-cupboard clutter, try:
Offloading any brand of razors, blades and packaging through Gillette’s free recycling program.
Donating hotel toiletries, airline amenity kits and other sample-size personal care products at Every Little Bit Helps collection points, so they can be given to needy people, including asylum seekers and victims of domestic violence.
Play on with toys, outdoor and sports gear
Our playthings are often made of multiple materials such as plastic, wood, textiles, rubber and metal, including electronics. This means serious hands-on work to separate them into recyclable components, so give them a second chance through:
Bikes4Life, which restores bicycles and donates them to impoverished families.
Your nearest toy library – check the Toy Libraries Australia directory.
The 2nd Life Project, which refurbishes outdoor gear including tents, sleeping bags and backpacks for reuse by under-resourced schools and the homeless.
Boots for All, which redistributes sports footwear, clothes and equipment in good condition to disadvantaged youth.
More ways to tidy up sustainably
Offload paint, varnishes, stains and sealants, or just the empty packaging, at Paintback drop-off points.
Give books to your nearest street library or start your own.
Take advantage of IKEA’s furniture buy-back scheme.
From frocks to fridges and furniture, give unwanted things in good condition to those who need them via DonateDirect.
Editor's note: At the time of publishing, IKEA is still not offering buy-back at Victorian stores and Carlton Kitchen Library is not open to visitors (only delivering/picking up library items to/from members), so no donations at the moment.