It’s much easier to declutter your life once you know your actions can serve a good cause like saving trees, sparing landfills, or padding your bank account.
So if you’re looking for motivation to pare down, check out our 9 compelling ideas to lose junk “weight.”
Before You Cast Off, Sort Out
This video by home organizer Alejandra Costello demonstrates her system for organizing items you wish to donate, sell, return, or exchange. You designate an area in the home — preferably near an exit — for the stuff you don’t want to forget to take out the door with you. What we really liked best about this video is that she includes tips for keeping your downsizing efforts on track.
Hazardous Household Materials
Sure, we all know where to recycle stuff like soda cans and water bottles, but what about dicey items like medications, paint thinners, or asbestos?
Earth911.com, along with its free app iRecycle, is one of the best sources for finding acceptance centers that handle household hazardous waste. Just enter the type of junk you need to unload, like compact fluorescent light bulbs (did you know they have traces of mercury?), along with your ZIP code, and it provides the nearest recycling center to you.
If you want to recycle appliances, cameras, computers, and TVs, Best Buy Recycle will take them, no matter where you bought them originally. The retailer charges $100 to pick up old appliances like TVs if you’re not also having a new Best Buy item delivered to you. It says it destroys CPUs to protect your data privacy. And the recycled bits and pieces become raw materials manufacturers can use to make everything from appliances to park benches. Check out the video:
If you want to sell your current smartphone or Mac gadget quickly, Gazelle.com will give you an instant estimate and a free shipping label. Plus, you can take comfort knowing that Gazelle believes in reusing products first before trying to recycle them.
FYI, while the company does protect your privacy by destroying SIM cards and erasing personal data found on devices they receive, Gazelle recommends you remove your SIM card and delete any personal information on your device before sending it in.
The best way to get rid of junk mail from accumulating at home is to stop it from being delivered in the first place. By creating a free account at Catalogchoice.org, you can banish catalogs and assorted marketing items from your home forever. Plus, their MailStop Browser extension for Firefox lets you opt out of mailing lists in real time when you shop online.
Lastly, if you’re willing to pay $35 a year, CatalogChoice will also prevent data brokers from selling your info to other direct marketers. You can check out the endorsement the National Wildlife Federation gave this service.
We all know how quickly kids outgrow their stuff. Once Upon a Child buys gently used clothing, toys, and baby gear. It won’t accept items that have been recalled or don’t meet their safety standards. To find a store location near you so you can swap your items for cash or trade for things your kid currently needs, visit their website.
Discover Books matches second-hand books with people who want them. It uses a proprietary software system to try to find a new owner for your old reads through an online retailer, or tries to donate it to an organization that supports literacy. Plus, if Discover Books can’t find a book a new home, it’s sent to a recycling center to begin a fresh life as something else. To see how this organization supports children’s literacy efforts, check out this video.
Places that buy books outright other than textbooks are becoming increasingly rare. Cash 4 Books pays you for books it wants, plus covers the cost of shipping to their distribution center. Just go to their site and type in the ISBN numbers of the books you plan to sell. Check out the video here to see how this process works.
FYI, if you really want to cut down on your carbon footprint, try donating your books to local libraries, schools, and hospitals. Or build your own free library in your front yard and let passersby help themselves.
Household Linens, Cleaning Supplies, and Old Cars
If you have old towels, blankets, heating pads, cleaning supplies, and even a car you need to get rid of, consider donating to a local animal shelter like the ASPCA. Every shelter has different needs, from canned dog food to office supplies. But the items we listed are often animal rescue organizations’ top need. To find a local shelter near you, go to the ASPCA site.
Do you need a kick in the pants in order to donate? Check out this happy ending in this video:
More Ways to Part With Your Stuff
Donate, trade, or sell: Krrb.com is an alternative to sites like eBay, Craigslist, and Freecycle. Krrb makes it fairly simple to buy, sell, rent, trade, or even give your stuff away. Plus, the site offers a republish function that reposts your listings from Etsy, Craigslist, or eBay to Krrb with one click. They also have an iPhone app so you can find stuff for sale right in your neighborhood:
Charity thrift shop locator: TheThriftShopper.com makes it a cinch to find charity thrift stores in your area by entering your ZIP code. Plus, many of the listings include the shop’s website, so you can learn more about each organization before deciding where to donate.