Getting rid of clutter just feels good. And while there's absolutely nothing wrong with doing something for our own well-being or for the benefit of our homes, Earth Day has us feeling a little green at the moment.
So here is a list of things we can get rid of to not only breathe new life into our spaces, but also uphold the ethos of "reuse, reduce, and recycle" at the same time — by making sure our discarded items stay out of landfills and get into the hands of people (and animals!) who will benefit from them.
Donating directly to organizations in need definitely shows that your heart is in the right place. But to make the process as smooth and helpful as possible for everyone involved, make a few phone calls first to make sure the organization you wish to donate to is accepting donations and to find out how they would like them donated. (For instance, my animal shelter tells me they appreciate towels that are folded and stacked in paper bags.)
1. Unused dishware
We all tend to accumulate more than necessary, especially when it comes to mugs, water bottles and the like. Go through your kitchen cupboards and drawers and donate duplicates (or anything that doesn't get regular use) to a local shelter.
2. Extra towels
Repurposing your no-longer-guest-worthy towels into rags for big messes at home is definitely a great way to reuse them, but consider how many downgraded towels you really need. Sort through both the linen closet and the rag bin and pull out what you can do without, then donate them to an animal shelter in need.
3. Overflowing craft supplies
Craft supplies are hard to let go of because we always think we'll need them "just in case." Plus, it's hard to just toss those dozens of toilet paper rolls into recycling after putting weeks of effort into collecting them and then months of storage space into saving them! Take the sting out of decluttering your craft supplies by sending them to a local art school or a children's shelter.
4. Canned food
We won't get into the debate about donating expired food here (while some places are happy to accept it, many individuals have ethical problems with this), but go through your pantry nonetheless and donate canned food that has just been sitting around before it expires. Maybe you bought too many cans of black beans and now you're eating Paleo, or maybe you accidentally picked up too many cans of pumpkin last Thanksgiving. Pull out your extras and put them in a box for donation to your local food kitchen.
There's almost always clothing we can say goodbye to. Whether it's still-unworn items from our last closet clean-out or outgrown children's clothes, pull them out and arrange a clothing swap with friends and neighbors, pass them on to a younger child, or donate to a local shelter. And don't forget the shoes!
While using our personal electronics as long as possible is certainly the first green choice we can make, when our electronics need to be replaced, we often don't know the best thing to do with our old ones. Here is a list of places that accept electronics donations, many of which are able can be refurbished to supply people in need.
There are so many feelings about the very idea of getting rid of books, but if you're ready to do it, you might feel better about donating your beloved tomes to a local library than anywhere else. And don't forget children's books. See if schools, pre-schools, or libraries would enjoy the stories that your family is through with.