5 ways to have an eco-friendly clear out this spring

Woman holds stack of knitted jumpers.

Parting with something that has been in your possession for a long time can be difficult. Perhaps even harder though, is figuring out where to dispose of unwanted items in an environmentally friendly way. Luckily, having an eco-friendly clear out is possible. We’ve summed up five ways to dispose of your unwanted goods, none of which involve a landfill pit. Happy spring cleaning!

Donate to an op shop

Donating goods you no longer need to an op shop is never a bad idea. Op shops can be a great place to grab a bargain, especially for anyone on a low income. That said, you also want to avoid dump-donating. This is basically donating unwanted items in bad condition that a charity shop cannot sell. Thrift shops receive so many dump-donations every year, they themselves are forced to foot the bill sending them to landfill. 

To avoid this, ask yourself before donating: would I give this to a friend? If something isn’t good enough to be passed on to a friend or family member, chances are an op shop won’t be able to shift it. You could also tell a volunteer what you’re giving away when you make your donation. That way you can check with them whether or not they are happy to take the items.

Sell online

As mentioned above, op shops are inundated with stuff. Also if you’re in lockdown right now, donating might not be an option. For these reasons, you could consider selling your unwanted items instead and making a bob or two. 

There are so many online marketplaces to advertise on these days too. These include Gumtree, eBay, Depop, Carousell and Facebook Marketplace. If you are signed up to Facebook, you could also see about joining a local buy, swap and sell page. That way you can sell to people in your neighbourhood.

Give to the community

In an effort to support the local community, one thing you could do is give unwanted items directly to neighbours, community projects and even animal shelters. When it comes to being more environmentally focused, we’re often told to think global, act local. As well as signing local petitions and buying locally grown produce, this can also cover donating to local organisations and individuals.

Got unwanted books? Take them along to your local street library. Street libraries are a great initiative to share literature with the local community. They’re also a great way to take some of the burden off op shops, which are inundated with secondhand books these days. You can search for a street library near you using the national street library website

Other ways you can give to your local community include donating unwanted towels and blankets to an animal shelter. You could even pop out a box of goods such as secondhand clothing and toys for anyone walking past on the street to take. 

Repurpose materials

While using something in its original form is ideal, sometimes it simply isn’t possible. For example, you might have a few t-shirts with more holes than shirt in them. Or there might be a few cracked plates or mugs hanging out in your kitchen that can’t be used. In these instances, you will probably have to find another use for them.

One option with old clothing is to turn it into rags. Save some money on buying cleaning cloths and instead repurpose old material. Or if you don’t need any cleaning rags, find out if they can be donated to a local garage. Broken crockery could be fixed and used for display or turned into planters or even candle holders. 

You could even make repurposing your old material into a fun lockdown project. Think of it as something to work on while stuck at home!

Make do and mend

Last but not least, rethink whether something really is a lost cause. Could a pair of socks be darned? A holey jumper sewn up? Could a daggy piece of clothing be altered into something a lot snazzier? Before giving up on something entirely, take a long hard look at it and see if it’s worth mending and reusing.

The same goes for appliances or electricals. There is a growing ‘right to repair’ movement around the globe, where people are demanding an end to inbuilt obsolescence and the right to repair laptops, mobile phones and electrical appliances. Before sending something to e-waste recycling or landfill, see if there is a repair place near you that could fix it. You could even search for a repair cafe in your town or city. Repair cafes are free, volunteer-led and usually open a few times a month.

Now that you have all these tips under your belt, you can not only divert useful resources from landfill, but also divert your own hard earned cash into your savings account.

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