My year of less is more: what to do with all your clutter (once you've decluttered it)
Here's the question that has challenged me the most regularly in this whole decluttering blitz. What do you do with your stuff once you've sorted through it and decided that you don't need it anymore? I think this is one of the big challenges of decluttering because you don't want to create more landfill. And I have to admit that I am really hopeless at thinking creatively about the removal of my stuff (beyond 'that can go in the recycling bin') so I'm just starting to think carefully through this for myself.
In my head I have a list of questions I ask myself when I have things I'd like to get rid of. Could I SHARE this with someone? Could I GIVE it to someone? Could I SELL this item? Can I REUSE this item for another purpose (and an immediate purpose, not a 'I might one day make something with that'), can it be RECYCLED, then landfill if desperate. I have signed up for Freecycle to get rid of a few items but I am yet to try it out. Often your local council will have a recycling programme too. I often find that just asking around on Facebook or our community, I can pass on good quality items.
So here are my paltry ideas thus far (yes, I need to work on it a bit more, but it's a start):
Clothing: find someone who has kids younger than yours and pass kid's clothes onto them,
donate them to a charity, sell them online, have a clothes swapping party (and have an adult one and a kid's one).
Old technology: It's hard to pass this kind of stuff on, but if you do a little bit of looking around, often local councils have recycling for old computers and you can recycle old phones at phone shops. If you have kids who've grown out of computer games, younger kids are often still keen on them (my boys got some great games from a work colleague who's older son was clearing out his DS games).
Toys: Chuck out rubbish (it is what it is and if you feel bad about doing this, it will slow you down the next time you decide to buy a box of plastic whatever). Give good quality toys away. If you have the energy sell them. If someone else doesn't want to keep it forever, just lend the toys and keep passing them around your community. You could also host a toy swapping party.
Bits of naff stuff like memorabilia: Stuff that I don't want but looks OK, I keep to donate it to our school's white elephant stall. If it's sentimental, someone else in your extended family might want it.
Craft: (now this topic is another entire post and I have yet to conquer Mt Craft Declutter) Keep an ear out for people who like the same kind of craft as you and see if they need extra supplies. I got some great fabric from a friend who was decluttering her fabric collection recently and I actually used a lot of it. I have given left over wool to people who knit/crochet blankets for those in need.
Books: donate them to a fete, sell them to a second bookstore (a reader recently contacted me with some of her successes doing this, although no one was interested in buying JK Rowling's 'The Casual Vacancy'…!), they can be recycled, find a charity that gives books to the homeless or sends them to schools overseas. Libraries will sometimes take them (but not always, a lot don't take second hand books). Create your own sidewalk library and give books away for free.
I have compiled this list in a very short time so I'm hoping this can start a discussion with both your specific questions about particular items and also some creative solutions on how to get rid of stuff. Hopefully this whole exhausting process of removing stuff from our lives will be confronting enough to remind us to not keep consuming and acquiring new stuff at the same rate.