Tips for Reducing Waste when Clearing Out

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After three years of living in our flat, we decided to move to a different place in Brighton. Although we mostly enjoyed our old place, it was certainly the right time for a change. Although we’ve had plenty of ‘sort outs’ and have donated lots of clothes to charity shops during our time there, the move really gave us the opportunity to sort through everything we own, to really downsize and minimise.

Sorting through everything was a real eye-opener.. not only realising the number of possessions we had but also realising how many unnecessary things we have that no longer serve a purpose to us. Although I’ve always done basic recycling since being a child and have always donated clothes to charity, we very quickly were faced with the issue of ‘what do we do with this’ as items going into landfill was the last thing we wanted to do.

Bar the obvious items (clothes, barely worn shoes, household items) which can easily be donated to charity, I thought I would make a little list of suggestions and tips of what to do with certain items you no longer need:

  • Old arts and craft items
    Several prison and homeless charities take a wide range of arts and crafts materials to use in programmes or to sell on to make money for the charity. Some nurseries and children’s day care centres also take art and craft materials. Have a little google search and see what’s on offer in your local area. 
  • Used/ stained towels and bed linen
    In the UK, there are council run ‘Clothes and Shoes’ recycling banks. I’ve always used these recycling textile banks for clothes which I do not think will sell in a charity shop (ie. if are too holey to fix or have bleach stains). However, a quick google also showed that these banks can also recycle old towels and bed linen (not the actual duvets). 
  • Old underwear (bras, pants and socks)
    Some high street charities actually take good condition bras (please check first before donating0 and there are ‘bra charities’ who either specialise in providing bras to those in need or to raise money for breast cancer treatment/research funding. I donated what I could, but many very old and tatty. Another quick google showed that the clothes recycling banks can actually recycle old bras, socks and even pants (but please make sure they’re clean for the sorters sake)!
  • Old broken or holey shoes
    For shoes which are not in a sellable condition, recycle them at a textile bank 
  • Old duvets
    Some animal shelters take old duvets and quilts
  • Working cameras and broken cameras
    Working cameras (both analogue and digital) can be donated to certain charities who sell the camera on to raise money. Places like Oxfam, Bernandos and The Disabled Photographers’ Society highly welcome donated working cameras. For broken cameras (and mobile phones), Bernados also offer a recycling scheme for those items which do not work and therefore cannot be sold.
  • Small household electrical items
    Like the clothes banks, there are banks popping up where you can recycle small electrical goods. This is perfect for people living in the city or for those who do not have access to tip/waste sorting centres which are often in out of town industrial estates. Such banks recycle electronic personal care items (hair appliances, shavers, toothbrushes etc), DIY equipment, gadgets (game consoles, MP3 players) and small kitchen and home appliances (kettles, irons). More info can be found here
  • Unwanted furniture and homeware items
    Instead of throwing away and going to land fill, in the UK it is very common to leave unwanted furniture in the street. Everything we put out on the street- an office chair, a bedside table, decorative storage boxes, wooden crates, plastic garden pots, planters and propagators were all taken within a couple of hours. One person’s waste really is another person’s treasure!
  • Metal items
    For items like old baking trays, bike wheels, old screws and bike handles we were able to recycle them at a metal recycling bank. Although we don’t have the means to get to our nearest one, we kept a box aside for these items and my Dad kindly took them for us to be recycled.
  • Kitchenware
    Lots of charities take plates, bowls, mugs and cutlery.

I think that covers a good mix of all the more ‘unusual’ things you wouldn’t necessarily know could be recycled. For some of these things mentioned, we had a lot of (particularly old towels, bed linen and underwear), so knowing that none of these have ended up in the landfill is very reassuring. A lot of these, I would have just thrown away before (as I would have just assumed that I couldn’t recycle it). It’s so worth googling something you’re not sure of. The internet provided me with so much useful information and I’m glad I could donate and recycle rather than throw away, so much of what we cleared out.

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