Eco-Friendly Decluttering

Guest post by Rachel Papworth – decluttering coach and blogger. First of a series on eco-decluttering

I’m Rachel Papworth, from Green and Tidy. I help people with WAY too much stuff, declutter and create homes they love, homes that support them to live the lives they want to live.

Reducing clutter simplifies life. Plus regularly and frequently reviewing your stuff, and moving stuff on, helps you  let go of the past, mentally as well as physically.

Decluttering and organising saves time and money. You can find anything you own quickly and easily, you don’t buy duplicates because you know what you’ve got, and you can fit everything you own in the space you have so you don’t have to pay for off-site storage.

And decluttering reduces your environmental impact. By decluttering, you keep stuff in circulation, rather than hoarding and storing it. So other people can use it rather than buying new. Plus you need less space because you’ve got less stuff. And you consume less because you don’t buy duplicates.

For me, decluttering and organising are a key element to living a low impact life.

Yet, at the same time, being green-minded can be a disincentive to declutter. Green-minded people can struggle to part with things before they’ve totally worn them out. Even more so if it seems unlikely an item will get reused by someone else.

We end up hoarding things because we can’t bear to send them to landfill and we don’t know what else we can do with them.

I’ve collated some ways to reuse and recycle goods in general, and ways to move on specific things. This post covers general approaches. Next week, I’ll cover some specifics.


In the reduce, reuse, recycle waste hierarchy, reuse comes before recycle.

If you’re committed to being as eco-friendly as possible, of course you only recycle goods that no-one is able/willing to reuse.

So the first thing to consider when moving something on is whether it can be used by someone else. Ways to get stuff to people who might use it include:

  • Giving to family/friends. This could be as birthday gifts or gifts for other special occasions (regifting), or just passing them on for no particular reason (check they actually want the items though. They may feel cluttered too!
  • Donating goods to charity shops. You can find out where there are charity shops near you and get information on the sort of goods they accept here. Don’t leave goods outside charity shops while they’re closed as your bags may get torn open and the goods end up all over the street and/or stolen. If you’re in the US, you can deduct the value of goods you donate to charity from your tax. Click here for details.
  • Selling through, for example, ebay, Gumtree, Amazon, local classified ads or a car boot/tabletop sale.
  • Websites for trading goods, such as Swapshop.
  • Websites for giving stuff away, including Freecycle, Freegle, AnyGoodToYou, EcoBees, JunkSniper. You can give away a wider range of goods on these sites than charity shops can sell. For example, through my local networks, I’ve either given away or accepted:
  • - Broken jewellery
  • - Corks from wine bottles
  • - Empty jam jars
  • - Opened cosmetics/toiletries
  • - Food
  • - Broken electrical items
  • - Empty plastic yoghurt pots
  • - Empty cardboard shuttlecock tubes
  • - Empty plastic thread reels
  • - Candle wax.

You can find more advice on Freecycling here.

Some people leave their unwanted goods outside their home, perhaps with a ‘please take’ notice on them. Bear in mind that, though this can be a quick and easy way to move stuff on, technically it’s fly-tipping. Plus, if it rains or the goods stay outside for several days, they can deteriorate beyond use. Not to mention be unsightly for your neighbours.


Different Councils collect different materials for recycling. Find out what your Council collects, and what you can take to local recycling sites by visiting Recycle Now and entering your postcode.

Recycle Now also tell you how your goods are recycled so, if (like me) you’re a recycling geek, have a nose around it.

Recycle This has been running since 2006 with the aim of finding and sharing ways to recycle things.

Photo by Kodomut

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