User login

A Community of Green Bloggers & Activists

Going Green When Downsizing

Because life gets so busy we often forget about all the stuff collected throughout our lives and how much of it in the big picture is truly insignificant. That’s why downsizing and letting go of a lot of belongings is a great way to feel lighter and spring is the perfect time to begin the process. 

As you start making progress, though, one thing to consider is how to responsibly dispose of the items you no longer want. After all some things are truly trash while many others aren’t and there’s no sense adding to a landfill when something greener can be done with them. 

So if simplifying life is on your agenda here’s a few ideas for what to do with some of those common possessions that may be filling your home which you are now ready to give up: 

1.    Old School Papers: School papers going back as far as kindergarten sometimes get forgotten in boxes stored in an attic or basement. Though you may want to hold on to a few drawings or creative writing samples those old tests and exercises can be tossed in the recycle bin. 

2.    Notebooks: Notebooks that still have blank paper can be used as address books, sketch pads, as scrap paper and more. When they are full recycle both the paper and coil holding it together.  

3.    Random tchotchkes: Is there anything more collectable than random tchotchkes? Some of us have boxes of them which aren’t easy to clear out but once they’ve been sorted through and you have a give away pile do exactly that. Give them away! Use them as add-ons for gifts, as cute little reminders to others how much you love them, or donate to a kids shelter where young imaginations can take them to a whole new level.  

4.    Magazines: Whether it’s a magazine collection or stacks of random ones if you decide to get rid of them recycling is one option. Another is to contact local schools to see if art departments staying alive on a shoestring budget could use some extra materials. 

5.    Clothing: Articles of clothing no longer worn can be donated to a charity or local religious institution. Alternatively a clothing swap could be arranged amongst friends and the leftovers donated. Whatever direction you choose know there’s always people who need clothing so don’t put any out with the trash, 

6.    Furnishings: Find some useless furniture like chairs, a small table, lamps and other pieces? What’s useless to you may be useful to someone else. Put them on the curb or post a listing for free furniture on a local social media site. Just make sure if they are outside the trash truck doesn’t take them away. 

7.    Toys: Ahhh, finally some real nostalgia! Either pass them on to your own kids, drop them off at a children’s hospital, give them to an organization that will distribute them to children in need, or if they are collectables sell them to a dealer. 

8.    Art supplies: If you find art supplies give usable items to someone who would appreciate them and make sure old paints or other unusable materials that may contain toxic substances are disposed of properly. 

9.    Books: It’s never easy to give up books but the truth is unless it’s something you know you will reference or want to read again there’s no reason to hold on to all those extras. If they are outdated text books they are probably best utilized as a door stop or simply recycled. Otherwise sell them or drop them off at a used book store where they can be redistributed into the reading world. 

10.    Music: Even if your musical tastes haven’t changed over the years chances are you don’t enjoy listening to your favorite artists on vinyl, cassettes, or CDs anymore (the exception may be vinyl). One green option for disposing of these includes sending them to organizations or private companies that recycle audio media. Another is to dip into your endless imagination and come up with one of the many creative ways to reuse them so they don’t end up in the dump.  

Jakob Barry is a home improvement journalist for He blogs for pros across the U.S. like Henderson, NV tile contractors and floor installation in Charlotte, NC.