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Ten Creative Ideas for Getting Rid of Junk

By Tiffany Owens

At first glance, minimalist trends that call for fewer possessions, constant decluttering and downsizing might seem like nothing more than passing fads. But beyond their surface trendiness, these lifestyles point to the wisdom of being intentional about our possessions. Avoiding clutter leads not only to a more organized and peaceful home but also allows our homes to more fully express our values and priorities.

Yet we all know that despite our best efforts, clutter can stack up faster than we can keep up. Too often we find drawers, closets and even entire rooms full of things we’ve kept without really knowing why. Instead of exhibiting our values and most cherished memories, our homes can often start to feel more like a storage bin.

If this is how you feel, then a detox might be what you need. Detoxing is an opportunity to think more carefully about the possessions we keep and to reorganize our homes around what matters most to us. Along the way, you may discover the need to throw away large items you don’t need anymore but that are too large to toss in the trash bin. Instead of simply dragging them to a junk site, here are 10 creative ideas to try first. Find more intentional home living tips here.

Host a swap party to get rid of unwanted clothes

1. Host a swap party

Of course detoxing will highlight some items that just need to be thrown out, but you might find a few that could still be useful to someone else. Instead of donating these items anonymously, why not host a swap party? Invite your friends to bring a few of their gently-used-but-no-longer needed items to your house and swap with each other. Not only will you get rid of things you don’t need anymore, but you’ll have fun socializing and maybe find something that is useful for your home.

Need help lugging out old items to donate, trade, or sell?

2. Post in the free section on Craigslist

You might be convinced that what you’re throwing away truly is trash, but you might be surprised at the number of people who would consider it “treasure.” Before chucking your ancient couch, wobbly bookshelf or vintage VHS player, try posting it as an item in the “free” section of Craigslist. Alternatively, if you live in a well-populated urban area, you might find that simply putting it outside with a “free” sign is sufficient enough to move it on to a new home.

Some items you can give away for free

3. Post in a local “No-buy” group

Similar to Craigslist, the Internet is full of “No-buy” groups — online communities for people who have committed to buying as few items as possible for their daily needs, opting to swap with each other instead. Such a group might be the perfect place to post about your functional items that are still in decent shape but don’t merit the amount of energy it would take to actually sell them. A Google or Facebook search is all you need to find if such a group exists in your area.

4. Refurbish/Reuse

With some items, what you need more than a trash bag is a new perspective. What might initially look like trash could actually transform into a helpful item with just a little creativity and your DIY skills. Before you toss an item, why not research for creative ways to reuse or repurpose it or pieces of it? After all, the more you can recycle, the better!

Donate old books to a local thrift store

5. Donate old books, clothes, shoes to local organizations

Instead of making an anonymous donation to a thrift store, why not bring them to non-profits who would benefit from not having to buy them? Libraries can always use books, animal shelters would love your old blankets and unneeded shoes and clothes would be greatly welcomed at homeless shelters. Making more specific, personal donations is an easy way to make your detoxing process more meaningful.

6. Take electronics to stores that can recycle them

As tempting as it might be to chuck old, unused electronics into the trash, this is actually quite dangerous for the planet. A better move would be to bag them up and take them to a store with an electronics-recycling depot. Grocery stores and office supply stores and electronics stores are common places you’ll find a place to drop off the electronics you’re recycling.

7. Turn old wood into mulch

Even if you’re not a serious gardener, mulch created from repurposed wood is a healthy addition to any lawn or landscape. Adding mulch to the base of the trees and bushes in your yard helps them retain moisture while protecting them against weeds. Mulch is rather expensive, so making your own from wooden items you don’t need anymore is not only a clever way to recycle those items, but it will also save you money. Simply borrow or rent a woodchopper and feed the wood into it, being sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Pro-tip: Weed your garden before laying down your new mulch as giving them mulch will just help them grow!

Host a free yard sale

8. Host a free yard sale

What’s more fun than a yard sale? A free yard sale! Organize the items you don’t want anymore, but that might still be valuable to someone else and put up signs for a free yard sale one weekend. Not only is this a likely way to attract curious “customers,” but you just might find yourself meeting some new neighbors!

9. Sell gently used clothing (or house goods) over Instagram

With billions of users, Instagram is an easy platform for posting well-lit photos of the clothes and home goods you don’t need anymore but that are too valuable to donate. Make a separate account just for this project and promote it constantly to your friends but also to strangers through the use of strategic hashtags. Be sure to include the cost of shipping and handling in the price and correspond with interested buyers through Direct Messages.

10. Sell to a local scrapyard

For larger items, a visit to your local scrapyard might be a more useful and environmentally-friendly way to recycle them while making some pocket money. Scrap yards pay by the pound, so it’s a good idea to research different yards ahead of time to get a sense of their process and the price per pound that they’re offering that day as prices change daily. It’s also a good idea to save up as much metal as you can ahead of time (you’ll get a better price this way) and to sort it before you arrive.

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Let’s face it—detoxing your belongings and removing junk is no one’s idea of fun. But opting as much as possible for creative, environmentally-friendly and collaborative ideas will turn this stressful experience into one that’s enjoyable and meaningful. Of course, you might end up with some items that simply must be commissioned to the junkyard or that require professional help, but getting to this point will be much more satisfying if you’ve exhausted your creative ideas first.