The Best Ways to Recycle Clutter

Jon Fesmire | Jan 10, 2017 @ 11:00 AM

First, let’s expand the definition of recycling for the purpose of this article to include reuse and repair. After all, the entire point of recycling is to not waste resources. It’s important to use what we already have so that we don’t run out.

We have already written numerous articles about organizing your home, including decluttering by putting things in their place. We’ve also covered yard sales. However, what if you don’t want to hold a yard sale, and you have items that you want to get rid of, not find a new place for? That’s where recycling comes in.

Your Home and Your Storage Unit

Go through your home and your storage unit to find things you simply don’t need. Often, we set things aside, thinking we’ll need them later. Later, we find these things and wonder why we set them aside at all. By removing items like this from your home, you can create more living space. By removing them from storage, you may be able to move what you have left to a smaller unit and save money. Look for anything you simply don’t need. This can include old clothes, mattresses (many people store mattresses only to never need them again), toys and collectibles, old computer parts, and more. Make space at home to put these things temporarily. This may be in a spare room, the garage, or even a corner of a living room. Don’t leave them there forever, though! Make a list of what you have and divide that list into categories. These may include paper, metals, electronic parts, and clothing.

A Place for Everything

Now, you can figure out what to do with those things you want to get rid of. Here are some suggestions. Depending on where you live, your local landfill may have some great recycling options, and you’ll be able to throw out anything that truly can’t be recycled. Some landfills, for example, will take mattresses and wood. Have an old reclining chair or couch on its last legs? They may take it for the wood and stuffing. Some landfills may also take metal, or electronic parts for local organizations that use them to make functioning computers and more. If you choose to not use a landfill, of course there are other great options.

Unsure whether your old clothes can be worn again? Consider dropping them off in an USAgain collection bin. There, you can drop off used clothes and textiles, so long as they are clean, dry, and secured in tied plastic bags.

Most areas have places to recycle paper, plastic, and metal, though some companies are specific about what they take. Metal recyclers often offer good money for all sorts of ferrous and nonferrous metals. Some states charge a few cents per drinking bottle or can, and you can return them to get that deposit back. Alternately, you can bring them to recycling stations.

Bring old magazines and newspapers to a company that handles paper recycling. If you have old files, such as taxes from many years ago that you no longer need, shred them before you recycle them. Of course, many companies that recycle paper will do the shredding for you.

You should not simply throw out computer and electronic parts, or put them in with ordinary recycling. This includes batteries and power sources, which can contaminate the environment. Instead, do a local Internet search to find out where you can take them. If you’re bringing in old hard drives, make sure the company taking them will thoroughly wipe the data, to protect your privacy. The materials used on old electronics can be used in new products.

Tax Deductions

As long as items are in good condition with normal wear and tear, you can donate them to charities with thrift stores, like Goodwill, St. Vincent de Paul’s, or the Salvation Army. They can then sell the items to help people in need, and you can deduct the value of the items from your income for tax purposes. These tax deductions can really help you save money.

In fact, anywhere you donate items, from those old computer parts to clothing, get a receipt if you can for when you get your taxes done.

With these steps, you’ll be able to reduce clutter and ensure that those things you no longer need get a second life.