Easily Re-homing items a.k.a reducing the guilt

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One of the biggest questions many people face when deciding to move items on from their living space is ‘What do I do with it?’ Sadly, for many this often ends in the items making their way to landfill, via either kerbside rubbish pick up or a trip to the local tip, which can have devastating long-term impacts on our environment, not to mention wasted resources and money. The guilt associated with ‘getting rid’ of an item that no longer serves a purpose for us can be really difficult to overcome, especially if you see throwing it away as the only avenue of discarding it. So what are some ways to alleviate the guilt of getting rid of our ‘stuff’ while also doing so in a more sustainable manner?

If it ain’t broke…
Primarily, if an item is not broken beyond repair, PLEASE do not just throw it out! There are many viable alternatives for what to do with unwanted items that still have life left in them.

However, if an item is broken, try mending it yourself, or find a handy-man or professional who works in that area to have a go at fixing it for you. Sometimes all an item needs is a good clean and a few minor repairs to bring it back to its former glory. Failing this, dispose of it thoughtfully, recycling or reusing as many components as possible.

Okay, it ain’t broke…but I still don’t want it.

Alright, so it is not broken, or you have had it mended, but it still does not fit your purpose or current needs in your life. What now? Well there are plenty of options out there for how to re-home your items in a purposeful and responsible way. Some of the most common ways you can move your items from your space into another are explored below:

1.     Opportunity Shops

There is no doubt that Opportunity Shops (or ‘op shops’ as they are more often known) are a very common way for people to pass on items they no longer want or need. Yes, op shops can be a great way to go, but in the current craze of de-cluttering and tidying as spurred on by many books and television shows such as the popular Netflix series featuring Marie Kondo, op shops are being inundated with goods that they cannot store or sell. Sadly, many op shops are now no longer accepting donations of clothing or goods due to the overwhelming influx of items they are receiving.

If you wish to donate your unwanted items to an op shop in your local area, please make contact with them first to ensure they are willing and able to accept your donation, and make your donation during business hours to avoid the huge mess that op shop volunteers and workers often face upon arriving to their place of work. You can read more about Tania’s experience with this problem in her local area here.

2.     Re-gifting or passing along

Gifting or passing along items in great condition to others whom you know would benefit from or enjoy having said item can be a fantastic way to re-home your unwanted or unnecessary items.

However, it is imperative that the person to whom you are offering the item understands that there is absolutely no pressure to accept if they really do not wish to take it. It is so important that in offering items to others we do not force them upon people, as this just perpetuates the problem of ‘What do I do with this now?’ A person who feels forced to take an item is unlikely to put that item to good use, defeating the purpose of your thoughtful and sustainable re-homing in the first place. Always be sure to check with the person first, and make it clear to them that they do not have to accept.

3.     Donation specific organisations

For many specific items that you want to rid your home and living space of, there are organisations dedicated to either their re-use or recycling. Take for example prescription glasses; Lions Club Australia runs a ‘Recycle for Sight’ program where they accept used prescription glasses and sunglasses to be distributed overseas to others in need.

Other Australia-wide organisations include:

·      Recycled Sound – hearing aids

·      Angel gowns – wedding and debutante gowns

·      Pinchapoo – Toiletries and personal care

·      Mobile Muster – mobile phones and accessories

·      Share the Dignity – bags, sanitary and personal care items

·      Uplift Bras – bras and swimwear

·      Boomerang Bags – fabric and sewing supplies

4.     Local buy, swap and sell communities

Local Buy, Swap, Sell communities are a great resource for both on-selling and sourcing items. Often found via Facebook, most communities will have a Buy, Swap, Sell page where you can post photographs and descriptions of your unwanted items for others to purchase. Interested parties make contact by commenting on the photographs or via a direct message to the seller. I personally have passed on many unwanted items through my local Buy, Swap, Sell page with great success, making a few extra dollars in the process!

If you are not after any money for your items another great resource often found on Facebook are the local ‘Free-cycle’ or ‘Pay it forward’ groups. Designed to be a simple way to connect your unwanted items to someone who does want them, no money changes hands through these communications, but it works in much the same way as the Buy Swap Sell groups; post a photograph and description, interested parties contact you, arrange a way to deliver/pick up and that is it! Your unwanted item has gone to a new home for another chance at life, and you are happy to have moved it along without feeling guilty about the wasted resources or money.

Whilst using groups such as these can be intimidating at first, you very soon get the hang of it, and if technology is not your thing, you can always ask a friend or family member to lend a hand and teach you how to do it, or just do it for you.

To find your local Buy, Swap, Sell groups, try searching on Facebook for your town name and ‘Buy Swap Sell’ e.g. ‘Bairnsdale Buy Swap Sell’. To find your local Free-cycle or Pay it Forward group try the same search, replacing ‘Buy Swap Sell’ with ‘Free-cycle’ or ‘Pay it Forward’ e.g. ‘Bairnsdale and Surrounds Free-cycle’.

5.     E-bay and gumtree

Taking the game farther afield, if you are looking to sell some of your unwanted items and hoping to reach a wider audience, try sites like E-bay or Gumtree. Gumtree operates just like an online classifieds site; you list your item with details, a photograph and a price, and sellers contact you if interested in purchasing your item.

E-bay is slightly different in that it is an auction-style site. Again, you list your item with a description and photograph, setting a starting price and, if you like, a ‘Buy it now’ price at which buyers can choose to by-pass the auction and pay a higher amount to secure the item right away.

Downsides to these sites may be fees you have to pay on items that you sell, or ensuring that your item can be easily posted or freighted in order to reach your customer. Personally I have found E-bay great for selling quality unwanted clothing; it is easy to pack and post and unlikely to be damaged in transit.

Again, if technology is not your thing, you can ask a friend or family member to assist you in getting started.

6.     Local community organisations

Local community organisations are a great place to check in with when re-homing items you no longer want or need. Communities like Neighbourhood Houses, Women’s refuges, and Foster-care organisations may accept items such as clothing, utensils, crockery and cookware, or baby goods and toys. Your local RSPCA or Animal Aid facilities often take donations of pet food and blankets or towels. Local kindergartens, schools, medical clinics or Maternal and Child Health Centres are all places you may like to contact in regards to donating craft supplies, kid’s toys, games and books for use in their facilities or waiting areas.

As always, please check with the organisations prior to arriving with donations.

7.     Sharing  items

A final idea is to share less frequently used items with friends who have a similar needs-basis to you. One great example of this is maternity and baby items. Friends who may be having babies around the same time period, but somewhat staggered, can find that sharing maternity clothing, bottles and breast pumps (properly sterilised and stored), baby swings, walkers and activity gyms, or car seats and capsules is not only a space saver at times when these items are not required, but also a big money saver.

With a bit of creative thinking and honest analysis about how often an item is required or used, you may find that there are things you can easily share with others to ensure that you both get better use and joy out of the item, without the headache of what to do with it when you no longer require it.

Making the decision to de-clutter your space and thinking honestly about what you actually use and need can be a huge undertaking, and quite physically and mentally exhausting. Alleviating the guilt often associated with ‘getting rid’ of these items can help ensure the decisions made in the process are followed through, and moving items on in a useful, purposeful and sustainable manner is vital to achieving this.

Jo,

Women Against Waste Ambassador