Zero Waste

Week 13: Donate Instead of Throwing Away

This week I want to share my experiences in making a transition in how I get rid of things I don’t need anymore. Here’s my secret – I love a good purge. It’s so hard to get started, but once you remove unnecessary clutter from your life, it can open new doors.

A few years back my family downsized. We move from 2400 square feet to about 1000 square feet so there was a lot of stuff that we needed to get rid of. We also lost storage space by way of a garage and a basement – and the new house has zero closets. It was definitely a transition! Over the past few years, though, we have learned to live more simply in part by getting rid of a lot of toys, clothes, kitchen appliances, and extra junk. Some stuff that had to go in the trash, but I also discovered some amazing resources for donating, sharing, or swapping things that we didn’t want anymore.

Trash Nothing is an amazing resource that I found years ago. Trash Nothing is freecycling website that encourages people to post offers (things they want to get rid of) and wants (things they are looking for). I’ve used it for electronics, home renos, kids clothes, my yarn and scrap fabric addiction, appliances, books… you get the idea. They have an awesome daily digest feature that emails daily wants and offers to your inbox in the morning and they recently released a mobile app as well. It doesn’t get much easier than that!

Bunz Trading Zone is a group that I recently joined that operates in a similar way. People can post items that they have to offer or items that they are looking to acquire, but in this case, other people offer items that they have for trade. Most people seem to be happy with house plants, beer, books, or baked goods 🙂 So far I’ve acquired a laptop charge cable and a massive bag of oregano.

If those options fail, there are lots of places that will accept donations, but a word of warning: please make sure that your items are in good enough condition to resell. If not, it may just end up in the landfill anyway. Here’s an article that explains where our donated clothes end up. The gist is that up to 90% of donated clothing is sold to textile recyclers, who in turn will re-sell about 25% overseas. If you are going to donate clothes, furniture, or even building supplies, check with locally owned non profits before going to larger chains.

If you want to donate but can’t get your load to a donation drop-off site, consider signing up for one of the charities that will come around and pick up donations right off your porch. Check out Diabetes Canada and the Ontario Federation for Cerebral Palsy.

My partner also does regular runs to the scrap yard to sell old metal that will be sold to recycling plants. Here’s a cool video that shows how the metal recycling process works: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qAGCI0-pQ3E

And when all else fails – post an update on your favourite social network of choice and see if there are any friends or family that might want to take unwanted items off your hands. Anything to keep it out of the landfill!

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