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Recycling your belongings (and sometimes getting money for them)

A little while ago I asked my Mum what I wanted to be when I was growing up.  I remembered wanting to write books once I was a little older, but I wanted to know if there was anything I latched onto from a really young age.  "Well, when you were younger," she said, "all you really wanted to do was save the planet."  Fond memories came back of poring over my Usborne books about the earth, sponsoring a dolphin and reading, and worrying, about wildlife that were becoming extinct.  Even though I never ran away to be an eco-warrior, these sensibilities still stay with me and luckily both Tom and I are passionate about recycling and minimising our environmental impact.  Our local council is really good in the way of recycling and we have a huge recycling bin and smaller bins for food waste and other items.  Personally we put our food waste and teabags etc on our compost heap, which is now generating compost that will go on our raised vegetable beds.  We grew an abundance of vegetables last year and we always try and reuse or recycle, sending things to the landfill as a last resort.

Obviously this tendency to find other uses for things or trying to avoid them going off to a big hole in the ground extends to some of our larger belongings like clothes, CDs and DVDs and furniture.  As you might remember from my 'Building a capsule wardrobe' post, I'm a big fan of having a clearout and purging the house of things you don't use any more.  If you went into my office at work you'd see that I live by the adage 'tidy desk, tidy mind' and I have routine blitzes of clothes and other belongings to stop things getting cluttered at home and make way for new ones.  Here are some tips for ensuring your clearouts are planet-friendly.

img credit: immediaterelief.tumblr.com

CDs, DVDs and games - A couple of years ago I sold my entire CD collection to www.musicmagpie.co.uk.  I had about 100 CDs which ranged in what they gave me from about 30p to about £6.  You just put in the barcode number to log them on their system and then they collect them and then pay you.  There's even an app you can download that scans the barcodes for you.  Even better, they're now a bit of a one-stop-shop if you're having a clearout as they take clothes, electronics and phones and you can log the whole lot at once.

Books - Although I use my Kindle a lot I also still really love buying books.  I used to keep every book I bought but my house isn't really big enough for that so now I only keep the ones I know I'll read again.  I recently organised a book sale at work for charity and got rid of lots of unwanted books that way (as well as unfortunately investing in quite a few more) and we've also agreed to offer unwanted books to other members of the book club I belong to.  Another great way I've found to make room for new books in your collection is Read It Swap It.  Using Read It Swap it you can log all the books you are getting rid of and then all of the books you want.  You can then find people getting rid of the ones you want and offer them one from your collection in return (I've made that sound way more complicated than it is).

Clothes - Personally a lot of my clothes end up going in the bags you get through the door for charity collections.  Most of my unwanted clothes are two-years-old Primark or H&M and just aren't going to make me millions on eBay.  I used to be a really enthusiastic eBayer but when you spend hours listing it all, make several trips to the Post Office and then get someone whinging that there's a dropped stitch or they don't think it was worth the 99p they paid I start to lose patience.  These days I only sell things on eBay if I know it's going to make me more than about £10 - otherwise it's just not worth the effort.  If you can't bear to let your clothes go for nothing you could try a blog sale (if you're a blogger) or a car boot sale.  A word of warning with car boot sales however - start by thinking how much you think an item is worth, then divide it by about 5.  That's what you'll get for it!  People like to haggle and they don't care that it cost you £20, they'll offer you 50p.  As I always seem to be going on about on here, one of the best ways I've found of not letting mounds of unwanted clothes go to waste is buying less and buying better.  Spending more time and money investing in clothes that are better quality and will last more than just one season means I don't find lots of clothes with tags in I'd forgot I'd even bought hanging in the back of my wardrobe.

I also recently came across another website - Fashion Shwap - that will take items that are new with tags or only worn once and give you store credit for their online shop.  You can fill in a form on their website and send photos of your item and they will send you out a prepaid postage bag if they accept the item and then give you store credit.  They sell brands like Love, Rare and Sugarhill Boutique so are well worth checking out if you're looking to rejuvenate your wardrobe.

Furniture and larger items - I'm a massive fan of Freecycle for unwanted items that aren't practical for selling on eBay.  When we redid our garden last year we had about 50 paving slabs we couldn't face taking to the dump, so I popped them on Freecycle and within minutes about 20 people had responded and a chap turned up with a van and took the lot the next day.  It's nice to know they went to a good home and to people who wanted them rather than just going to the tip (which would have taken hours and a lot of hard slog!)


Do you have any other top tips for recycling your belongings?

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11 comments

  1. I love read it swap it, although I haven't been on there in ages. I have soooo many cds that need to go. They are in a big box in our attic. I went on music magpie a few years ago, but I think they offered me about 1p for each CD :P not a fan of nsync and britney spears it seems.

    Jen | sunny sweet pea xx

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  2. I really loved this post. I try to minimise my environmental impact too but unfortunetly the city I live in (Glasgow) isn't as good for recycling as where I grew up (Aberdeenshire). But thank you for all these new links. I definetly need to clear out the CD's I bought when I was 15!!

    Morag x
    moadore.blogspot.com

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  3. this post was really unique and interesting, thanks!

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  4. Such a great post about organising! I am quite a fan of Freecycle, and I am always keen to recycle/re-use where I can. It's far more satisfying seeing things go to a good home than having them cluttering up the house xxx

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  5. I know exactly what you mean about people buying on ebay. I sold a really expensive digital camera which went for about £5 and the woman who bought it sent me some really horrid e-mails saying that it had a scratch on it and she needed to buy some black paint to cover it as she had bought it for a present for her daughter and that I should pay £3 for the purchase of the paint. I told her to send it back if she didn't like it and never heard from her again! Very interesting about Music Magpie - did you sell them as you had put them all on itunes? We have about 500 CD's that never see light of day! Love your blog and WAMK too! Sharon X

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  6. Aw Rosie, how cute about your childhood 'dream'. I sponsored a dolphin, tiger and orangutan when I was little, and volunteered for the WWF with my Mama for a little bit when I was obsessed with all things eco. This post has brought back so many memories for me and really kickstarted my wish to recycle! Last week I donated a third of my wardrobe to the British Heart Foundation, but I really must get on it with some of my old books (if I can bear to part with them... books = friends!)! xxxx

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  7. I have hundreds and hundreds of books that for some reason rarely sell at car boot sales. I've been looking for lots of ways to get rid of them, so will definitely try read it swap it.

    Also I agree with you with clothes at car boot sales. They rarely want to pay over £1 for something no matter what brand it is. Also, a good thing for clothes would be 'cash for clothes' there's a few around (be careful for scams though) you either drop off, or they collect, your clothes and pay for the weight. You won't get a lot, but it's something.

    Jess @ditzyglamour
    http://www.ditzyglamour.blogspot.co.uk
    x

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  8. This is a really good post and will help when I try/decide to sort through things. :)

    Lou

    www.thekeypieces.co.uk

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  9. What a great post - very helpful indeed. I'm in need of a good clear out - I have clothes just waiting to get moved out of my spare room!

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  10. Great tips Rosie. I am such a horder and have a lot of things I don't need anymore which I really should get rid of. Thats so exciting that you can grow your own vegetables in your garden...I can't wait to get a garden so I can try and grow things, although I can't even keep a houseplant alive haha.
    Lianne x
    Rubyrubyslippers.blogspot.com

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  11. You could also make quilts from your old clothes, I usually get holes or other things in my clothes ;) so you could save up the bits that are good and reuse them.
    I've seen lovely bedspreads made from old (hard)rock thirts prints (just google "quilt old t-shirt") and started learning how to quilt last year ;)

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Thank you in advance for your lovely comments, they mean the world to me! If you have a question or want to get in touch, tweet me at @rosieoutlook.