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.

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CDs, DVDs and games – A couple of years ago I sold my entire CD collection to  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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