Living simply - how to declutter responsibly.

The Marie Kondo effect has resonated with many, sparking a mass decluttering by people all over the world. This has now sparked the growing concern that unwanted objects from such clear-outs are not being disposed of responsibly, either being dumped at overflowing charity shops or ending up in landfill. Whilst I have no problem with anyone decluttering and minimising what they have, I do it myself! We all need to make sure we are disposing of these items responsibly. This guide covers how you can ethically rid yourself of items that no longer bring you joy.

We have recently moved house and while I wouldn’t say we buy a lot, nor do we have heaps of stuff. There was definitely room for improvement. Also I had been holding onto a lot of stuff as I needed to look into the best way to move it on and also find some time to dedicate to doing this.

I can tell you that minimising what you have a decluttering responsibly isn’t a fast fix. It sure takes time to do it responsibly, but its super worth it in the long run.

Firstly as we had just shifted I was able to just not unpack the stuff we didn’t need anymore. If my house was already unpacked I would have just done this process room by room. Every couple of days I set my self a task. Ok unpack two boxes today and sort out where that stuff needs to go and take it to said place.  Or, ok today is the day I sort out all the kids old clothes they don’t fit. I am still not 100% finished this process but I am happy with where I have got to.

Here are the ways in which I was able to responsibly dispose of our excess stuff.

More often than not someone in your circle may wish to receive what you are giving out. Ask around.



Firstly I joined a few Facebook groups. The first was a local Freecycle group. You take a pic of the things you don’t want anymore and upload to the page along with a description of the product and set your terms. i.e FIFS, pick up today, who wants it most. The admin team then approve your post before it goes live.

I got rid of a lot of excess stuff that was perfectly useable, but maybe a bit dated, and I knew wouldn’t get sold or be worth the hassle to put on Trademe. Things I popped up. Mirrors, lamps, platters, bowls, glasses, kids stuff, rugs. If it’s free pop it up. About 99% of my things got picked up straight away. 


There are a few groups now on Facebook that you can sign up to too donate or sell used reusable nappies. I had a few nappies that didn’t work for my boy so I got in contact with a local group, they had a representative in the area that I was able to drop everything off to. They then did a strip and sanitise and redistributed them to those in need or those wanting to try reusables. How awesome!

For items that were newish or I knew would get money I popped on Trademe. Car seats, Garden rocks (SO EXPENSIVE to buy new), furniture. Always good to get a bit of money back! I often just did a $1 reserve so that the product would definitely go. And I specified that it was pick up only so that it was less work for me.

Luckily I have a little sister I can pass on many items to, but also at the moment a lot of friends about to have babes. I made up ‘gift packs’ of good quality second hand stuff for family and friends depending on the age of their kids or if they were having a new born. I even made up a pack for a friend of a friend who was about to have a babe but short on supplies and cash.

Any clothes that were ‘designer’ or perfect quality I listed on Childer.

Any clothes that didn’t make any of the piles above or were pretty had it, (ripped or stained) I bundled up for the clothing bin, these then get taken to op shops – shipped to poorer countries or recycled through textile recycling, but this was always my last resort as when you put clothes in one of those bins who actually knows what really happens! 

Ring your local shops first and ask if they need anything, don’t just dump your stuff on them. It’s not their responsibility to sift through your stuff and then dispose of what’s un needed.

This is a weird one, but if we need to go to the dump, often a last resort or if we have lots of garden waste, we take something that we don’t want or need any more into the dump shop, they only take what they know they can sell and they give you a discount on your dump fees, or more often than not you can get your fees waved. When my husband is off to the dump I often ask if he has an offering for the dump shop man.  Win win.

If you have some nice stuff that you would like to donate call around a few of your local charities and see if there is anything they need. Salvos, women’s refuge centres, Littlemore. Again it’s best to give them what they need and not make it their responsibility to dispose of your stuff.

Our new home had a garden FULL of rocks. Big ones, smalls ones, all sorts of rocks. And whilst the garden looked great it wasn’t what we needed i.e grow food not grass – or in our case rocks. We wanted to add some big veg gardens and clear more room for the kids to play so we sold off the rock in piles on Trademe and not only did we get money for them, the buyers came to pick them up! Also upon clearing the garden we found lots of pots, little statues and just general garden paraphernalia. Luckily a flyer magically appeared in our letter box from a lady who takes all this stuff and either recycles, up cycles or on sells! She also comes to pick it all up. This was a blessing an wonderfully timed as otherwise we would have had to dump most of it. If you are in Auckland I would be happy to pass on her details or see if there is one in your area!

After sorting all of your items and trying your best to either pass on, donate, freecycle or sell you will be surprised at how much you can actually get rid of responsibly it just takes a little time (there are even wonderful people who take your things to upcycle i.e pool toys, you just need to ask around). The feeling of less clutter and the knowledge that most of your items are living a wonderful second life is a great feeling. It could also make you feel a little smug, and you know what – you can, you deserve it.

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