How Your Declutter Can Change the World

Most of us have been predominantly locked up in our homes for the past few months, and without the usual distractions of trips out to meet friends and holidays abroad all of the clutter in our homes is starting to become all the more oppressive.

According to Psychology Today, there are multiple benefits to decluttering your home, such as:

  • A sense of confidence and competence. Decluttering utilizes both your problem solving and decision making abilities, and as a result boosts your belief in your ability to do other problem solving tasks and make quick decisions.
  • Increased energy. As decluttering involves making a series of quick decisions, you get a sense of accomplishment from ticking multiple jobs off of a list. This sense of accomplishment leaves you feeling energized.
  • Reduced anxiety. As a species we have a preference for order and symmetry, and cultivating an ordered environment to live in therefore reduces anxiety.
  • A break from cognitive work. If you are working from home, taking breaks to do so a small decluttering task can actually increase your productivity because you are moving around and taking a break from concentrated thinking. Regular breaks allow your mind to perform at it’s best, as does regular movement.
  • Harmony between family members. Arguments in the home over who left what mess where and where on earth have you keys gone are common place. If you live in a clutter free environment then simply there are less things to argue over.
  • Discovery of lost treasures. When you declutter you give yourself the opportunity to find treasured items that have been lost at the back of cupboards or in corners of attics.

As well as being great for you, if you are mindful about what you do with your unwanted possessions your declutter can make a really positive impact on the world or to your own bank balance. Selling online is always an option, or there are a multitude of charities and organizations that will gladly put your unwanted items to good use.


When it comes to clothes, first you need to work out if they are still fit for purpose. If they are (e.g. they are not stained, ripped, or heavily worn) then you can sell them online. Some sites you can use are:

  • thredUP – will send you a prepaid bag and you just fill it and return it. They handle the photography and the listing, so all you have to do is wait to see what sells.
  • Etsy – specializes in handmade and vintage items. Be aware you will pay a small commission fee on the sale.
  • eBay – an oldie but a goodie! You can sell anything at all on eBay, and you can either list your item with a price or allow people to bid and see how much you make.
  • The Real Real – is for selling luxury items. They’ll pick up your items from you, and guarantee you 85% of the profits.
  • Kidizen – is designed specifically for kids books and toys. Pick up some new bargains while you’re there too!

If you don’t want to sell your items then donating to Goodwill is a great option because they use the proceeds to help people facing challenges in finding employment, to help them build skills and build a career.

However, your items must be good quality otherwise Goodwill won’t be able to sell them. Their staff will still have to spend time sorting them though, so you will actually be harming the cause by donating unsuitable items. A good rule of thumb is that if the item isn’t in good enough condition that you would give it to a friend, then it probably isn’t good enough for Goodwill. If your items aren’t of good quality, contact your local thrift store to see if they have a partnership with a clothing recycler as they may be able to help you – but always check before donating.

Some brands, especially outdoor clothing brands, have started accepting back their own worn clothing as they can refurbish and resell them. Brands doing this include Patagonia, REI and The North Face.

If you have worn denim, you could donate it to Blue Jeans Go Green via mail, who will turn it into insulation.

Finally if none of these options seems suitable, try repairing or upcycling the fabric yourself! There are plenty of tutorials on YouTube, and if you were going to be throwing the clothes out anyway then what’s the harm?

Ultimately every item of clothing that you don’t send to landfill is doing a small amount to save the planet, so it’s worth trying to avoid.

Plastic Bags

We all have that cupboard. You know the one. The one where you open it and fifty old plastic bags spring out at you. Plastic doesn’t decompose so throwing out these bags isn’t ideal. Instead, see if you can find a way to reuse them. Some uses for old carrier bags are:

  • Use them in your suitcase for shampoo and other bottles that might leak
  • Bin liners for small bins
  • In your car boot for de-icer and other things that may leak
  • As packing material
  • Loosely tie around plants overnight to protect them from frost (be sure to remove again in the morning)

Or if you’re crafty you could even make something like a plant pot, rug, collage or even a pair of sandals!


If you have an old car that you have been unable to sell, before you junk it and contribute further to the landfill problem, consider donating it to a good cause.

For example, the Rawhide car and vehicle donation center accepts donations of boats, RV’s, motorcycles, campers and jet skis, and the proceeds all go to help at-risk teens and families living in Wisconsin. They’ll even come and pick it up from you!


Like clothing, furniture can be sold or repaired or given a new lease on life with a lick of paint or new upholstery.

Otherwise, old furniture can be donated to the Furniture Bank Association of America, The Salvation Army or to Goodwill. Generally these organizations will pick up the furniture directly from your house so it’s really convenient!

Electrical Appliances

If you’ve replaced your electrical appliances for a newer model, many shelters or charities could probably make great use of your old ones. Contact your local organizations to see if they can make use of them.

If you don’t have any luck with local charitable organizations, check out Earth 911’s guide on how to recycle almost anything for detailed advice on what to do.


If your books are in good condition then you can sell them using Amazon or eBay, donate them to Goodwill, or donate them to a specialist charity like Better World Books, Books for Africa and Books for Soldiers.

Books that are too battered to be sold or donated can usually be recycled, you’ll just need to remove the cover if they are hardcover. Alternatively, you could use your battered pages for a fun craft project!