Much like the brand Google very quickly became a verb for performing any kind of internet search, the question “Are you Kondo-ing?” – referring to the decluttering fad made popular by the much talked-about documentary starring Marie Kondo – is starting to become part of the daily vernacular.
This latest trend – basically just a fairly brutal spring clean – has seen many Australian households taking to their closets and garages to get rid of anything that doesn’t ‘spark joy’.
But in our rush to clear out the junk, are we making most the responsible choices when it comes to its next stage in life?
Here’s how you can spark joy in the planet as well as yourself, by correctly disposing of your unwanted household items.
Books and magazines
First of all, take stock of what kind of books you have to offer. Old university or school textbooks are expensive and can easily be resold (if in good nick) to students looking to save money, as can editions of specialist journals, particularly for the sciences. Special or rare hardcovers can also be sold online.
If you’ve got a pile of popular paperbacks that probably wouldn’t fetch you much on a resale facility, try taking a photo and asking your social media friends if anyone would like to take a bunch at your next coffee catch up, so you’re not making an extra trip.
Finally, there are quite a few ways to donate books in Australia via community programs, such as Little Free Libraries, Street Library, Share-a-book, Aboriginal literacy foundation, and the Footpath library.
Many of these services help out children, families in poverty or marginalised communities, and are a more direct and effective way to donate books than just dropping them off at a local op shop.
That air fryer seemed like such a good idea at the time, didn’t it? But after using it six times during your January health kick, it’s now just taking up valuable kitchen cupboard space, and it’s probably time to say goodbye. The same can be said for all of the electronic kitchen gadgets, spare phones, old laptops and iPads you’ve been keeping around “just in case”.
Now we all know by now (hopefully) that electronic devices contain a whole bunch of stuff that is totally not okay to dump in landfill, not to mention that many devices also present a personal security risk if they get into the wrong hands.
So how to dispose of them properly?
There are heaps of options. Re-selling is an obvious one. Sites like Gumtree, eBay and Facebook Marketplace go pretty well for digital items.
You can also often trade them in to their manufacturers for a discount on upgrades, or cash back in rare cases. If they’re no longer usable, you can take them to a licensed e-waste recycling or disposal drop off point, and there are also some charities that accept used devices for refurbishment and donation to local schools or low income families.
Whatever you do, if you’re not giving them to an establishment that offers data destruction, ensure that you understand how to fully get rid of any sensitive personal data on your devices. It’s not as simple as you may think.
Clothes, shoes and accessories
The most important first step in getting rid of clothes, shoes and accessories responsibly is to divide them into piles. If you have any designer items in good condition, there are many consignment companies in Australia dedicated to the online purchase and resale of high end fashion items, and these will probably be your best bet in terms of understanding the value of your stuff, and reaching your target audience.
Jewellers can offer some idea of the resale value of any expensive jewellery items, or perhaps even re-use components in a new piece. For any items that aren’t worth much individually but are still in really good condition, you can advertise them yourself through one of the usual channels as a ‘bundle of size X summer/winter items’ for a set price for the lot.
Finally, any friends or family members who are the same size as you might appreciate an hour’s head start going through your donation pile, before dropping the remainder to a local Salvos, Lifeline or Vinnies.
If you’ve exhausted all the usual resource for your saleable pieces, websites like Zilch help to connect people who are looking for free items with locals who are giving them away.
However, another great way to get rid of any unwanted children’s clothing, toys and miscellaneous pieces is to find a charity in your local area that provides items to shelters that look after parents and children who are escaping domestic violence situations.
Sadly, there are many, but your unwanted goods might go towards brightening the day of a child (sparking joy?) in a bad scenario, which is better than sitting on a shelf of a second hand store for weeks.