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If you are into zero waste or minimalism, you might wonder what the things to get rid of are and how to do it sustainably.
I created a minimalist list of things to get rid of, with 68 ideas to help you start.
Before we begin, remember that this is more of a general list. There are no strict rules, and some things probably won’t apply to you.
If you have a legitimate reason for keeping any of the items below, keep it! Everyone is different, and what’s useless to one person could be essential to another.
In the end, you can find additional ideas on how (and where) to get rid of things sustainably and a couple of crucial tips.
Ok, now, let’s begin!
Things To Get Rid Of: Kitchen
1. Expired food
It sounds pretty obvious, but I bet (most of) you have at least one thing in your pantry/fridge that’s either expired or just about to.
Go through your kitchen, and find all the (almost) expired food. Save what you can by using it up, and get rid of the rest.
Tossing unopened cans of expired food items isn’t a good idea into the bin. It can mess up and cause issues in the recycling process.
The most eco-friendly way to dispose of expired food is through composting it. Pour the contents into the compost bin, clean the containers, and put them in the recycling bin.
Never pour fats and oils into your sink.
Cool tip: You can easily upcycle it and use leftover fat to make a fat bird feeder.
Mix the fat with some dry oats, and leave it to set in the fridge overnight. Once it’s hard, you can hang it from a tree or place it in a birdfeeder.
2. Food that you won’t eat
Consider donating food to local charities if your cupboards contain food you will not eat. Or give it to friends or your family.
3. Unused kitchen gadgets/appliances
Donate them to a local charity. Alternatively, if they are broken, take them to your local Household Waste Recycling Centre.
4. Too many mugs or plates
Do you need multiple full and packed shelves with many different plates, mugs, glasses, etc.?
Even if you have a family, the chances are that you don’t use every single one of the kitchen stuff you have.
So, consider giving away some. You can either give for free to friends or charity shops or try to sell some fancy ones in good condition.
5. Cookbooks you never read
Pass along as a gift to someone who will enjoy it more, or donate.
6. Old pots or pans
You can donate usable pots and pans to Goodwill, Salvation Army, or Freecycle.
If the cookware is unusable, find a scrap metal facility that accepts and recycles pots and pans.
7. Knives, spoons, forks
You need just a couple of them, definitely not an entire drawer filled with knives that are all dull and useless.
Even when you invite people, when do you truly need more than 10 knives or spoons at the same time?
Donate them to your local thrift store to get rid of extra utensils.
8. (Too many) glass jars
This is a big problem for me 😀 I always think I need more jars that I’ve accumulated from foods packaged in jars.
Keep a couple (especially if you tend to shop in bulk, use bigger ones for meal prep), and recycle the rest.
9. Old plastic containers
You can upcycle old plastic containers creatively, donate to local charities, or throw them in your recycling bin.
10. Paper towels
Use reusable cloth towels instead. You can DIY them by cutting an old t-shirt into squares.
Things To Get Rid Of: Living room
11. Extra throw pillows
Too many throw pillows are another thing that creates visual clutter, which isn’t essential. Consider donating them to local charity shops or animal shelters.
12. Appliance manuals
It’s a good idea to keep them only if you plan to sell the appliance. Otherwise, you don’t need it – you can find anything you need to know online.
13. Unnecessary furniture
I’m talking about the one that nobody uses, it is in the corner and collects a lot of dust.
Unnecessary furniture can clutter your home, so consider donating it or selling it.
Souvenirs and mementos can clutter your living room. This can apply to any other household decorations you don’t like or use.
Pick a few of your favorite ones and donate or give away the rest.
Things To Get Rid Of: Bathroom
15. Expired skincare products
Depending on the skincare product, you can reuse it. For example, you can wash dishes or other stuff with expired shampoo.
You can do a quick online search and find various ideas on how to creatively upcycle expired skincare products. Then, you can wash and recycle the packaging.
16. Half-used shampoos
If you have many almost empty products (that you don’t plan to finish), you give them away to friends or transfer them into smaller containers and use them on trips.
You can recycle the packaging with Nordstrom recycling.
17. Makeup you don’t use
If it is gently used, consider donating it to Project Beauty Share or giving it to a friend. You can find a couple more donation ideas for UNUSED makeup at the end of this article.
18. Unused, dried-out nail polish
You can try to save it and then give it away. To revive dry and thick nail polish, immerse the bottle in a bowl filled with hot water and leave it there for about 3-4 minutes.
Once it cools down, roll the bottle back and forth, and shake. Or what I liked to do before is to add 2-3 drops of pure acetone to thin out the nail polish.
Then, you can use it up or give it away.
19. Stretched-out hair ties
You can repurpose them using stretched-out ties such as food bag ties, money ‘’clips”, or similar applications.
Otherwise, you need to throw them in the trash since once it loses their elasticity, there isn’t much you can do to fix that. ( Or is it? Let me know in the comments below!)
20. Cleaning products
Honestly, you don’t need a dedicated cleaning product to clean windows, toilets, floors, etc.
You can make a simple DIY solution and replace all your cleaning products. It makes everything easier, costs less, and preserves the planet.
A super simple way to do it is: to soak peals from a couple of oranges or lemons in a jar filled with white cleaning vinegar.
Keep it in the dark, cool place for about two weeks (I usually shake it occasionally).
Then, transfer a bit of it to a spray bottle, and dilute it with water. (I add half cleaning mixture and half water)
Things To Get Rid Of: Bedroom
21. Unused bed linens or towels
If they’re in good condition, donate them to a local non-profit. If they are not in that good condition, you can always give them to a pet shelter.
Or cut a couple of them into small squares, and use them for cleaning rags.
22. Flat, uncomfortable pillows
Like the previous, donate to thrift stores or local organizations if they are in acceptable condition.
23. Small useless furniture
Like nightstands. You probably don’t need a nightstand, a lamp on your nightstand, or a second pair for your spouse. You can always give it away or try to sell it.
Things To Get Rid Of: Wardrobe
Generally, the best way to get rid of clothes that you don’t need is to:
- Donate or give away to friends
- Sell online or locally
- Send the clothes to a recycling facility
- Organize a Clothing swap party (and then donate the rest to a local recycler)
For more details ad places to recycle or sell clothes, check my article on how to recycle clothes.
24. Single socks
Unless you don’t want to match them with other single pairs, get rid of them.
25. Ratty-ass old undies or bras
Send your old bras to Brarecycling.com – an organization that recycles, reuses, or repurposes bras.
For undies, you can check Knickey.com and see how to recycle them.
26. Too-tight jeans/pants
You can collect uncomfortable and old jeans, and go to some of these shops, in which they have a recycling bin, where you can leave your unwanted clothes:
27. Itchy sweaters
Get rid of all itchy and uncomfortable clothing items at:
28. Clothing pieces that aren’t your style
Give away, sell, or swap.
29. Clothing that you didn’t wear for 6+ months
Give away, sell, or swap.
30. Clothing that you bought but never wore
Give away, sell, or swap.
31. Worn-out shoes with holes
If you have old unused shoes in OK condition, you can donate them to a local charity. But if they are entirely worn out, you can recycle them with:
32. Tights with holes
33. Clothing hangers
Hangers are hard to recycle due to their odd shape and are commonly made with mixed materials.
If you don’t need them, you can donate them to charity shops or some retailers who recycle them.
You can read more about recycling clothing hangers on Earth911.
Anything that you haven’t used in 6+ months can be purses, belts, etc. Consider giving away or selling such items.
Things To Get Rid Of: Digital
35. Junk mail
Get rid of all the junk mail from your emails.
It can be annoying, mainly if you accumulate a lot of junk mail. However, it’s better to do it as soon as possible and not wait to get even more.
36. Emails you no longer wish to receive
Simply unsubscribe at the bottom of each email. Or, if you use Gmail, mark all the emails you don’t want anymore and click on “spam.”
Then it will ask if you also want to unsubscribe from these emails, and you can click on that button.
If that doesn’t make any sense, please check the screenshot below 😀
37. Clean your PC
Keep your computer clean by deleting old stuff you don’t need, placing things in folders, etc.
38. Unused apps on your phone
There are apps for literally everything. But this can be counterproductive, distractive, and bad for productivity.
Keep your phone apps simple – delete infrequently used apps on your phone and have a few main ones.
Things To Get Rid Of: Personal stuff
39. Expired credit/membership cards
If there is sensitive information, write on the signature area with a dark, sharpie permanent marker.
Also, you can shred the card to ensure all sensitive data is suitably cut up. You can find more about how to recycle cards with Terracycle.
The way receipts are handled depends pretty much on your local recycling program.
Contact them to ask if they recycle receipts and if not – you should throw them in the trash.
Related post: Can you recycle receipts?
41. Old files, paper bills, or statements
Remove all the things you won’t need ever again.
Make sure you cut off or mark sensitive information. Then you can recycle the paper.
42. Old keys
Keys are recyclable; however, not all recycling centers have recycling machines for metals.
This is why it’s best to confirm with your local recycling center before you place your old keys in the metal recycling bin.
43. Old planners or calendars
You can tear off and keep the specific pages you genuinely want. As for the rest, you can:
Put the paper in your recycling bin with paper materials. If there is a wire, put it with other metals.
If the cover is durable and made from polymers and fiber – throw that away, as it (usually) isn’t recyclable.
44. Craft/art supplies that you DON’T use
Check your supplies and see if you have duplicates, such as multiple scissors, rulers, tons of the same pencils, etc.
If you don’t use them regularly, especially if you have duplicates of many things, consider giving them away.
45. Things from your old job/school
If you know you don’t need things from your old job/school, get rid of them by recycling and giving them away.
46. Gifts you don’t use/like
Many people feel bad giving away gifts. But if you don’t use it and like the gift, it’s best to give it to someone that will use it.
Depending on what’s the gift, consider giving it away or selling it.
47. Jewelry you don’t wear
Sell, donate, or give away to friends.
Parfumes are questionable for your health, but if you want one, why not? However, do you need more than one? Probably not.
If you have multiple ones, it’s a good idea to donate the rest or give them away to friends.
Things To Get Rid Of: Random stuff
49. Dead houseplants
You can dispose of the dead plant and soil through composting.
50. Old pens that don’t work anymore
You can recycle old pens with Terracycle. They accept pens, pen caps, highlighters, markers, and mechanical pencils.
Consider purchasing a refillable one in the future.
51. Unused old electronics
Donate to local thrift stores, old folk’s homes, or sell.
52. CDs and DVDs
In this digital era, you can transfer or download anything on your computer. Replace your DVD and CD collections with digital versions of your favorite content.
You can also transfer old videotapes to your computer and have them digitally. After that, you can donate them to your local thrift store.
Check Green Disk to see what they accept and how you can recycle with them.
53. Old books
Old books, or the ones that you’ve already read (and won’t re-read) – donate to libraries, give away to friends, or you can even try to sell some of them.
Maybe you have some sitting around for a particular recipe or article. Tear it out, take a picture, and get rid of the magazine.
You can donate it in libraries, thrift stores, Craigslist, or throw it in your recycling bin for paper.
55. Expired medication
Take your medicine to a drug take-back location. Search for a nearby area here:
56. Old glasses (prescription or not)
If your prescription has changed or you have old glasses that you no longer want or need, donate to The Lions Club.
They run a program that gives eyeglasses to older people who cannot afford to buy their own.
57. Takeout menus
Most restaurants have their takeout menu on their website.
Most people collect menus and barely use them.
If there isn’t a menu online, take a photo of the one you have, and upload pictures to the restaurant’s entry on Google Maps, Yelp, etc.
Then, you can get rid of the physical one you have.
58. Old batteries
Look up your local recycling rules about batteries, and arrange a day for you to take all of them to the community center.
Also, consider buying rechargeable batteries, so you never have old ones lying around again.
If you have unused ones, donate them or give them to friends.
60. Wires and cables
Check how to send unused stuff to Green Disk – they accept cables, cords, chargers, modem cords, etc.
61. Old boxes
If you don’t plan to move out anytime soon, it’s safe to assume that you don’t need them.
Tear them apart and place them in local paper recycling bins.
62. Expired coupons
Through my research on what to do with expired coupons, I found that families in need can still use them.
They are valid for up to six months after their expiration date at overseas military bases (only).
You can read more about that and send expired (and non-expired) coupons to Support Our Troops.
Otherwise, you can throw them (recycle the paper ones).
63. Board games or puzzles you never play with
Give away to friends, local charity shops, or even try to sell. And for the future, consider this.
Instead of buying more games, which you will probably use a couple of times a year (at best), you can borrow games from friends or local libraries.
64. Multiples of items
That can be anything, from spare measuring spoons to multiple white t-shirts.
Consider donating, giving away, or selling such items.
65. Broken items
Find how to sustainably get rid of (almost) anything over Personal Creations.
They’ve created a HUGE list with many ideas, so if you want to fast a particular thing quickly, click “Ctrl & F” and search if they have the items you are looking for.
66. Old video games
Sell, donate, or swap old (video) games you don’t use anymore.
67. Free samples
First, always REFUSE free samples of things you don’t need. For the ones that you already have, give them away to friends or local charities.
68. Single-use items
Get reusables – it is more environmentally friendly, and they’ll save you money in the long run!
Find my huge list of sustainable swaps here.
How To Get Rid Of Things Sustainably:
It can be Local shelters, charity shops, nonprofits, etc. Consider donating new and gently used makeup to women’s shelters, towels and toys for animal shelters, clothes, and even furniture to charity shops.
Junk Hauling is a company that will pick up and hauls away unwanted junk from your home or business.
I haven’t used one, but you can check Earth Wise Hauling – an eco-friendly junk removal company.
You can see if your local pharmacy accepts unneeded or expired medication.
They usually have a bin in which you can leave medications.
You can purchase a “zero waste” box, fill it up and send it back with stuff you don’t want.
Terracycle recycles/breaks down the items and sells the various raw components to other vendors for reuse.
They offer multiple categories (bathroom waste, e-waste) and free programs sponsored by vendors.
Green Disk is a company based in Ohio that accepts and pays you to get your e-waste.
If you don’t live there, try to find a local one.
Find my list with 23 places where you can sell second-hand clothes. Donate to local organizations or thrift stores if that’s too much work.
Find many more donation places in my article here.
An ideal place to list your unwanted item for free. Individuals who are interested will then come and pick up your items.
Things are usually gone within a day. If Freecycle isn’t available for you, try to find similar local online options.
Sell, donate, or exchange things locally using a local Facebook marketplace or groups.
Return things to the company you bought stuff from:
Many more sustainably conscious companies now accept their items back at the end of life.
You can usually find out if they offer this by quickly searching the company’s website.
Nordstrom accepts old beauty packaging for recycling at its stores.
Glam Bot or Beauty Bus:
Companies that buy unused, non-expired self-care products.
The initiative distributes unopened, new beauty and personal care products to homeless shelters, domestic violence shelters, and foster care agencies.
“Lightly used” skincare, cosmetics, hair care, and hygiene products are distributed to disadvantaged women across the country.
This organization will help you find a charity near you that will accept your mattress donation.
They can currently arrange assistance pick up in 30 cities across the United States.
This organization donates furniture items from individuals and businesses to families who are struggling financially.
Check their website to find your nearest location.
Do this when you are unsure you want to get rid of certain things.
Take a box or a bag, and place all the stuff you are unsure about.
Keep it somewhere out of your sign for a month or two.
If you miss and need an item from there, you can still retrieve it.
Then, you can donate or sell all the items you didn’t need or miss.
What do to when you are not sure?
I can recommend you ask some of these questions:
- Do I need this?
- Do I actually use this?
- Does this make me happy?
- Can someone else benefit from this more than I currently am?
If you don’t genuinely like, need, or use an item, it is best to get rid of it.
Focus on KEEPING and not on discarding:
It’s easier to choose what to keep than to get rid of. Think about what you want to keep and what is necessary for your life.
The best way to get rid of stuff you don’t need is to start with one room and do them one by one.
When you focus on only one “category/group,” you won’t feel overwhelmed.
You can continue with the category or next room once you finish the current one.
Give yourself a deadline:
Consider giving yourself a deadline for each category/room. In that way, you will feel more motivated to keep going.
You can give yourself as much time as you need – 2-3 days per room, a week, or even longer.
Always remember to focus on your own journey:
After all, minimalism is not just about owning the least amount of stuff. If something has meaning for you, keep it.
Maybe a day will come when you can give up certain things; if not, it’s still ok. There’s nothing wrong with owning a few nostalgic things.
There you have it – plenty of ideas can motivate you to start decluttering and getting rid of stuff you don’t genuinely need.
But that doesn’t mean you need to stop here! Perhaps, you own other things, and you can get rid of them but aren’t on the list.
Feel free to leave a comment below and let me know what other things you decided to let go of!
Lastly, remember that there is no virtue in getting rid of things just for the sake of getting rid of things. Moderation is key. Don’t forget that 🙂