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Decluttering with a Conscience - How to Declutter Your Home

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by Megan Edwards (subscribe)
I count myself lucky to be born in Australia's coffee capital of Melbourne and love to write about what's on in my home town.
Published August 12th 2012
Don't just give your home a spring clean - give back to the community.

We've all heard the adage, 'One man's trash is another man's treasure' and undoubtedly it is true. However, when clutter gets the better of us (and it usually does), we tend to have tunnel vision, sending most of our unwanted stuff into landfill, and perhaps an odd bag or two to the local op shop.

However there are an enormous number of things that can be reused or, to coin a fashionably green phrase, 'repurposed' - that is, used in a manner that differs from its original purpose.

Animal shelters often need shredded paper and blankets/towels

Shredded paper
Many offices, both commercial and home based, use a paper shredder to destroy confidential documents, but did you know that there is another way to reuse this waste, other than simply putting it out for recycling along with other paper and cardboard? Pet shops and animal shelters like the RSPCA frequently run short of clean shredded paper for use in pens and enclosures and welcome donations, big or small.

In addition, animal shelters often need donations of old, clean blankets and towels that can be used for bedding.

Donate magazines to schools, community & health organisations

Another item which frequently ends up in the recycle or rubbish bin - but did you know that your local kinder, primary school, hospital or community centre would probably love to have them for use in the waiting room or for art and craft projects?

Kindergartens will also welcome donations of clean empty food cartons (eg. cereal boxes) for craft, plus plastic containers (like Tupperware) and other lightweight cooking items that can be used for a play kitchen.

Donate your preloved sports equipment

Sporting Gear
Are last season's footy boots or cricket pads still rattling around in your wardrobe? Why not donate them to a less privileged sporting team, who may be struggling to afford the proper gear?

Backed by high profile sporting names like the Essendon Football Club, Boots for All is a charitable organisation based in Melbourne which accepts donations of second hand sports shoes and equipment and passes them on to adults and children in need. Donations can be dropped into purpose built collection bins located at a number of suburban sports grounds and clubs,or you can simply give them a call.

If all else fails...
and you still have things needing a home, but don't know where to send them, check out the GIVIT list, in which local and national not-for-profit groups post their donation requests.
Check the GIVIT list for donation ideas

For bigger items that may not be easy to transport, such as furniture, give a charitable organisation like the Salvos or Vinnies a call - most are only too happy to arrange pick up of large serviceable household items.

So as you can see, there are many easy ways to be charitable, without breaking a sweat. Even die-hard horders (such as myself!) can see the benefit of decluttering when viewed from this perspective!

Know a great way to reuse or repurpose an everyday item? We'd love to you to tell us about it in the comments section below.
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Why? Don't just give your home a spring clean - give back to the community.
Where: At home
Your Comment
Lions clubs are great recyclers. We recycle corks or cork products with all funds going to providing cryonic storage chambers for Cord Blood.
Aluminium and aluminium ring pulls are recycled with all funds going to the Lions clubs funded research into chronic spinal cord injury using the patient's own stem cells. Lions Australia Spinal Cord Fellowship.
Used postage stamps - funds go to the Australian Lions Children's Mobility Foundation - providing mobility aids for children.
Clothing and household goods are sold through our Opportunity shops, funding our projects.
by oakhe (score: 1|22) 3125 days ago
I'm glad you mentioned the shelters wanting newspapers, and towels. Vets can also use newspapers too!
by fifi. (score: 1|12) 3125 days ago
I have such a stream- lined life it frightens my friends .I read Clutters Last Stand about 30 years ago and was converted. We recycle 95% of everything, but thanks for these new tips. My weakness is keeping much loved but raggy cotton garments , as they are so hard to replace. Viviennne
by vivie (score: 0|2) 3121 days ago
Another great option is the Freecycle Network. It's a non-profit, volunteer run movement where people give and get from people in their own local area. You just join an email group and whenever you have something you want to move on you post an email and someone will come and pick it up. To find your local group go
by linda (score: 1|12) 3119 days ago
Any ideas for recycling in some way overly worn or slightly damaged clothing (rather than throwing it out)? Op shops don't resell things that aren't in really good condition, and often overseas relief organisations also don't want less than near perfect clothing.
by romica (score: 1|88) 3118 days ago
Unwanted furniture can be rejuvenated with a sand and paint/ varnish. Even old plant stands can be fixed up with a bit of love and used as side tables. Buying used items on ebay is a way of saving the planet.
by dalys (score: 0|9) 3118 days ago
Megan the RSPCA has op shops as well
by barry (score: 0|6) 3118 days ago
I have a leather lounge suite, dining tables, single mattresses, double beds etc etc but can't find a charity who wants them. Is this why we see so much stuff getting dumped and ruined on the nature strip and taken to landfill?
by Jilli (score: 0|2) 1331 days ago
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