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17 Super Clever Ways for Getting Rid of Junk

Think beyond the trash can.

When it comes to decluttering, the easiest solution is simply tossing everything in the "no" pile into the trash and calling it a day. But some things should never be thrown in the garbage and other things are better off being reused. Want to know the best way to get rid of your trash, which could certainly be another person's treasure? These donating, recycling, or upcycling methods will help you get rid of your junk instead of throwing it all away for good.

Host a free yard sale.

yard sale sign outside, getting rid of junk

The quickest and easiest way to get rid of anything you don't want? Place your items outside with a "free" sign. Even if everything isn't scooped up immediately, it's a good starting place for your decluttering efforts. Plus, your belongings will hopefully go to someone who needs them more than you do—or at the very least, a happy home where they'll find another life.

Recycle your electronics at big-name stores.

old electronics toss these things from your house for instant happiness

Many electronics should never go in the garbage as they might contain toxic chemicals like mercury, lead, and chromium. But getting rid of old, unwanted phones and laptops is easy: just use an electronics recycling service, like the one at Staples. No matter the brand, condition, or where you purchased them from, Staples will take care of recycling your electronics for free!

Turn excess wood into mulch.

wood into mulch, getting rid of junk

When a home improvement project is complete, you might find yourself with some leftover wood. If you aren't using it for another construction job, consider using it in your yard. All you need is a small wood chipper—which you can rent at most hardware stores—to transform wood into mulch, which adds nutrients to your soil and makes your yard look livelier.

Dry out old paint.

latex paint cans, getting rid of junk

If you weren't already aware, you can't just toss most paint in any 'ole garbage can. Cans of latex-based paint have to be disposed of at special drop-off sites. However, if you have a bunch of nearly empty latex paint cans lying around and don't feel like hauling them to a recycling center, you can simply dry the paint out.

According to The Family Handman, "Spread a sheet of plastic—painter's plastic is cheap and readily available at home centers and hardware stores—in an out-of-the-way spot and dump a thin layer of paint on it to dry. When the liquid has evaporated, bundle it up and throw it in the trash."

Sell your unwanted clothing online.

selling clothes online, getting rid of junk

There's no reason for old clothing to just pile up and take up space inside your closet. Nowadays, there are many apps and websites—including Poshmark, ThreadUp, and Depop—that make it easy to sell all your unwanted clothes, especially ones that consignment stores might not take. Most of these sites allow you to post photos of the clothes you'd like to sell, and once you make a sale, they'll provide you with a pre-paid, pre-addressed shipping label for your package, making the transaction process easy as pie.

Or transform ratty clothes into cleaning supplies.

cutting old clothes up into rags, getting rid of junk

While you may want to donate or sell your old clothes, some of them may be too damaged or worn-out to do so. If that's the case, try transforming them into cleaning supplies. Old clothes can be cut up into smaller pieces and used as rags, saving you a pretty penny on wash cloths and paper towels, and providing a more eco-friendly alternative.

Use ladders as wall storage.

diy ladder bookshelf, getting rid of old junk

It can be tricky to figure out how to get rid of an old ladder you no longer need. After all, there's no way you're fitting that in your average garbage bag. So, instead of tossing it, consider upcycling it. An old ladder can easily be hung on a wall to provide extra storage. If you're a book lover, you can use the ladder as a makeshift bookshelf.

Give worn-out towels to a local animal shelter.

old worn out towels, getting rid of junk

While many charities will accept old towels, they typically have to be up to a certain standard if they're going to be given to people. If you're stuck with a bunch of old, worn-out towels that aren't necessarily in good enough condition to donate, give them to an animal shelter instead. They're often in need of towels and blankets to use in kennels.

Save your old mascara wands to help wildlife.

old mascara wand, getting rid of junk

Take a second before tossing your makeup tools. Because the bristles are close together, old mascara wands are perfect for removing bugs from the fur and feathers of wild animals. Wands for Wildlife, a mission created by North Carolina nonprofit Appalachian Wildlife Refuge, accepts old mascara wands to use for the care and treatment of injured or orphaned wildlife. They accept donations in October and February annually.

Donate books to local teachers.

stack of damaged books

Many public school teachers use their own money to stock their classrooms with the necessary supplies for a sufficient learning experience. Especially for elementary school teachers, this includes buying books for a classroom library where students can practice and perfect their reading skills. So if you want to clear out some books from your kids' or grandkids' collections, consider donating them to a local teacher.

Give your extra vases to a hospital.

flower vase on a plain white table, getting rid of junk

If you're looking to get rid of some old vases, head to your local hospital. Many people send floral bouquets to patients, but those arrangements need vases to last through a hospital stay. There are even programs, like Random Acts of Flowers, that need vases so they can send flowers to patients, which is another alternative if you don't have a local hospital you can donate to.

Drop off old athletic shoes at a Nike store.

old running shoes, getting rid of junk

When your athletic shoes become worn-out, you probably consider them unusable to other people, too. Even if you can't donate them, what you can do is drop off your old sneakers—from any brand—at a Nike store. Nike has a Reuse-A-Shoe program where they will shred old sneakers and turn them into something new, including community basketball courts, play-top surfaces, and running tracks.

Donate pens and pencils to a good cause.

gel pens coolest school accessory every year

Looking for somewhere to bring all your old pens and pencils? Donate them to Right-to-Write, a program designed to send new and used pens and pencils to children in developing countries. Their mission is to "embrace the notion that a simple deed, such as recycling or gifting a pen or pencil, a tool to use for education, hast the potential to change a child's life."

Compost unusable food and dead plants.

composting eco-friendly tips

There's no reason to waste food these days, even if it's spoiled. And that goes for dead plants, too. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, nearly 30 percent of what we throw away is food scraps and yard waste, all of which can be composted. Composting spoiled food, dead plants, and food scraps instead of trashing them will help the global overfilled landfill crisis and reduce the amount of methane released from landfills.

Digitize your junk drawer.

piles of paperwork, getting rid of junk

Many people have a "junk" drawer in their kitchen filled to the brim with take-out menus, receipts, and bills. If you're looking to clean up your paperwork, but not necessarily wanting to part with what's on these papers, simply digitize them instead. Sign up to receive your bills online, turn your receipts into data with apps like Shoeboxed, and find your favorite restaurants' websites and bookmark them for easy reference!

Take your plastic bags to the grocery store.

Plastic bags things to throw away

If you have a bunch of plastic bags lying around that you no longer need, take them to your local grocery store. As the push for reusable bags becomes more mainstream, many grocery stores have started placing drop boxes at their store's entrance to collect used plastic bags. And, if you're not sure where to take yours, you can check for nearby recyclers through Plastic Film Recycling's online directory.

Give one item away each day.

Box of Old Clothes for Donation {Free Acts of Kindness}

If you're still struggling with decluttering, Joshua Becker, founder of Becoming Minimalist, says you should commit to getting rid of at least one item every day. This creative process makes getting rid of junk easier over time.

"This would remove 365 items every single year from your home," Becker explains. "If you increased this to two per day, you would have given away 730 items you no longer needed. Increase this number once it gets too easy." And for more ways to clear the clutter, check out the 33 Ways to Declutter Your Life (and Keep It That Way!)

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Kali Coleman
Kali Coleman is a Senior Editor at Best Life. Her primary focus is covering news, where she often keeps readers informed on the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and up-to-date on the latest retail closures. Read more
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