Everything must go


Photo: Zinneke (Own work), via Wikimedia Commons 

So you’ve decided you don’t need this item in your life any more. Great work!

Now what?

A de-cluttering job isn’t done until every item—whether it’s staying or going—is delivered to its new home. This is often the hardest part of the process.

Here are some options for disposing of stuff you no longer want.

Sell it

The popularity of online auction sites like Trade Me and eBay really does show that one man’s trash is another’s treasure. But selling online can be time-consuming and frustrating. To make sure items sell quickly, clean them up, fix any minor issues if you can, take lots of good photos, and always provide a complete description. Most importantly, set a realistic price. The goal is for the item to leave your house and become useful elsewhere: any money you make is a bonus.

For expensive or specialist items, check whether there is a dedicated website. For example, you can list your wedding dress (only used once, one careful lady owner!) on Still White.

A garage sale can be fun, but it requires a lot of planning, and an early start. No matter how you word your warnings, people will knock on your door hours before your start time. Think about not just how you are going to advertise, present, and price your goods, but also what you are going to do with the ones that don’t sell. Be willing to haggle (that’s half the fun!), drop your prices once interest slows down, and set a definite end time, when you’ll pack up the leftovers and take them to the EcoDrop station or on to the dump.

Give it away

The most “eco” way to dispose of your stuff is to give it to friends or family, as long as they want it and have a use for it. Beware of encouraging the accumulator who will accept anything and everything; all you are doing is transferring your clutter problem to them. Take the item straight to your car if you’re dropping it off, or designate a spot in your house where “to go” items live. Choose somewhere you will see and be reminded every time you leave the house. If the recipient is picking up, set a time limit; if they really want it, they’ll come and get it.

If the item has value, there are lots of options for gifting:

  • Facebook, particularly in a relevant interest group
  • Gifting communities such as Freecycle or Free Stuff
  • Free or $1 reserve listing on an auction or classifieds site
  • Community website like Neighbourly
  • Church or community newsletter
  • Workplace bulletin board

Don’t use charity or recycling organisations as dumping grounds. Disposing of your unusable items costs them money. Never, never leave items next to a clothing bin or outside a charity shop. Your discarded items are your responsibility.

Donate it

Charity shops like Red Cross, St Vincent de Paul, Nurse Maude, and the Salvation Army accept good quality furniture, household items, and clothing. Some will pick up large items. Phone the organisation, or check their website, for details.

Recycle it

The EcoDrop station at your local dump will take a huge range of items for free, including:

  • Used household goods, for resale in the EcoShop
  • Recycling that won’t fit in your yellow bin (great for the huge pile of cardboard boxes your flatpack furniture came in, or that incriminating stash of empties after a party)
  • Hazardous household waste like chemicals, paint, car batteries, motor oil, and gas bottles
  • Old appliances for metal recycling

You can take anything they don’t accept straight through to the dump.

Use the Christchurch City Council website, EcoCentral website, or the Wheelie Bins app to check whether an item can be recycled in your yellow bin.

Here are some less-known options for recycling specific items:

Item Organisation Notes
Craft supplies, stationery, and decorative materials Creative Junk Specialises in redistributing recyclables to schools, artists, and community groups.
Printer ink and toner cartridges Cartridge World Drop cartridges off at one of their shops, or in the bin at an EcoDrop station.
Old cellphones and accessories 2 Degrees, Spark, and Vodafone shops, or Orana Park The Re:Mobile programme recycles mobile phones. Working phones are re-distributed overseas; the rest are broken down to recover precious materials. Make sure you remove your SIM and wipe the phone data, including any memory cards.
Electronics EcoTech Services Also repairs and refurbishes small electronics.
Molten Metal Trust Usable items are sold. The rest is stripped and sorted, or sent for shredding.
Dell Accepts any old Dell equipment, or up to 25kg of any brand computer when you purchase a new Dell.
Brother Accepts old Brother printers or consumables.
HP Accepts old HP printers or consumables.
Clothes, shoes, accessories, and bedding Clothing donation bins throughout the city Read the bin before you put anything in. Some accept only clean items in wearable condition. Others will accept torn or worn out items, or fabric and textiles, that can be recycled into cleaning rags, mattress stuffing, or blankets.
Good quality curtains Curtain Bank Community Energy Action distributes curtains for free to homeowners and tenants in need.
Old towels, blankets, and sheets Animal shelters like the SPCA and DogWatch Also accept pet beds, cages, and toys in good condition.
Used or empty paint containers Resene ColorShops Usable paint is offered to community groups. A small fee applies for non-Resene brands of paint.

Trash it

The last resort is to use your red wheelie bin, or send your unwanted items to the dump. There are different fees for green waste, hard fill, car tyres, and general rubbish, so make sure you separate your waste to minimise the fees you pay.

Don’t put any hazardous waste in your red bin. If in doubt, check the Council website or Wheelie Bin app. Some items can’t go into your bins, but can be dropped off at the dump.

Too hard basket?

If it’s all too much to handle, call in some help. Services like Junk Man and Tip Run will collect your unwanted items from your home, and take care of the work of sorting, delivering, and disposing of everything.