How to Declutter Without Guilt

Four Things You Can Do Right Now

As a professional organizer, I often get asked how to donate certain items that seem impossible to donate ethically. There is a common thread with many folks who want to let go of items they no longer need or use,  but find themselves unable to take action. Why? They feel guilty decluttering for fear that their discards will end up in the landfill. If you are ready to let go of old underwear, make-up, electronics or food scraps, here is your roadmap on how to decluttering without guilt! 

  1. Intimate Apparel

This one is major!! Up until 2018 it was almost impossible to responsibly recycle  intimate apparel Most donation centers and textile recycling centers will not accept used intimate apparel. 

Client’s often throw intimate apparel directly into the trash, aka landfill when they are worn out, however, this no longer needs to be the case! You can send your underwear, socks, tights, shapewear and bras to  Knickey and they will responsibly recycle them. 

Knickey has recycled 1 million intimates since 2018 and received carbon neutral certifications for the last 3 years running. The recycled garments are most often used to make insulation, carpet padding and furniture batting.

2. Make-up

If you find yourself unsure of what to do with empty containers from your make-up bag or bathroom vanity, these resources are invaluable in decreasing guilt while decluttering: 

  • Pact Collective
  • Terracycle
    • Search by brand
  • Nordstrom Beautycycle
    • Empty containers of haircare, skincare, makeup and samples
    • Cannot accept: aerosols, perfume, nail polish, electronics, biomedical or biohazardous waste 
    • Accepted at Nordstrom, Nordstrom Rack

3. Food Scraps

Composting might be one of the best ways to care for Mother Earth. The U.S. alone generates 122 billion pounds of food waste a year. If food waste was its own country, it would be the third-largest emitter of greenhouse gasses in the world, behind China and the U.S. Composting prevents greenhouse emissions, sequesters carbon back into the environment and adds nutrients back into the ground.

Instead of tossing those precious resources into your garbage or disposal, consider connecting with a free composting resource in your area or creating your own compost pile at home. 

Lucky Los Angelinos are now able to toss all compostable items directly into their greens bins.

What CAN be composted?

  • Paper: includes newspapers, non-glossy paper, paper bags
  • Wax-coated paper products
  • Cardboard (tape and staples removed)
  • Paper egg cartons
  • Leaves/yard waste 
  • Sawdust
  • Veggie and fruit scraps
  • Non-plastic tea bags 
  • Egg shells 
  • Coffee grounds
  • Tissues, paper towels, napkins – ideally unbleached
  • Hair (uncolored, unbleached)
  • Nail clippings (without polish)
  • Corks

*Hack – if you don’t have space for a compost bin on your countertop and don’t want to create your own backyard compost pile, consider a bag in your freezer. When the bag is full take it to your local farmer.

4. Electronics 

In a world that pushes us to constantly upgrade our digital devices, it can be challenging to declutter them consciously. E-waste is any electronic product that is unwanted, not working or at the end of their “useful life.” Computers, cell phones, televisions, VCRs, stereos, copiers, fax machines and microwaves are a few examples of electronic products. E-waste is particularly dangerous to the earth because of the toxic chemicals that leach from the metals inside when buried.

Depending on where you live, here are a few ways you can recycle e-waste: (bolded needs to be linked)

  • Calrecycle’s Electronic Recycling Locator – Drop-off locations for computers, laptops and other electronics.
  • Best Buy – Stores will accept most cell phones, electronics, computers, televisions and ink cartridges and will take them at no charge. 
  • Call2Recycle– Recycle drop off locations for rechargeable batteries, single use batteries and cell phones.
  • Digitunity – Connects you with local schools and nonprofits with a need for used electronics. If your item still works, consider donating it to a local organization.

In Los Angeles, we have a website with information on SAFE centers. Our e-waste centers are quite comprehensive and accept many other types of toxic items such as prescription medication, paint, gasoline and aerosols. 

In this post, we demystified how to declutter without guilt by sharing responsible recycling resources for  intimate apparel, make-up, food scraps and electronics. If you are interested in learning more about conscious consuming and how to donate with a lighter footprint, The Clutter Healing®Conscious Consumer Guide. It is a self-study guide for those that desire to live more in harmony with their values while releasing things from their space and life.