I reached out with my left hand, grasping the cold door handle. Slowly and carefully, I turned the handle and pulled, just enough for the door to pop as it separated from the doorframe. With my other hand, I reached out, ready for whatever was about to come spewing out of the overstuffed hallway closet.
If this is a scenario you too have experienced, then keep reading. We’re going to take a look at 10 items you probably have in your closets that could be reused, donated or recycled.
There are numerous articles here on Earth911 that address every aspect of clothing recycling, so I’ll quickly cover the basics. When you decide it’s time to part with some of your clothing, there are really three options: sell, donate or recycle.
There are so many ways to sell your used clothing, it’s actually quite astounding. There are garage sales, Facebook groups, consignment stores, Craigslist, eBay, and numerous apps like OfferUp and Letgo. All of these provide convenient ways to make some money off of your used clothing.
Donating your used clothing is also a fantastic option. There are many charities that give clothing to those in need. You can use the Earth911 Recycling Search to find a donation site like Goodwill in your area. There are also many charity drop-off bins listed in the directory.
The last option is to recycle. While reuse is always preferred, the day will eventually come when your clothing will need to be recycled. There are a few retailers, like H&M, that will collect your clothing for recycling. Like donation, you can search the Earth911 Recycling Search to find a location in your area.
I’m a big believer in buying high-quality shoes. Low-quality shoes don’t last long and tend to fall apart, making it impossible to repair or donate. High-quality shoes have a long life, and if you decide you don’t want them anymore, they can be donated and given an even longer life with someone else.
Shoes can also be repaired, if you decide that’s a better option for you than buying new ones. If you’d rather donate them, you can drop them off at your local nonprofit thrift store or one of several charities. Soles4Souls is one of my favorites and one that Earth911 has worked with several times.
If you have high-quality jewelry you no longer want, the best thing to do is resell it to a local jewelry store. They will either then sell it as a used piece or have it melted down and turned into something new.
When it comes to costume jewelry, however, things get a bit more tricky. Recycling isn’t really an option for many pieces because you don’t know what materials were used. So, the best thing to do is give it away or resell it.
All of the resale and donation options mentioned in the clothing section apply here as well. If you have a lot of jewelry to get rid of, consider selling it in a batch rather than one piece at a time.
After cleaning out your closet of clothing, you may find yourself with a lot of unused hangers. If you’re a crafty person, there are several fun ways to repurpose hangers. If you’d rather just get rid of them, try asking your friends if they need extra hangers. Seriously. Hangers are one of those things you either have too many of or not enough. You’ve probably got a friend who needs some.
5. Craft Supplies
If you have an overabundance of craft supplies taking up space in your closet, you have options. First and foremost, look for someone else who could use them. Schools are a good place to start. Call up your local preschools and see if they have a need for more craft supplies.
Next, look at local community centers or senior living centers. If none of those are an option for you, consider posting pictures of what you have on social media and asking people if they need anything you have.
6. Sheets and Bedding
While the idea of giving away used sheets may cause some people to cringe, there are potential homes for your bedding. Many animal shelters will accept used sheets and other bedding to help pets stay comfy and cozy in the shelter. But don’t forget that sheets have great reuse potential: from picnic blankets to packing material to protecting plants from frost.
If that doesn’t work, recycling is your next stop. Just search for a local textile recycling drop-off location. If you find your closet overflowing with blankets, consider donating them to your local homeless shelter.
If you end up with more suitcases than you really need, you could of course sell or donate them. You could also convert one into clothing storage. This is something I’ve done for a while, storing my winter clothing in an extra suitcase during summertime and swapping out the clothing when the season changes.
For damaged suitcases, recycling is a bit tricky. Suitcases require a substantial amount of labor to disassemble, and there aren’t many locations that take them. TerraCycle has set up a recycling system for used luggage, but fair warning that it isn’t cheap.
8. Wrapping Paper
After unwrapping birthday or holiday gifts, you’ve probably tossed your wrapping paper in the recycling bin without a second thought. Unfortunately, wrapping paper isn’t always accepted in curbside bins.
Cities vary widely on if they accept wrapping paper in the recycling bin, and what kind of wrapping paper they accept. It’s worth giving your city recycling center a call and asking them if they take it and if they have any restrictions.
Belts are perhaps the hardest of all accessories to recycle. For that reason, I highly recommend looking at repurposing options. Jump on over to Pinterest and check out some of the great upcycling belt projects they have. If upcycling/DIYing isn’t your thing, then consider taking the belt buckle off and dropping it off at your local scrap metal yard.
Fortunately, umbrellas are a little easier to recycle than belts. If you’ve got an umbrella that’s no longer capable of keeping you dry, consider taking it apart. Separate the metal from the rest of the umbrella, then take that portion to your local scrap yard. As for the plastic waterproof top, check out this video that shows how to turn it into a purse or pouch.
Feature image courtesy of Shutterstock