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Decluttering. Is it just making our junk someone else’s problem?

decluttering someone else's junk

Last year MarieKondo told us to ditch anything that didn’t “Spark Joy”. The world embraced the KonMarie Method and Op/Charity Shops found themselves swamped by stuff. Many charities said their shops had reported a doubling in donations. Is decluttering really us making our unwanted junk someone else’s problem asks Rachel Smith.

Rampant mindless and unconscious consumerism is becoming a massive issue in wealthy nations around the world. In Australia, as an example, 25% of all food is thrown in the bin, we buy a new phone every 25 months, the majority of fashion purchases are only worn 7 times and 6,000kg of clothing and textiles are sent to landfill every 10 minutes. 30% of Australians admit to discarding more than 10 items of clothes in the last 12 months and the same number admit to having thrown out clothes that have been worn only once. We live in a world of buying more than we need.

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Charity shops are not an alternative to the bin

Charities are being forced to shell out hundreds of thousands of dollars each and every year to send damaged or dirty donated items to landfill. It’s expensive. Charities are paying $13 million a year to send unusable and unsaleable donated goods to landfill. 

Charity shops are flush with donated used underwear, broken bra’s and stained furniture that they can’t resell

Charities around the world are urging customers to be aware that not everything can be resold. Items that are broken or in poor condition are either sent on to be recycled or go to landfill. However this cost ends up falling on charities – and that’s money that could otherwise be spent on “life-saving research” or to help more people.

What’s the alternative?

Instead I reckon we should sell, swap, share, reuse or upcycle the things we no longer want (Underspent Step 5. I got into swapping, sharing and selling) 

A few years ago I found two wicker chairs on kerbside collection. I took them home, washed them and painted them white. They still looked a bit shabby and didn’t really “go with” the existing wooden garden/balcony furniture. They’ve sat unused in the garage for a while.

I’ll be honest, 5 years ago I probably would have dumped them on the local charity shop. But why should my local charity shop volunteers sort out, repair and sell the junk I no longer want?

So yesterday I spray painted the chairs metallic gold. An hour of my time, $8 of paint and two new pieces of outdoor furniture I absolutely love. And when I’m sick of gold I’ll just spray paint them a new and different colour! 

What do you think?

Will you think twice before making you start your decluttering and unwanted junk someone else’s problem?

About the author

Rachel Smith

Rachel Smith is the Author of Underspent. She didn’t buy anything new or 2nd hand in 2014 and saved 38% of her salary. She broke her bad habit of impulse shopping, ‘buying just for the sake of buying’ and buying things she didn’t really need. Her Underspent book has helped thousands of women (and men) to change their shopping, spending and saving habits.

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