5 Ways To Recycle Your Old Stuff Instead of Throwing It Out

Decluttering for the new year? Here's how to get rid of stuff, without filling the landfill

By Rebecca Jaciuk, publisher of Macaroni KID Downriver, Mich. January 6, 2023

My sister and I decided to rid items from our home every day for 40 days as part of Lent a few years ago. I didn’t want to throw everything in the landfill, so I had to find creative ways to remove things from my house. It made me really think about how to find new purposes for old items and I've made much more of a conscious effort to reduce without waste the past few years.

(I also highly suggest a challenge of getting rid of things for 40 days, it made me feel so much better!)

Here are five ideas on how to recycle:

1. Utilize resale sites

The internet has made it so easy to resell items — just be careful of scams! There are many to choose from, but my favorite is Facebook Marketplace, which I've found a good place to sell practically anything. Baby clothes, furniture, you name it! There are also “buy nothing” groups in many communities where you can give away items, or you can offer something for free on Next Door.

2. Donate to a nonprofit

You can donate many gently-used items to nonprofits that help people. For instance, foster care agencies might be in need of kid clothes or cribs. A home that provides refuge for women escaping abuse might need bottles or gently-used women's clothing. An animal shelter can typically use things like blankets and towels. Goodwill and Salvation Army are always possibilities too! I was able to give away a lot of baby and kid items I no longer needed to a foster agency in my town.  

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3. Sell old textbooks 

Do you have old textbooks sitting around from college collecting dust? I did, and I learned that you can actually sell them back! There are a bunch of sites that buy back old textbooks. I used Go Textbooks, which allowed me to look up the ISBN of the book and know exactly how much money I would be getting.

4. Sell old DVDs or games 

In my town, there are stores that sell used or old DVDs and video games that they purchase on the spot. We were able to sell a box of games we no longer used there and make some cash.

5. Research!

It's amazing the nonprofits and companies out there now that are recycling in amazingly creative ways. TerraCycle™, for instance, develops recycling solutions for waste streams that are not typically curbside recyclable and gets them to manufacturers who turn those items into everything from outdoor furniture and decking to athletic fields. Some communities have TerraCycle drop-off boxes, or you can order a Zero Waste Box sent to your home to fill. 

There are dozens of creative companies out there that are working to find new and innovative ways to recycle. Find one whose mission you love and support them!

Now that I'm recycling more, I'm also considering my purchases more carefully. We're making swaps in our house for more sustainable items, such as choosing reusable water bottles and avoiding single-use plastics. Every little bit helps!

Rebecca Jaciuk is the publisher of Macaroni KID Downriver, Mich.