We’re now settled into January and filled with all the possibility and excitement of the year ahead! Despite my slight hoarding tendencies, I always like to pack away all the Christmas decorations and jump-start the new year with a cleanse– not in terms of diet, but a cleanse for my home.
If you’re anything like me, you accumulate a lot of stuff over the course of a year. From school uniforms that no longer fit to piles of paperbacks and furniture that we replaced with something new, and every year the piles of stuff that we no longer want or need seems to grow. Whilst it can be very cathartic to throw everything straight into the bin or drive it out to the tip, the idea of so many serviceable goods accumulating in a landfill is quite distressing, so this year I’d like to share my tips for sustainably disposing of your clutter. Who knows, maybe you’ll even walk away with a little cash in your pocket!
For pricier items that you've lost that loving feeling for, it's worth getting them valued and sold through Auctions Houses. There will be percentage fees attached to them handling the sale but I feel it is well worth it. Bonhams and Sotheby’s are the best to go to with valuable items like art, jewellery and collectibles. Both of these auction houses run specialist sales so they'll find the right sale in the country, or possibly even the world, for your piece, thereby putting it in front of the right buyer. However, as these are the top auction houses in the country, they both set minimum valuation which your item has to be worth in order for them to sell it. With Sotheby’s, the minimum valuation is £3000.00 and at Bonhams it's £500.00. If the items you are selling aren’t right for these guys, don't despair– just have a look at your local auction house. In Kent, I suggest Watsons in Heathfield and Gorringes, who conveniently have an office in Tunbridge Wells. Both are worth approaching to see if they can sell your items in a general sale.
Based in London, Kerry Taylor Auctions specialise in vintage fashion and textiles and are a perfect place to sell high end vintage and designer clothes. They will do valuations by appointment and take a standard 15% commission plus 1% insurance fee on the hammer price. This is a great way of allowing yourself to part with your pricier clothes that you no longer wear but are still in excellent condition.
eBay started in 1995 and over the last 20 years has become not just a phenomenon but a verb. It’s a marvellous place that gives anyone the opportunity to resell anything from designer clothes to home goods and electronics. Putting an item up for sale is very easy and I suggest using clean and crisp photos so your item appeals to buyers instantly. Some people find eBay to be a bit of a hassle, so I cut down on the more time-consuming parts, like selling an item for 99p then spending 5 hours in the post office queue, by using the“Buy it Now” section. I list my item for a price I’m happy to part with it for and avoid the bidding altogether. Keep in mind that eBay takes 10% of the selling price when you're deciding how much you'd like to sell your item for.
Freecycle is amazing! Sign up to be a member and place an advert for the items you wish to give away in the same way you would on Gumtree . This advert will be posted on the site and emailed to other members. People who are interested will respond directly to you and will pick up the item from you. Freecycle is perfect for things like Ikea furniture that you no longer need but still has lots of life left in it, or things like old bicycles or armchairs. I've used Freecycle a lot and have found that items are often collected just a few hours after I've posted them online. It's also great to see how happy the recipient is by acquiring something you no longer require.
And of course there's the good old charity shop! The charity Shop has become a stable of the British high street and selling our unloved items is the key to their success. They love our second hand stuff and I love giving it to them! Drop off in normally a stickler for people as car parking near shops is often difficult to find, but where there's a will there's a way! For smaller items I go little and often with things I can easily carry from the car to the shop. Charites shop are now also dealing a lot more with furniture with Hospice in The Weald, The Salvation Army and Sue Ryder, as well as many other charities, having dedicated furniture stores. These charities offer collection services and will come and pick up your bigger items like sideboards or beds. Check their websites for the details of how to arrange this and also what they will take and what they will not. Don’t forget charities can also claim gift aid which means your donation can be worth even more.
After all the selling and donating, you'll be down to the items that sadly can't be sold or given away. Before you throw them in the bin, check to see if they can be recycled. You never know, there could be another life waiting for them as something else!
There are also a lot of creative recycling programmes out there. For instance, 12% of landfill is made up of textile waste and it's frightening how much of this waste is still perfectible usable. To help compensate this, H&M are running a Garment Collection Recycling Initiative. Just take a carry bag of your old clothes to one of their shops and they will reward you with a £5 voucher you can use in H&M for purchases over £30. The items in the bag can be used in three different ways and they break it down like this
- Rewear - Clothes in wearable condition will be resold as second hand clothes (they don’t say by whom)
- Reuse – Old clothes will be turned in to other products like cleaning cloths, and
- Recycle – Textiles are broken down and turned into textile fibers and used as insulation.
I find H&M's initiative perfect for items like old socks and tatty clothes that I can’t see having a life in a charity shop and I love that it gives unwanted textiles a second lease on life. And that £5 always helps, too.
If, when you finish your New Year cleanse, you decide that you'd like to tackle a bigger interior design project such as a kitchen renovation or a face lift for your bedroom, please don't hesitate to get in touch. We're building our 2016 schedule and would love to include you in it!