What to Do with Stuff You Can’t Donate

You might be stuck with goods that you cannot, or should not, donate. Instead of adding them to the landfill, consider upcycling these items for handy uses around the house!

free stuff boxKenTannenbuam/Shutterstock
As everyone grows older, we all seem to share the same talent: accumulating stuff. After some years go by, and the messy basement beckons you to finally eliminate your surplus belongings, you might be stuck with goods that you cannot, or should not, donate. Instead of adding them to the landfill, consider upcycling these items for handy uses around the house!

Clothing

When you’ve finally decided that you can’t fit into (or just don’t want to wear) your old acid-wash jeans, maybe it’s time to think about how you can reuse them. Any clothing that’s well-worn shouldn’t be donated but can be made into your next set of rags to use on all your other DIY projects. Or, if you’re particularly crafty, you can gather some of your favorite pieces and make a quilt or blanket of all the memories. When next you look at that pile of old clothes, keep the mindset that you can create riches out of rags.

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Carpets

If you’re looking at the roll of unused extra carpet from when you replaced that 1960s shag, use your DIY disposition to make the carpet into something excellent and useful. If you cringe every time you see your current carpet, then be sure to first know what you need to do remove it. Then, since that carpet likely has years of build-up nestled into its core, consider cutting up chunks for knee pads to use in the garden. Or, for carpet in clean condition, make a cat tree for your favorite feline.

Old and Chipped Cookware

When your pots and pans become worse for wear, they can start releasing toxins into the food. Instead of tossing them in your trash, consider turning them into a creative dining table centerpiece, an art piece, or a planter. It may take a little bit of work, but with creative vision and determination, you can find a great way to use your unused cookware.

For the pots and pans you want to keep, make this organizer.

Building Materials

If you have some materials left over from past projects, there’s a chance that they’re sitting and collecting dust in your storage room. While some of those dust collectors just need to be recycled, others can be put to good use! Old window blinds? Repurpose those window blinds in one of these 15 ways. Old kitchen cabinets? Give them a face lift for another spot in the house or turn them into a table. Wood scraps? The possibilities are endless – mixing cups, work benches, or maybe even bath mats if you have the right scraps.

See these 80 household items as the useful gadgets that they are.

Old Blankets

There comes a time in every person’s life when their beloved blanket (or “blankie” as it may be in some cases) needs to be replaced. Too loved to be donated, you can find many creative places to use bits and pieces of the comforting throws of yore. With wool material, consider making cozies, hats, or stockings.

No matter how creative you are, there’s going to be a time when you can’t upcycle your non-donatable items. For all things you can’t upcycle, recycle! Chances are high that you can find local recycling centers that will take all of your unwanted stuff, including:

  • Used furniture – you can likely break it down yourself and recycle the parts or find someone who will take it and do that for you.
  • Mattresses – believe it or not, you can usually recycle about 80% of mattress material.
  • Old electronics – Almost all electronics can be recycled if you take them to the right location. And with the rate at which everyone’s required to upgrade these days, recycling is a necessary move to prevent a huge heap in the landfill.
  • Clothing that’s too far gone for rags or quilts – Google your closest textile recycler to get rid of your old wardrobe! Nearly 100% of clothing is recyclable.

Check this list of items you didn’t know you could recycle before deciding to throw something into the trash.

Hazardous items to discard? Be sure you know what they are and what to do with them.

Hannah Louise
I help people tell stories, whether that's about themselves, their company, or their product. Every project I take on has one priority: make sure the audience connects with the content. I've fine-tuned this skill over the past decade by creating content for audiences from C-suites to new hires in organizations large and small. I launched my career as a generational keynote speaker (think dispelling myths about Millennials/Xers/Boomers) and worked my way to being a principal of a consulting firm and published author by writing, presenting, and editing books, blogs, white papers, and research analysis. I bring my values of collaboration, humility, and research-driven strategies to everything I do. I'm also a cat owner, coffee enthusiast, and new home owner (you know, your stereotypical Millennial traits.)