4 sustainable ways to get rid of unwanted stuff

It’s illegal to put items out on the footpath without booking a collection. You can stop them going to landfill.

Over 30% of Sydneysiders think putting items on the street is good for the environment, believing they’ll be picked up and reused by someone else.

This well-meaning behaviour is actually illegal and carries fines of up to $7,500. When you put items out, they generally sit on the street for days, become damaged by the elements and end up going to landfill. It ruins the streetscape, poses a safety risk and encourages others to dump items there as well.

Here’s how to give items a second chance, save them from landfill and even make some money.

Fix it

Before you decide an item needs to be thrown out, consider whether a repair or tweak could give it a second life.

Repairing extends the life of items you love, reduces the need to buy more stuff and helps use the resources we have.

Consider if there's something about the item you could change or fix to make you love it more. Painting an item can bring some colour to the space. Image: Getty Images

Fixing an item doesn’t mean you have to keep it, although you may choose to at the end. Repairing an item will help you sell it for extra cash, re-home or donate it.

As a first step, check the product warranty to see if it covers repairs. Some products come with repair services or a lifetime warranty.

If you have the time, you might like to try fixing an item yourself. Google is your friend here. You’ll find plenty of how-to guides and videos on the internet, like those on iFixIt, YouTube and The Social Outfit. If you need tools to help you get started, borrow from a friend or a tool library if you can.

If you don’t have the time or interest in a DIY project, take items to someone who can fix it instead. Repairing items can often be a fraction of the cost of buying new. Find a local tailor, shoe cobbler, phone repairer or furniture upholstery shop. Support local repair organisations such as the The Bower Reuse and Repair Centre, Cycle Re-cycle Club and Sew Make Create.

Sell it or post in online free

If you no longer need the item, you can make some extra money by selling it online. List your item as free and it’s likely to get snatched up quickly. You’ll be surprised by what people take.

Try online marketplaces, like Facebook Marketplace, Gumtree, eBay or Depop. Search Facebook for Buy, Swap, Sell groups in your area. Freecycle is great for giving things away.

If you’ve ever put an item on the street with the hopes it will be taken by someone who wants it, post it online free instead.

Here’s what not to do. Don’t put items on the street, even if they’re free to a good home. Image: Getty Images.

While it’s true that one person’s trash is another’s treasure, you’ll have better luck connecting with people who want your items online.

Check out our tips to sell your stuff online fast.

Pass it on

If you don’t want to post or sell your item online, you can re-home or donate it.
Ask your friends or family if they would like it. Or donate to a charity or reuse centre, such as your local OpShop, Salvos Stores, Reverse Garbage, Bower Reuse and Repair Centre or Pyrmont Cares.

Only donate items in great, preloved condition that you would proudly give to a loved one. Check if the charity wants your donation first and don’t leave items outside the shop. Donating items that are broken or in need of repair puts pressure and costs back on charities.

Recycle responsibly as a last resort

If you can’t re-home or resell your item, look for ways to recycle it. Check to see what we accept at our quarterly Recycle It Saturday events, where you can drop off items for recycling. Or have accepted items collected from your doorstep when you book a Power Pickup with RecycleSmart.

You can book in a free weekly pick-up for your larger bulky items, but remember it’s illegal to put items on the street without a booking.

When you book a pick-up it’s important to know that while metals, whitegoods, electronics and mattresses are recycled, most of the furniture and other household items cannot be recycled and are sent to landfill.

Even with a booked collection, furniture in good condition, like this office chair, can’t be recycled and generally goes to landfill. Try and find your items a new home first. Photo by Katherine Griffiths

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