big pile of old furniture and household goods on the roadside

Out of sight, out of mind? A clear conscience after your Covid clear-out

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Alongside Tik Tok challenges, weekly workouts and trialing new recipes – was a thorough Autumn clear-out part of your lockdown? If so, you might be stuck with a pile of stuff you would like to get rid of. Leave the big black rubbish bags where they are, and take a look at our suggestions on how to make your clear-out contribute to a better post-Covid world instead…

Some of these items can be saved from the landfill – just by knowing where they go. If you’re unsure about where an item could go, start by typing it in to the ‘What to do with your Waste’ search tool. Or read on for other ideas to save items otherwise destined for the landfill.

A stitch in time saves…the environment!

Basic repair techniques, like sewing a hole, fixing a button or gluing broken pieces back together, can prevent a series of items from ending up in landfill. Use YouTube or Pinterest for inspiration and tutorials on alterations. If your watch, shoes, clothing or furniture need a professional touch, search for the repair fairies in your area using the Yellow Pages or checking in with community forums such as the  Zero Waste Wellington Facebook group.


Middle age woman painting and renewing an old shelf at home with white shabby chic color. Do it yourself lifestyle and upcycling. Window light in the background

Can’t stand that old piece of furniture you’ve seen every hour of every day during lockdown? Give it another chance by upcycling or repurposing it.  Trust your creativity or check DIY ideas online to give your dated furniture a more modern look. Sometimes a layer of paint makes all the difference, and the results can be stunning!

Is DIY not your cup of tea? No worries! New Zealand can be proud of its many talented craftspeople. Locate them in your area through an online search or ask for recommendations in the Zero Waste Wellington Facebook group, they can do magic!

Decluttering can help others

The lockdown has been a challenging time. To combine your environmental good deed with a social good deed, you could donate your pre-loved, suitable for re-sale items to charities to help those in need. There are a lot of organisations in Wellington that accept donated items.

Earthlink does an amazing job in the Hutt Valley, giving employment to people in need and a new life to a large array of items, such as electronics, whiteware and sports goods. Common Unity Aotearoa accepts a range of items for their community projects, including garden tools, kitchen equipment, fabric and bicycles. Free For All and Freecycle are online platforms where people can post free items for others to request, to stop them from ending up in a landfill. You can also bring items that are still in usable condition to Trash Palace in Porirua or the Wairarapa Resource Centre in Masterton. Check the conditions for drop-off or pick-up on their website and/or contact them before you go to make sure they can accept and process what you wish to donate.

colourful women's clothes on a clothes rack

If you have a lot of clothes you no longer wear, think about hosting a clothing swap with friends! You’ll get the opportunity to gain new clothing, with the added benefit of seeing your old clothing going to a good home.

Got old curtains that you don’t know what to do with? Donate them to Sustainability Trust’s curtain bank! They take quality, mould-free curtains and resize them for low-income families in the Wellington region. Also keep an eye on their events page and have a look at their specialist recycling programmes for a range of items that can’t be collected in your kerbside recycling, including e-waste, stationery, and oral care items, childrens car seats and bicycles. Children’s car seats are also recycled by Seat Smart across the region.

Decluttering can pay off…

What if your covid clear-out allowed you to make some extra money? Your pre-loved clothes, shoes, books or antiques could be a lucky find for other customers in a consignment store. If you prefer selling online, there are many second-hand and zero-waste pages on social media where you can advertise, sell and swap articles with people in your area, such as Trade Me, Wellington Buy/Sell/Trade on Facebook, and the Depop app.

Back to a NEW normal!

‘One thing in = one thing out’ is often the rule of thumb for specialists in home-organising and decluttering, but don’t use it as an excuse to buy a whole bunch of new stuff after your Covid clear-out! New, sustainable shopping practices should be part of your ‘new normal’ to avoid repeated decluttering operations. Start building a sustainable wardrobe and take a conscious consumer approach for your next purchases.

Here are a few questions you could ask yourself before buying something new. If your answer is no to any of the below, consider not buying the item or make sure you give it plenty of thought before committing.

  • Do I really need this?
  • Is this good quality? Will it last?
  • Is this sustainably and ethically made?
  • Can I repair this if it breaks?
  • Do I love this? Do I want to use or wear it all the time?
    If you only have neutral feelings here, you should keep looking for true love!

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