Alternative ways to get rid of unwanted items

Quote in 2 Mins
Retrieve a quote »

When you want to get rid of your old, used belongings or household items, chucking them in the bin isn't the only option. We look at some environmentally friendly alternatives that can help you to get rid of your unwanted possessions.

Swapping is a fun and profitable alternative to throwing out your clothes.

In 2008-2009, Australia produced over 14 million tonnes of municipal solid waste, with an estimated 642kg of waste generated per personi. On a household level, recycling rates have increased, with 99% of households claiming that they had recycled or reused at least part of their waste in March 2009ii.

If you need to get rid of your unused or unwanted belongings and household items, consider options that will reduce your impact on the environment. We look at several alternatives to waste disposal that can be environmentally sustainable, fun and even profitable!


Selling your unwanted household goods like old fridges, TVs, and furniture, is a great way to put your waste into good use (and you might even make a profit from it!). You can sell online using 'online marketplaces' such as eBay or Gumtree, or in person at pawnshops. If you're feeling particularly charitable or just want to get rid of your stuff ASAP, then you might want to consider using other 'online marketplaces' such as Yours2Take, Ziilch, or Reusemoose. These websites let you offer your own possessions or claim other people's unwanted possessions for free!


Making a quick dollar by selling your unwanted possessions isn't the only way you can gain from getting rid of them. Swapping is another fun and profitable alternative to throwing out your old things. So long as they are clean and in good enough condition to be reused, they can be exchanged for items you actually want (and it can even be a fun swapping experience!). You can attend a clothes swap day organised in your local community or a nationwide event such as National Swap Day organised by the Clothing Exchange, which usually partners with a range of Australian charities from the Australian Red Cross to Oxfam. Events such as these are a way to give back to the community and go on a shopping spree without spending any money! If clothes aren't the only thing you have lying around, try Swap Exchange, an online facility that allows you to trade a good or service for something else. For example, you could offer your fridge in exchange for some swimming lessons!


They say that one man's trash is another man's treasure, and donating your unwanted goods is another great way to get rid of your unwanted possessions while giving back to the community. There are many clothing banks, charity stores or 'op shops' that are willing to accept your unwanted goods, so long as they are in a sellable or reusable condition. Some to look out for include those affiliated with the Salvation Army, St. Vincent de Paul, and the Australian Red Cross.

These charity shops provide donated clothes and household items at reasonable prices so that those on low incomes, bargain hunters, or people looking for something pre-loved and unique can take advantage. These shops also use the profits from the sale of your unwanted items to raise funds for charitable causesii.

Putting your clothes in a charity bin is a great way to give back to the community.


Households can recycle their plastics, aluminium and paper alongside other non-recyclable landfill waste (including food) by placing them in their respective garbage bins, which are collected by local council garbage services.

There are some things that can be recycled which your local council may not collect. Construction material including metal and timber, and electronics fall into this category. Sims Metal Management can take metals, tyres, plastic, batteries and electronics off your hands, while Soft Landing can take care of your mattress disposal. TechCollect, Ewaste and various schemes by local and state governments can help you dispose of e-waste (computers, computer products) and televisions responsibly. If you need more information on what you can and cannot recycle and where you'll be able to drop-off your goods, visit the Planet Ark website.

Upcycling: what is it?

Your old dysfunctional fridge might very well be just that, but did you know it could also be a storage space for video games and consoles? Or that your old ladders and suitcases could be made into cool storage spaces? Get creative with your household junk by upcycling! Upcycling is recycling of a different kind; it entails reusing materials or objects so as to create a product of higher quality or value than the originaliii. There are many websites where you can get inspired or find ideas for your own creations.

These alternative methods of disposal can be fun, rewarding and profitable for you and the environment! So next time you need to get rid of something, don't look to the footpath, nature strip or back lane, choose a more environmentally sustainable approach - it'll be worth your while!

i Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities, 2011, Waste and Recycling in Australia 2011, p. 45,

ii Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2010, 1301.0 Year Book Australia, 2009-10: Waste Generation and Disposal,

iii St Vincent de Paul Society, Vinnies Retail Centres,

iv "upcycle". Oxford Dictionaries. 2010. Oxford University Press,
(accessed May 15, 2013).