Sustainable Decluttering Before You Move

Sustainable Decluttering Before You Move

Sustainable and Easy Ways to Get Rid of Stuff Before You Move


If you’re moving soon, you’ve probably been staring into your overflowing closets and thinking, “Do I want to move this stuff?” And that’s figuring out how to pack it and where you’ll put it in your new place. And that naturally leads to the most critical question: “Do I even want it?”

If you’ve decided to lighten your load before hitting the road, there are a few simple steps to remember. This guide will help you tackle your clutter and navigate the process sustainably

Step-by-Step Guide to Getting Rid of Stuff Before a Move


The decluttering process can be a daunting task to take on by yourself. While you go through your things and decide what stays and what goes, follow these eight steps to simplify the process. 

Step One: Set Your Goals

Are you trying to downsize your closet from three bins to one? Is your new garage much smaller than your current one? Are you hoping to fit everything into a single moving van?

Knowing your goals will help you declutter with efficiency and confidence. To get started, write down 3 to 5 goals on paper. You can check these off as you go through the process. Your goals might include: 

  • Downsize the garage from 10 bins to 5.
  • Declutter the closets in the hallway and guest bedrooms.
  • Donate or throw away items you haven’t used in over two years.
  • Finish decluttering by the end of the month.

Every goal you check off your list will give you the extra confidence to keep going. 

Step Two: Start with a Plan 

A plan will help you stick to your goals. Before you jump in and try to organize your clutter, consider splitting your items into categories and taking your decluttering process room by room, day by day. 

For example, let’s say you categorize items by room. You can look through your kitchen on Monday, the bathroom on Tuesday, and the garage over the weekend. Slowly but surely, you’ll get closer to your goals — and a cleaner home!

Step Three: Take Inventory of Your Items

Don’t make decisions about what to do with the items just yet. Instead, as you take inventory, ask three simple questions for every item:

  • Is it in good shape, and if not, would I pay someone to fix it?
  • Is it unique and useful? 
  • Do I use/wear/like it now, and will I likely use/wear/like it in a year?

By determining what needs fixing, what is salvageable, and what isn’t, you can decide what you want to keep. You can also sort through items you forgot to return or that belongs to someone else by doing this. Before you recycle or donate unused items, ensure they won’t be missed by anyone else in your home. 

Step Four: Sell, Donate and Recycle

As you go through your home, categorize your items into four groups: Sell, Donate, Recycle, and Keep. 

Make a list of the items that need to be fixed, that you still like and use, and that are useful and unique. Or list things you no longer use and want to get rid of. Either way, you’ll have a starting place to take action.

Once you have your list, you can start deciding what to do with everything on it. Plan a weekend (or two) for this step. Put two boxes, one labeled donate and one labeled sell, and place a recycle bag in each room as you clear it out. Drop items you don’t want to move into the appropriate bin or bag. (For more oversized items like furniture, appliances, playsets, etc., use Post-it notes for the same purpose.)

Before moving clutter into your keep pile, make sure you have a solid reason for keeping it—no excuses! Sticking to your plan is critical for successful sustainable decluttering, which aims to minimize waste by exploring alternative methods for disposing of items. If you stick to these four categories and go through your home methodically, room by room, you’ll be decluttered before you know it. 

Step Five: Look Into Eco-Friendly Storage Solutions

You may wish to keep seasonal items, family heirlooms, and cherished keepsakes. Consider sustainable storage options if you’re downsizing into a condo or apartment. Find a local storage unit that practices environmentally responsible practices, such as using solar panels for power.  Some storage facilities may offer programs to drop off items for electronics recycling.

This step will help you declutter and hold onto those items without adding chaos to your new home. 

Step Six: Host a Garage Sale 

If you find a ton of clutter in good condition, consider hosting an eco-conscious garage sale. A pre-move garage sale not only provides an opportunity to earn some extra cash but also contributes to sustainable practices by finding new homes for items you no longer use.

If you plan on hosting a garage sale, you’ll want to start early. Market your event in your community and neighborhood groups on social networking apps, but don’t wait too long. Host your garage sale or offload your salable items in a week or two to avoid losing your sense of urgency. The worst thing that can happen here would be to run out of time and end up moving all that stuff anyway.

Step Seven: Don’t Wait Til the Last Minute

Start this process as early as possible. If you wait until the last minute, you’ll stress yourself out and may not have the time or energy to donate, sell, or recycle your items. If you truly want to declutter your space, commit to the process and make time to take on the task. 

Step Eight: Reach Out for Additional Assistance 

If you’ve lived at your current home for a while, it’s a safe bet you’ve accumulated more clutter than anyone wants to go through alone. Don’t be afraid to reach out to friends and family for some additional help. Not only can they lend an extra pair of hands, but they will also view your clutter with an impartial eye. A third party is invaluable when considering whether something is worth keeping. Your friends and family may even take a few things home — a win-win for everyone!

Adopting a Donor and Upcycler Mentality


While decluttering is often easier than letting go, reassess your approach and mindset to successfully part with items. Consider donating clothing items, as they could end up in landfills if discarded.  Charities, thrift stores, or even friends may accept slightly worn or stained clothes for those in need. It is common for charitable organizations to come to you to collect donations.

Below are tips to help you get items in an eco-conscious way.

  • “Beyond repair” items can be sold for scrap and repurposed(or upcycled) 
  • Things your kids have outgrown can be donated to friends or family or given to charity.
  • Old magazines, catalogs, and newspapers can be recycled to help pack moving bins.

Decluttering for Your New Eco-friendly Home with Confidence


Moving to a new place is a fresh start. It’s an opportunity to finally get rid of items you no longer need while making room for the new things you’ll acquire. If you find decluttering challenging, employ this eco-friendly step-by-step guide to navigate the process sustainably. It’s a huge accomplishment, even if you only save yourself from packing one or two extra boxes. 

Start small, set goals, and get ready for a cleaner, better home.