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How to recycle a wagon (and give away not-perfect t-shirts)

When I declutter, it’s super important to me to dispose of my things is a not-trash-producing way.   Some stuff does need to be thrown away, of course, but a surprising amount can be disposed of somewhere other than the landfill.

decluttering papers

I’ve gotten rid of SO MUCH STUFF this summer, and happily, I’ve hardly had to throw anything away.   It takes a little longer to give away/sell/donate stuff, but the satisfaction of knowing my stuff is being used makes the effort totally worth it to me.

(Here’s how I declutter without creating trash.)

Recently I got rid of some things that needed something other than my freecycle/hand-me-down route, so I thought I’d share ’em here in case these ideas could help you.

The Wagon (+ random metal stuff)

We got this metal wagon years ago as a hand-me-down from Mr. FG’s cousins, and it’s been through years of play at our house.

how to recycle a metal wagon

Remember how we used the wagon for picnics at the pier??

Anyway, somehow, the wagon got run over and the back half was bent beyond repair.

The wagon was too big to put out with curbside recycling, so I found a metal recycling company in the area and dropped the wagon off, along with some other random metal stuff I’d been saving (like old hinges, and the peeled Schlage front door handle that I replaced for free).

This company does pay for metal, but it’s only $0.02/pound and I had 19 pounds.

$0.38 was most certainly not worth the paperwork, so I left without compensation, which was fine. I just wanted my stuff to get recycled!

Imperfect T-shirts

When I cleaned out Mr. FG’s tshirt drawer, I found quite a few that were maybe not fabulous enough for Goodwill to sell, but which still had plenty of life left in them.

I know you can donate things like that to Goodwill and they can always turn unsold items into rags, but it’s more awesome if people can actually wear the clothes, you know?

shirts for the homeless

So, I dropped a bag of them off at a local establishment that provides emergency, transitional, and permanent housing for people in need.   Since they give away their donated clothes for free, I have good reason to believe that they’ll be worn and not discarded, so, yay!

(By the way, I do cut up old tshirts to use as rags, but I can only use so many rags, and I try to use only the most worn/dated items for rags…kind of a last resort.)


What’s your favorite way to declutter without throwing your stuff away?

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Monday 17th of August 2015

Hi Kristen,

About a year ago (maybe more) you posted an entry about a white curtain you made for your bathroom. I am finally ready to make that curtain! :) Could you possibly send me a link to that?



Tuesday 18th of August 2015

Hmm...I wonder if maybe you saw that on another blog? One of my bathrooms is windowless and the other's only window is actually IN the shower, which means it doesn't have a curtain.


Thursday 13th of August 2015

That wagon would have made a cute planter

Jenny D.

Tuesday 11th of August 2015

I try to reuse as much as I can. One of my favorite projects was making outgrown flannel pj's and shirts from my two sons into matching quilts. I used their old Radio Flyer wagon in my flower bed until it totally rotted through (still missing it). Old towels and t-shirts are great for cleaning, art projects, wrapping pottery in for transport (one son grew up to be an artist), shop rags, and washing the dog, etc. The junk drawer came in very handy for college art projects - he even used some small kitchen appliances that were no longer being used to build robots. I've made curtains from the flat sheet after the fitted sheet wore out. Vintage floral pillow cases make the loveliest covers on the seats of my wicker furniture set (for the loveseat I used two of them, overlapping the top one - I added some red buttons in the center of the flowers along the edge to make it more attractive) they are so easy to wash and put back on. I used more pillow cases to cover the throw pillows - it looks very shabby chic with the variety of florals and soft colors.


Monday 10th of August 2015

The area we live in has a lot of "Gaia Movement" clothing drop off boxes. They take clothes and shoes and recycle them either by sending them where they can be worn, or recycling them down to base materials if they are no longer usable. When we have clothing that isn't good enough for resale, I drop them off there.


Monday 10th of August 2015

Our local landfill just started taking clothing and footwear for recycling - I am so happy! I've been able to clean out my closets much more thoroughly, knowing that those things which are torn or stained, no longer fit or are wanted, and are not good enough to consign or donate, will be used after all.

And I also use clean but unwearable clothing, cut into pieces, as stuffing for draft blockers (make a long tube of cloth, open at one end, stuff, sew up or tie the other end) - good for keeping out drafts under doors in the winter. I actually sew these to sell at a craft fair and have had reasonable success. T-shirt material is ideal for this as it's heavy enough to keep the draft blocker in place, and is not attractive to critters like rice is, nor too heavy to move like sand is.

I also make bags (purses/totes/etc) from the top parts of jeans or skirts and line them with lighter fabrics from shirts or similar clothing. And I always keep the buttons and zippers or other hardware from clothing and purses to use in making zippered pouches, button snowmen Christmas ornaments, or other crafts for sale. It's amazing what you can upcycle - do a Google search (or your search engine of choice) and see what comes up. Old clothing is a gold mine of fabric for small projects - or even larger ones like quilts.

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