Apr 22, 2011

Eco-Friendly Minimalism

Welcome to the Earth Day Blog Carnival

This post is part of the Earth Day Blog Carnival hosted by Child of the Nature Isle and Monkey Butt Junction. Each participant has shared their practices and insights of earth friendly, environmentally conscious, eco-living. This carnival is our way to share positive information and inspiration that can create healing for our planet. Please read to the end of this post to find a list of links to the other carnival participants. Happy Earth Day!



It’s Earth Day! A day to celebrate all the wonder that our planet holds and to renew our commitments to live green, simple lives in order to make the best choices for our families.


For some of us, this involves a commitment to a new way of life.  It involves us changing our day-to-day choices and minimizing our impact on the earth.  For me, this also involved a transition to minimalism.  By simplifying my home and lifestyle, I am better able to see what my family truly needs to live comfortably.


When one looks into simplifying and minimalism, you are bombarded with the same repetitive advice.  “Get rid of everything.  Toss it all.”


Here’s the thing.  One of the main reasons for practicing minimalism is  consciousness.  You strive to not be controlled by your stuff, and to give yourself room to breathe in your own home.  This is fine, and admirable, but my concern is this: when you “toss” that stuff, where does it go?  The landfills?  To others who don’t need your junk?  In a box that you’ll tackle “someday”?  That is not being conscious.


There are many ways of getting rid of your unwanted possessions, but some are better than others.  Here are some people and places that you might not have thought of.


  • Animal Shelters.  You often obly think of them when you’re getting rid of old dog bowls and pet beds after the loss of a furry friend.  But they have a lot of needs you might not have expected!

What they might take: dishes for animal food; blankets and towels for pet bedding and grooming; old pillows; old toys and rubber kitchen utensils.

  • Day Cares and Preschools.  You know how much stuff you’ve acquired with your own children.  Imagine how much they’ve acquired at their daycare!  Messes are made every day, and someone has to keep things organized.  Maybe you have some things that could help!

What they might take: Televisions and stereos to play music/dance videos and CDs; art supplies; towels, blankets, bedding, oversized t-shirts for paint smocks, fabrics for rags; extra unbreakable kitchenware for play; children’s toys, clothes, etc.; extra paper, coloring books, magazines, school bags; Tupperware, dishes, etc.

  • Local Shelters.  There are so many men, women, and children who are pulling themselves out of the vicious cycle of poverty.  Your excess could mean the difference between despair and delight!

What they might take: Clothes, bedding, electronics, kitchenware, household goods, canned goods, bedding, furniture, etc.  In a lot of situations, these people can use almost anything.

  • Senior Citizen Complexes. Your grandparents have needs too!  Don’t forget to check with them when making your home less cluttered!

What they might take: Clothes, especially pajamas, exercise clothes, bathrobes, slippers, and anything easy to get in and out of; curtains and decorations; movies, music, televisions, electronics.

  • Community Centers.  It seems that when money gets tight, these places are the first to get hit.  How often do you see these buildings in disrepair and neglect?  Maybe you have some things that could help!

What they might take: Sporting equipment; musical instruments; children’s toys; paint; tools; lawn equipment; desks and furniture.

  • Libraries.  After books, you can’t really see libraries needing much else, right?  Check out their events calendars.  Libraries put on a lot of extra programs now, and they might need some things!

What they might take: Desks and office furniture; kids toys; school and art supplies; computers and accessories; televisions and media items.

  • Local Charities.  Your items might not be much use to them immediately, but many local charities host bizarres, yard sales and flea markets to raise funds.  If you don’t want to bother selling things yourself, they may be able to help!

What they might take: collectibles; household items; books; electronics.

  • Churches.  Depending on the size and community involvement, some churches have full kitchens, reception halls, media rooms, daycares, schools, and much more.  And with fewer parishioners contributing less and less, some churches are in desperate need!

What they might take: Furniture; electronics; kitchenwares and appliances; office supplies; religious articles; local historic documents and items.


Alternatively, you can always sell your items on Kijiji or Craigslist, or give it away on Freecycle.  Your local Big Brothers Big Sisters may also be looking for donations and may be able to pick up!


Another option you might look to is simply dropping it off at your local Salvation Army.  However, the Salvation Army is often bombarded with well-meaning donations that end up simply being trash, which they have to then pay to be taken away in their garbage.  This is unfair, and a cruel blow to a charity that has helped so many.  Here is a list of things they cannot accept to look over before you drop off your things.


In the end, the most important thing is that your excess is not simply dumped on the side of the road.  There are so many options and ways to keep your possessions out of the landfills.  All it takes is a phone call.



Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed my post, please subscribe to miniMOMist & share on twitter.

Visit Monkey Butt Junction and Child of the Nature Isle to read all about the Earth Day Blog Carnival.  Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be live and updated on April 22 with all the carnival links.)
Going Green in 2011 – Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama discusses the way she and her family are going “greener” in 2011.

Our Greatest Teacher – Amanda at Let’s Take the Metro shares her experiences with her children and nature, their greatest teacher.

Dreaming of Spring Gardening – Erin of the Waterloons talks about the ultimate in local food, her backyard garden.

Earth Conscious Minimalism – Nada at miniMOMist thinks minimalism can help you save the world — as long as you don’t just toss everything in the trash! Check out Her list of places to donate (bet you haven’t thought of them all!).

Blessings to the Earth – Amy at Anktangle believes that a simple act, such as being intentionally grateful for our food, is just the catalyst we need to bring about large-scale change.

Eight Movies to Inspire Change – Mrs Green at Little Green Blog shares her top 8 movies that have inspired her to take action to make the world a better place. She’d love to hear your suggestions to add to her viewing list!

Can I Have a Green Period Too? Kelly at Becoming Crunchy shares the environmental impact of switching to sustainable menstrual products, along with offering a great Mama Cloth giveaway for anyone interested in making the switch (and for those who already have and want to increase their stash!).

An Eden to Call Our Own – Lucy at Dreaming Aloud shares how learning to care for the Earth starts in her own garden.

Elimination Communication – Melissa at the New Mommy Files discusses the environmental impact of diapering, and why elimination communication was the best choice for her family.

The Living Earth: A Meditation in Science and Reverence – Seonaid at The Practical Dilettante asks you to pause to wonder at the blessing of the fact that our living planet is here at all.

Earth Day Anthem – Amanda at Let’s Take the Metro created a poem in honor of Mother Earth, women and nurturers everywhere.

The Plasticity of Compromise – Zoie at TouchstoneZ shares how she is working to compromise on healthy family living and avoiding plastics whenever possible.

Earth Day Resolutions – Charise at I Thought I Knew Mama shares why she has decided to make Earth Day resolutions, what those resolutions are, and how they are a step up from her current efforts at green living.

Is it time for you to say “Enough!”? Mrs Green at My Zero Waste asks you to rise up and say ‘Enough!’ on Earth Day.

Homeschooling with the Earth – Terri at Child of the Nature Isle shares her desires and dreams for Earth-based learning and the ways her two young children have already started a natural curriculum.

Beyond the Green Sheen – Jenn at Monkey Butt Junction offers some advice on how to avoid greenwashing and make purchasing choices that really have a positive impact.


  • What a great list! You’re right that so many people fall back on the Salvation Army when there are many other organizations that need and help just as much. I’m anti-stuff right now and trying to get rid of as much as possible so I donated to a charity that sells goods to help veterans. I will definitely keep your list in mind for the future!

    • Hi Amanda, thanks for the comment! I agree, there are so many charities that need our help. The Salvation Army is a great cause and deserves a lot of support, but it’s not fair to just dump all your unwanted trash on them. And there are so many great opportunities to get rid of your stuff. In our community, you can even donate your old cars that will no longer run to the community college and they will use them in their mechanics program. Nothing need go to waste anymore!

  • Oh this is brilliant. Thanks so much for sharing. I am on a ‘live with less’ mission too and yes it takes a lot longer to think consciously ‘what shall I do with this’ but doesn’t it feel better to donate and recycle all the way. best of luck with your minimalist lifestyle and thanks for sharing and inspiring post :)

    • Thank you, Mrs. Green, I’m glad you like it. It just breaks my heart to see things tossed outside to go to the garbage when you know they could be donated or given away to a better cause!

  • This is such a helpful resource! I hadn’t even considered animal shelters! I’m going to prioritize donating to our local animal shelter when we have our next batch of things to give away.

    Happy Earth Day!

    • Excellent Charise! A couple of holey towels or an old throw pillow can be used to line a poor kitty’s bed for it’s (hopefully) short stay until it is adopted! Good luck and Happy Earth Day!

  • This is an awesome, thoughtful post – we’ve just been starting to put things into piles to begin limiting all the stuff, and I didn’t even consider all the different places that may be able to use it all. Saving this one for future reference for sure!

    Thank you! :)

    • Hi Kelly! Glad I could be of help. You never know just who is going to find your excess stuff helpful!

  • Thank you so much for this post! I am preparing for a move and have so many things to “get rid of.” I’m so appreciative of the reminder to consciously clear out those unwanted items, because things never “go away.” There is so much on this list I never would have thought of – thank you for the ideas!

    • Glad you enjoyed it, Melissa! You’re right, things never do just go away. It is our responsibility to be conscience of where and how our belongings leave our home, even if we don’t feel it is important. Good luck with the move!

  • I LOOOOOOVE your list! I am on a tear right now to simplify! I had surgery a few weeks ago and have been couped up at home which has really made me realize that we can do without a lot of what we have. Thank goodness we have a small house. I really do not have the space to have “too much.” But there is certainly plenty that I can repurpose, donate, and swap. Your list was a huge inspiration. I am printing it out for my husband who needs a little motivation in this area.

    • Hopefully your surgery went well, Jennifer! I hate being couped up at home when I’m sick. I go stir crazy! But you’re right, it does give one ample time to think about what you have and how to get rid of it! Hope you have fun decluttering. I love decluttering, myself!

  • This is a great list and reminder that our unwanted items can find good use elsewhere if we choose the right places. I have a significant amount of clothes I want to give away but in the small island where we live, there are not so many options. However this post has given me the motivation to ask questions and find out once and for all where all these good condition but unwanted garments can go.

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  • What a great list! I had not thought of most of those ideas for places to donate things. I am on a journey to lessen clutter and unused stuff in my home right now, and it always helps to have more ideas about where to take the things to give them a second life. Thank you!

  • I love this post for the Earth Day carnival! I will be sharing it on facebook and twitter. It is true that we always hear the advice, “toss it!” I always interpret that to mean, “find an appropriate place for it.” But, many people don’t think about where there stuff ends up. We’re so programed to think that if we’re done with something, then the item must be used up. We have to rethink how to reuse items because it’s gotten to the point that we are choking up the environment with all this stuff! Great points and some places I hadn’t thought of!

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