Minimalism and Decluttering | Discarding Your Belongings Mindfully

30 items of clothing, 7 pairs of shoes, 2 bags

Recently on my Patreon feed I discussed the concept of ‘Mottainai’. This is a Japanese word reflecting a sense of regret over waste. ‘Mottainai’ perfectly captures my sentiment about decluttering. Today I want to talk about how to discard your unwanted belongings mindfully.


Regardless of whether we find an item useful or not, time, effort and resources have gone into its manufacture. Simply discarding your excess belongings does not honour their true value.

Many of our unwanted items end up in landfill, and as conscious consumers it is our environmental duty to stop adding to this problem. Whether we like it or not, we are part of the consumerist cycle, and unless we pay attention to what we do, we add to the problem.

When you discard your unwanted belongings mindfully, you show respect for the value of your items, and you show respect for our planet and its people. This process will also make it more likely you will consider purchasing items with more care in the future.

Habits can only really be replaced with new habits. If you are one who purchases too much, spend more time ‘un-buying’ what you bought. Decluttering your belongings thoughtfully is a time consuming effort in itself, but this is one of the best ways to teach yourself not to purchase items on impulse.

Whenever you want to discard some of your belongings, I recommend you follow the steps below.

  1. Sell. Try to recover some of the monetary value of the item. This will make you more mindful of the cost of getting the item in the first place.
  2. Give away or swap. Can you give unwanted items to friends, family or acquaintances? Can you find people online who want to swap for something you need?
  3. Local community. Try selling you unwanted things through a garage sale, or leave unwanted items on your verge during allocated verge collection times.
  4. Recycle or discard. If the item is in bad condition, can it be recycled or used for another purpose? Research sensible ways to discard and recycle things beyond repair.
  5. Finally… If you are still left with some items after all this, you are free to donate! Make sure you do so responsibly by researching the best places to donate your items. Reduce waste and landfill in the future by making considered shopping choices.

Below is a video discussing these points  in more detail. Check out my YouTube channel for new videos about minimalism every week. Follow me on Instagram and Facebook. I have also have a Patreon account, where for a small donation you can view additional content.



  1. I struggle with this concept as well. I’ve always had an easy time decluttering; I am the opposite of a “pack rat.” But in my adult lifetimeI have bought and re-bought so many things; I have tried in recent years to be more cognizant of use value when I’m making purchases. Several years ago I would have bought something – an item of clothing, a piece of furniture, whatever – and thought to myself “if it doesn’t work out I can always sell it on eBay/share with Friend X/donate to charity.” I am really trying to break myself of that habit. Especially after having spent some time volunteering at an organization that receives clothing and other household donations… a good deal of the donated items are sent straight to the trash or some kind of recycling for pennies program. I am not a minimalist, but I try to be more and more responsible about consumerism as time goes on.

    Clothes are the biggest culprit for me but I’m also trying to be more mindful about buying utensils and other kitchen gadgets. As a small example, I have bought/never used/sold or donated/re-bought at least three apple corers over the past decade. Such a waste!

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Thank you for bringing attention to reducing clutter and minimizing mindfully! I sometimes feel guilty when I “purge” things or downsize, exactly how you described ‘Mottainai’ in your post. These are great ideas on how to combat those feelings, but also prevent that cycle of consumerism.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Once I learned about donating unwanted items to charity, I want to town clearing out perfectly good, but unwanted items. It’s guilt free, and the benefits of clearing out excess stuff are enormous. I also find Kijiji is the best way to find a buyer for anything of value. Sold used tires within 6 hours for $280 last week.


  4. I’ve been harboring the dream of an epic yard sale for literally years now – and yet the bags of clothing linger on. It’s likely time to concede to failure, and just donate the lot – though I would prefer your step 1!

    Liked by 1 person

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