What Can You Recycle in the Living Room? How to Declutter CDs, DVDs & More...

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Living rooms are often the busiest places in the house. They're where we entertain, work and relax. And as such, they can be a breeding ground for clutter.

But you don't have to live with that mess! Recycling can be the answer, and it's much simpler than you think.

Here are some easy tips to organize and declutter your living room without feeling like you've had to sacrifice your favourite stuff.

CD and DVD Collection

Decluttering DVDs and CDs is a great way to save space in your living room.

Although it can be hard to part with some of your old favourites, many of us have CDs, DVDs or even cassettes and VHS tapes lying around that we never use any more. Those are the ones we can get rid of without regret.

How To Declutter DVDs

  • First, check your entire DVD collection for any disc that is scratched, broken, or generally no longer in good condition. If they don't work, you're never going to use them, so put them in the "broken" pile to be recycled.
  • Next, put aside all your favourites that you absolutely, definitely still want. Add these to your "keep" pile.
  • By now, you might have noticed some DVDs that don't actually belong to you. We're all guilty of borrowing a DVD from a friend and then forgetting about it. Now's the time to give them back!
  • Go through the pile that's left and check whether you really still want them. Maybe you have an old kids movie that your family is unlikely to play again? The rule I use is this: if there are any movies in your collection that you haven't watched in a couple of years, get rid of them. These go in the "purge" pile.
  • By the end of this process you should have three DVD piles: broken, keep and purge.

How To Declutter CDs

Your CD clutter can be dealt with in exactly the same way. Just follow the steps above.

You may be tempted to make a digital copy of your albums on iTunes and then dispose of the physical CD, but beware. US copyright laws state that unless you purchased the music in digital format, you can't have a digital copy unless you own the original as well.

So, sadly, copying your CD and then selling or giving it away is not permitted. The same goes for your DVDs.

What To Do With The CDS and DVDs You Keep

Now you have your streamlined DVD & CD collection, you can look at some solutions for storing them neatly.

These days there are some very nice eco-friendly furniture options, made from sustainable materials. Storage towers are a great place to keep the media that you actually still watch and listen to.

A couple of storage towers I personally love are here and here.

What To Do With Unwanted CDs and DVDs

So what to do with your purge pile. Well if you have the time, you can certainly try to sell any used movies or albums that are still in good condition.

If you have a Facebook account, then their local marketplace is often a good option. Alternatively, you can sell on eBay, Craigslist or similar websites.

But if you don't need the money, or simply don't have time to list your stuff for sale, then don't throw it away!

Donate your working discs to friends or family (if they like the same music or movies as you do) or give them to a local charity.

How To Recycle Broken CDs and DVDs

The final stage of decluttering your CD and DVD collection is to get rid of the damaged or broken discs. Please do not throw these in the trash!

Look for a local techno-trash recycling company. Most areas have them, even if you weren't aware they were there. use Google Maps to find the closest one to where you live.

If you live in a remote area and don't find any recycling companies nearby, then you can still send your techno-trash away to be recycled. Companies such as GreenDisk will do this for a small fee.

It's a great feeling when you see how much space your decluttering efforts have made. But there are other things in your living room that you can recycle as well. Here are a few more ideas for you to consider.

Used Batteries

Most households have quite the selection of remotes, and with those come batteries. When they run out, they often end up lying around in drawers or on shelves. A perfect target for your decluttering project!

But please note - batteries can't EVER go in the trash or recycling bin!

They leak harmful chemicals which can be disastrous for the environment. In some states it's illegal to throw used batteries in the trash (and so it should be). But even if that's not the case where you live, recycling your batteries is essential.

How To Recycle Dead Batteries

Dispose of used batteries at a designated battery collection site. Check with your local waste management service for details on recycling used batteries in your area.

Also when it's time to replace your batteries, consider switching to rechargeable ones next time. You'll save money, and won't have the problem of decluttering used batteries in the future.


Books are great. But they take up a lot of space and it can be hard to find decent shelves or storage solutions that look neat.

If you're looking for ways to declutter your house, books might be one of the first things that come to mind. And it's true - books are heavy and bulky, so when you want them out of the way, it's hard not to just toss them in a corner or into a box.

Unless a book is so damaged that it's unusable, you should avoid just adding it to your paper recycling. But there is an easy solution!

How To Recycle Old Books

You can donate your old books at any time - even if they're not really "used" anymore. Your local library will happily accept donations of new or gently used children's literature as well as adult fiction and nonfiction titles that match their collection needs-and then put those books to good use.

Or if you're interested in clearing out titles that are more than five years old, book donation programs will gladly collect them for free and do their best to resell them at a low price or recycle them responsibly. Plenty of home schooling providers even accept textbooks - so check around and see which organizations near you can benefit from your unwanted items.

Old Electrical Items

The world has a massive problem with e-waste at the moment, and it's being caused by individual consumers. E-Waste harms our environment and contributes to global warming.

Please don't be a part of that.

Your old electrical items such as your TV, DVD player or stereo cannot just be thrown in the trash. It has to be recycled properly.

Take your used items to your local recycling center. There's one in most big towns and cities, and several large electronic stores will also take them (including Best Buy).

They will take a whole bunch of different items, including used TVs, laptops, cell phones, printers, e-readers, cameras, games consoles, CD players, radios and much more.

Recycling these items is free of charge if you take them to the store yourself.

So there's no excuse for saying you don't know what to do.

Plastic Bags

Hopefully most of you already know why plastic bags are so bad, and are now using reusable bags for your grocery shop. But even so, most of us still have old plastic bags lying around the house.

The worst thing we can do with these is thrown them away. They'll end up in landfill, or worse still in our rivers and oceans.

How To Recycle Old Plastic Bags

Some grocers and other stores have facilities where you can drop off your old plastic bags for recycling. To find one near you, click here.

In the unlikely event that there are no drop off locations nearby, try find creative ways to make use of any spare bags you have lying around. They can make handy ways to store smaller items you may keep in the garage or loft, such as screws, nuts and bolts, or spare pens and pencils.

The Final Word

Decluttering your living area is a great idea. It can make your house look bigger and give your kids more space to play. You can make some extra cash, or help somebody else out when you donate your unwanted items.

However, decluttering shouldn't come at a cost to the environment. Care must be taken when you decide to get rid of your old DVD and CD collection, books or electrical items. Focus on recycling as much as possible, and never send anything to landfill unless there is absolutely no other option.

Good luck, and enjoy the extra space in your house.

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Arabella Ruiz is a senior researcher at The Roundup. She lives in San Antonio, Texas and has been interested in the environment from an early age. Arabella loves to campaign for environmental causes and fundraise for charities that aim to preserve wildlife habitat, protect endangered species or help people with climate change problems.
Arabella Ruiz
Arabella Ruiz is a senior researcher at The Roundup. She lives in San Antonio, Texas and has been interested in the environment from an early age. Arabella loves to campaign for environmental causes and fundraise for charities that aim to preserve wildlife habitat, protect endangered species or help people with climate change problems.

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