How to recycle and dispose of books in the Netherlands?

In my last blog post, I mentioned doing a whole series of articles on recycling and re-using stuff in the Netherlands. I encourage homeowners to declutter responsibly, hence I am trying my best to answering your question

“How to get rid of all of this stuff without contributing to landfills?

Today we’re going to have a look at books. As a professional organizer, I am hearing some of my clients say, “I just don’t have the heart to throw away books into a bin.” Well, I don’t have the heart either, and the great news is that you don’t have to! So let’s have a look at alternatives…

“MINIBIEBS” FOR DUTCH AND ENGLISH TITLES

Luckily for us, the Dutch are great at encouraging people to re-use books and get second-hand ones. If you live here, you couldn’t have missed all the mini-libraries on the streets. They are called a “minibieb” (from the Dutch word for library = de bibliotheek). It’s not exactly a library per se, rather a place where you bring your books if you no longer want them, with the option of taking something new. The good thing is that in the more international cities, you’ll find titles both in Dutch and English.

So if you do have any books in these languages, just bring them there! Here is a great website that has a locator of many mini-libraries. Type your postcode, your street name, or allow to track your location. The map is full of minibiebs, but if you find one that’s missing on the web, you can add it (preferably with a photo) and contribute to the website.

You can also check with your local school to see if they have a similar going system. I know that the International School Haarlem has a minibieb at the upper primary campus just at the entrance (check if it’s still available due to the covid measurements).

OTHER LANGUAGES BOOKS

If you own and wish to declutter books in the less common languages, minibieb might not be the best home. *Although that depends a lot on the neighborhood. I’ve seen some places with German, Spanish, or Turkish books, so check first, and use your common sense.

What I advise is to turn to your mother tongue community on FB (or elsewhere). I am a part of at least five FB groups from the Czech and Slovakian nationalities, so I bet everyone will find some of their mother tongue groups there. Giving away your books to the same language community will higher the chances of them reading your books.

Of course, if you have friends, schools, or clubs that speak your language, FB isn’t your only option. 😉

SELL YOUR BOOKS

Just as with the clothing, you might want to consider the pros and cons of selling. How much are you going to earn vs. the time and energy you’re going to spend dealing with the sale. Whichever platform you want to choose, check for how much books are sold there. And I am saying sold, not offered! Make sure that when putting a price, you maximize your sale change and minimize the rude comments and insults for a “too expensive” offer.

I’ve seen many people selling books on FB or Marktplaats for friendly prices around 1-5€/book. Usually, it makes sense to offer a selection of books with the possibility of selling all at once to minimize your effort. You may sell a series ( like HP, LOTR, etc…), books of the same author, genre, or age group/ (reading level for kids). It’s going to be much easier to deal with 1 buyer and get rid of 7 books rather than 7 buyers selling 7 books. Time efficiency is everything!

Another alternative to selling your books is The Book Exchange – a second-hand bookshop focused on English literature and social sciences. They’re based in Amsterdam center and happy to buy books from people. So if you have a big and valuable collection of books, and don’t want to waste it on the internet hassle, get in touch with them. You can either bring your books in person or send them a picture first. After reviewing which titles they need, they’ll send you an offer.
I don’t have any personal experience with this shop. However, it sounds and looks wonderful as far as their website tells. I’d welcome to hear your experiences to add to this article if you have any comments to share 🙂

ANTIQUE BOOKS

I am happy I recently run into a FB post of someone asking about selling valuable antique books. The Netherlands is full of antique places and bookshops, so I can imagine the changes are quite high to sell something. I have no personal experience with antique books so far, but after researching the options for Amsterdammers, Antonbooks.com is buying old and rare books in good condition. Then they re-sell it online, shipping these rarities worldwide (with brilliant Google reviews).

If you have any personal experience with selling antique books (or other antiques), please comment below or message me to expand our common well of knowledge together.

MAGAZINES

Paper recycling will be obviously the simplest way to get rid of magazines, and yes, even if it has a slightly glossy cover, it’s said to be fine for recycling. (What you can not recycle in the paper container is photo paper, but magazine covers are good to go).

Don’t you have the heart to throw your magazines away? Could they be used by another pair of eyes? Sure! But first, let’s review what kind of magazine you have…

If you subscribe to the “latest news and gossips” kind of magazine, let’s face it. By the time you’d try passing it on, it’s mostly outdated. Try offering it to a friend or a neighbor, and if you’re not successful there, part with it by the recycling bin.

However, magazines with more “durable” information, interesting content, and beautiful images can have a second life! Many people still appreciate a year-old National Geographic, Vogue, House & Garden, and similar.

Here are few ideas on how to pass it on:
Kringloop – check with your local second-hand store if they have a magazine section because many of them do!
Waiting Rooms – when visiting a dentist, doctor, or waiting for a haircut, keep your eyes open for the collection of magazines lying around…start a conversation with the people at the desk and ask them if they’d be interested to get few of your latest numbers.
Shelters – there are many shelters in the Netherlands for victims of domestic abuse, refugees, or homeless people. If you know any of these, and have some Dutch inspiring magazines, try giving them away in there.
(Art) Schools – magazines with beautiful pictures are the best source of collage making, or fun colourful art. If you have magazines with child-appropriate content, ask your school whether they’re interested to take in some of your pieces as their crafts materials.

Lucie Krobova
Founder of Your SPACE by Lucie
Professional Organizer
Amsterdam, NL


Are you postponing decluttering because you don’t know where to start or how to go about it? Contact me for online guidance, and I will bring structure and accountability to your project!

For residents of Amsterdam and its
surroundings, you can hire me for in-person decluttering and organizing!

How to recycle and dispose of clothing in The Netherlands?

Perhaps you figured out that decluttering your house before any big spring cleaning is a good idea. It’s awesome if you feel the determination to clear out your life a little bit. But have you thought your plan all the way through, or is there still this pending question:

“How do I get rid of all of this stuff without contributing to landfills?”

Declutter with responsibility. Ecological awareness is often high on the list for us living in the Netherlands and hence a common reason for hesitation regarding decluttering.

Photo by EVG Culture from Pexels

As a professional, I try my best to give items a second life. And the good news is, there’re just so many other options besides landfils!

I’ve been searching for alternative options nearby Amsterdam and Haarlem and will cover my findings in this and many other following articles.

This is only the first part of my blog series, “How to recycle in the Netherlands.” I will be covering books, electronics, toys, and many other topics in the coming weeks.

(If you’re from the rest of the Netherlands, you can still find beneficial information universal to the NL).

REUSE AND RECYCLE

Reuse and recycle companies are my favorite option for giving your wardrobe a new life. And your stuff doesn’t necessarily need to be in great condition! Strange? Keep reading 😉

There’re clothing containers all over Amsterdam (except the very center around Dam Square and de Wallen) from sympany.nl. I just love how accessible and simple they made things for any busy declutterer. Simply enter your postcode on their website, and you get a map of all their containers. They’re big and green, and once you start paying attention, you’ll see them everywhere!

Make sure to protect your donation from damp and dirt by securing it in a tied bin bag. Sympany unpacks your donation and decides what’s sellable and what isn’t. They’ll sell your clothing in second-hand shops and pour their earnings back to the company to fuel their bigger goal.

The goal is textile sustainability and upcycling. Even if you have damaged clothing, it can still be used and recycled into a raw textile material! It can further serve as heat or sound insulation and carry on its reincarnation in another form. So add your ripped jeans and shirts in without a worry. The only condition is cleanliness.

If you wish to get rid of your jewelry, shoes, bedsheets, or other textiles, Sympany takes everything textile-related such as curtains or even teddy-bears!

For Haarlemmers, there are no Sympany containers as the town hall has its own textile recycling system. To find where’s your nearest container, fill in your postcode on this website. Shoes, curtains, bedsheets, and most other textiles are also allowed in. However, don’t waste your trip going there with pillows and duvets as they don’t take these.

In case you’re outside of the Amsterdam and Haarlem area, don’t worry. There’s another company doing their best in providing residents of the Netherlands with textile containers. Visit Reshare.nl to find a nearby container if you live in Den Haag, Rotterdam, or other Dutch cities. Because I focus on the Amsterdam area, I can’t tell exactly what’s happening with the clothing, but I am sure you can find out! Please, let me know if you do.

KID’S CLOTHING

Kid’s clothing is often slightly harder to get rid of as there’s so much emotion connected to it. Besides, kids grow up so fast that most of their outgrown pieces are still in great shape.
I get to see a lot of stashed kiddie clothes around my client’s houses just because the parents are worried that it’s not going to find “the right home.”

I’d advise you to find a community of parents in your local area (usually on FB groups) and try giving it or selling it in there.

Tip: sell or donate things in bulk rather than as individual items. You’ll rarely earn back your effort by selling just single pieces! Bulk your clothing in small packages of the same size, gender, season, quality, and condition. Now it’s easier to put a nice round price on it. Make sure that when photographing the bundle, it’s still visible what items you’re selling and what’s the condition.

RESELL YOUR CLOTHING

For more expensive clothing that is just too hard to donate, you can try selling it on platforms designed for this purpose. There’re apps like Vinted.nl that will allow you to list your items fast and simple.

If you’re Amsterdammer and live nearby the Pijp, there’s a great shop, ReLoveExchange, that can re-sell any clothing that’s still in great shape. You can choose to get cash or store credit in exchange. They’re currently (March 2021) not accepting donations for the corona regulations and slow sales, but it’s worth keeping their web in your bookmarks for future opportunities.

If you own high-end designer items in pristine condition, you might be interested in selling your items on Lampoo.com. A company for luxurious pre-loved items operating from Italy and buying in from the whole of EU.

SELL REALISTICALLY

I know it can be hard to part with things while not getting anything back (right…except for more space and peace of mind!). Thus I see people trying to sell as many things as possible without a more holistic look. So let me remind you something!

How important is it to really earn few euros versus spending time with your family, enjoying your free time, or doing some extra work? Everyone needs to ask themselves whether it’s actually worth it in their unique life circumstances. I am in no way trying to discourage you from selling things, but you should consider few things:

“How much extra time do you have in your day?
What obligations you have to fulfill daily?
What’s your financial situation (is it going to make a difference?)?
How valuable is the item you’re selling (look at the second-hand price, not the original one!)
How much time does it take to take care of the selling process from A-Z?”

The answer will be unique to each one of us. If you have the time, the energy, and the item you wish to sell is valuable enough to make a difference in your bank account, go for it!

For more discussion on this topic, watch my older video and engage in the comments below.

Lucie Krobova
Founder of Your SPACE by Lucie
Professional Organizer
Amsterdam, NL


Are you postponing decluttering because you don’t know where to start or how to go about it? Contact me for online guidance, and I will bring structure and accountability to your project!

For residents of Amsterdam and its
surroundings, you can hire me for in-person decluttering and organizing!