Reader Jeannine submitted the following to Ask Unclutterer:
What to do with trophies and plaques? My brother had lots of medals and trophies from wrestling in high school and ended up just THROWING them all away because he didn’t know what to do with them.
That seems a bit extreme, but now I have a box full of speech plaques from high school (I wasn’t exactly an athlete!) in my basement and find myself wondering if I really want to keep them.
Is there a way to at least recycle these items?
Awards and gifts of appreciation are always difficult to part with, and I actually don’t recommend getting rid of all of them. It’s nice to have a reminder in your space that your hard work was worth your efforts. For instance, I think framed diplomas are appropriate on office walls.
That being said, I don’t think a person needs to hang onto a participation ribbon from a third grade sack race or bean bag relay. There is usually a clear-cut line between what is worth keeping and what isn’t. To find that line, ask yourself these two questions:
- Do I want to display this item? (Yes, keep. No, get rid of it.)
- Do I gain inspiration from looking at this item? (Yes, keep. No, get rid of it.)
If you aren’t willing to display the item in your home, then it’s not worth keeping. Take a picture of the award or scan it and get rid of the physical clutter. You shouldn’t waste space storing something you don’t value.
Instead of tossing the item directly into the trash, though, I recommend calling your local trophy shop and asking them what they do with old items. Many will tell you just to drop your items off at their store. Our local shop participates in metal and wood recycling programs. If your local shop thinks you’re weird for calling, check your county’s website. Often, local governments have recycling programs for metal and wood. If both of these contacts are fruitless, call your recycling center. One of these three resources should be able to help you.
Another idea, too, is to call the group that gave you the award or your high school/college if you were a student there when you won the award. My high school has a giant bell tower filled with trophies and the historical society accepts them for donation. If you have an Emmy, Oscar, Pulitzer, Nobel Prize, or Olympic medal, I know these make great gifts to friends and family members. I have a friend with one of his uncle’s Emmy awards and he displays it like it’s his own.
Jeannine, I hope this helps to answer your questions! Thank you for your submission. If our readers have more suggestions, please add them to the comments.
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