Wednesday, December 6, 2017

What To Do With the Stuff You Declutter

This post may contain affiliate links. 

I really like taking this time of year to declutter things.  Christmas brings an influx of new stuff so it's always a good idea to take stock before that happens and start to clear out anything that no longer suits you.  That way, you won't be totally overwhelmed by a lack of space when new things come in.  And while it might be easy for you to decide what to get rid of, it's not always so easy to decide what to do with it once you know it has to leave your house.  I think that's a big roadblock for people, not wanting to just trash something that's still perfectly usable.  I don't want you to trash it either!  One huge selling point of decluttering and minimalism is that you're ending the cycle of consumer wastefulness, so it makes no sense just to send everything to the landfill when it has more life left in it.  Just recognize that it doesn't have life left in it for you, and send it off to someone who can use it.

This doesn't have to trip you up though - there are so many great methods of passing along these items that don't end with them being in the garbage.  Here's a few of the ways you can remove your clutter while giving it a second life somewhere else:


Animal Shelters.  You'd be surprised how much animal shelters need - blankets, cleaning supplies, towels, heating pads, office supplies, pet food, some will even take car donations.  Call your local shelter to find out what they need.

Operation Paperback Donate your gently used books to soldiers.  You sign up and get the addresses to send them to, so you know you're sending them directly to troops overseas yourself.

Cell Phones for Soldiers.  They take old cell phones and tablets, which are then sold (either for refurbishment or parts.)  The proceeds are used to buy international calling cars for overseas soldiers to use on military approved devices (because typical cell phones can be a hazard, they aren't always allowed.)

Vietnam Veterans of America.  Vietnam Veterans of America works like your typical local charity shop, in that they accept clothing and household goods - they'll even accept cars and they come to you to pick everything up, you schedule it online.  They provide a myriad of services to veterans, like jobs, health care access, and even government work on their behalf.

Local Schools and Libraries.  It's no secret that schools and teachers are horribly under-funded, under-staffed, under-paid.  You can help a lot by donating things that classrooms need, like art supplies, school supplies like folders and notebooks, calculators, etc.  Local libraries will also happily take your books.

Furniture Banks Donate gently used furniture and household goods to a furniture bank near you, and they'll offer it at little to no cost to families who have no furniture of their own.  Use that site to find one near you and they'll come and pick up your donation.

Thrift Shops.  Use TheThriftShopper to find one near you - it also tells you about the mission and practices of each shop, as some are more profit-based than others (Goodwill isn't the greatest, for example, but if you have to get rid of stuff and they're the best option near you, just do it.)


ThredUp.  If you're wanting to get rid of clothing but struggling with how much you spend on it, you can try to get some money back through ThredUp.  Just request a bag and they'll send it to you.  Fill it, put the pre-paid label on it, send it back, and you'll get a few dollars.  You don't get as much money as if you sell your items one at a time, like Poshmark, but if you're overwhelmed by quantity of clothes to declutter then this is a good place to start.  This link will get you $10 off if you want to order something, but remember we're talking about getting stuff out, not bringing it in!

Ebay.  Ebay is more akin to Poshmark, where you're going to have to sell items one at a time, but it's ideal if you have items worth some money, like gently used designer purses.  You can also sell CDs and DVDs by the lot (a large group of them) so you don't have to spend as much time on it.

SellCell.  If you're not donating or trading in, you can sell smart phones and other devices to and make a pretty decent profit from them.

SellBackBooks.  No one rips you off like selling your textbooks back to the bookstore.  If you have these lying around, try selling them here first, you'll get way more money back.

Amazon You can also sell items on Amazon, without having to have a store.  If you have a big ticket item like a camera, you can search for it on Amazon and when you find it, you'll see two options.  One for selling to Amazon for a gift card, which is immediate and they'll give you a price right there, or 'have one to sell?' in which case you can list your item for other Amazon shoppers to buy.

Once Upon a Child.  They'll buy your gently used kid's clothing and toys.  I also wanted to mention that, if your kid is old enough to understand that toys are leaving, make them part of the process.  They don't always understand the abstract idea of 'some kids don't have what you have,' so show them.  Take them to volunteer at a soup kitchen.  You'll be surprised and inspired by how quickly they're then willing to part with toys.

Garage/Yard Sale.  This is the biggest time and energy undertaking, which is why I'd never do it myself.  I don't have the patience.  It's the best way to make money though, if you're dedicated.


Freecycle.  It's the free version of Craigslist.  Find the group near you to join (for free) and list anything you're willing to just let go of.  No, you don't get the tax write off of a donation, but you're still keeping things out of a landfill.  If you're just too overwhelmed to deal with all the items you have going out, give them away.

Earth911 Recycling isn't the best option but it's better than the trash.  And some things aren't destined for another life (medication, CFL bulbs, batteries, etc.)  But recycling these things isn't easy - they don't belong in your regular recycle bin, nor can they be thrown away.  Earth911 will tell you how and where you can take all of these things.

If you're staring down a large amount of clutter leaving your home, I highly recommend you simplify your chosen methods of stuff removal, rather than use this entire list.  Pick only two - for example having a garage sale, and then anything left goes straight to donation at the Salvation Army.  Having multiple strategies for things will make you crazy and it'll take much longer for things to leave your home.  If you have one pile for Ebay sales, one pile for animal shelter donations, one pile for give to friends, one for ThredUp - you can see how that will quickly devolve into chaos.  Only you know your limit for sorting and removing these things, so don't bite off more than you can chew.

Personally, I very rarely sell things anymore.  I did in the beginning, when I had more things to get rid of that were worth more money.  I could sell a lot of clothes at once to ThredUp, I could sell DVDs by the lot on Ebay, but now that it's usually just a couple of things at a time, I just choose to donate.  It helps immensely that our house is literally over the fence from the Salvation Army headquarters!  Anything that can go to an animal shelter does though, that's my preferred method.

I listed the ones I'm familiar with (and my preferred donations skew heavily in favor of animals and the military, yes!), but I know there's more - if you have a favorite, please add it in the comments for everyone to see.  What is your preferred method of getting things out of your home?  Any other resources you want to add to this list?

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