Tip of the Month: 10 Ways to Get Rid of Your Stuff
You've decided you're ready to part with some of your stuff - now what? This can be a stumbling point for many people, so let me help with a list of your many options.
1. Turn it into something new.
For example, those old t-shirts can be made into quilts. And you don't have to be a skilled craftsperson; a number of people will make those quilts for you.
Caution: If you are a person who loves crafts, make sure you don't accumulate a bunch of "someday" projects that will probably never be done.
2. Sell it.
If you think an item might be valuable, it might be wise to get an appraisal. Alternatively, you could look at the listings on eBay for things that have sold (called completed listings); you'll need to be a registered user to use this feature.
If the money you'll make is worth the effort of finding a buyer, selling stuff can be a good alternative. You have a number of ways to sell; for example, you can:
- Work with an auction house.
- Work with a consignment store.
- Sell on eBay.
- Use an eBay seller to make the sale for you, for a commission.
- Sell on craigslist.
- Sell to a business that deals in your specific type of product: a used bookstore, for example.
- Have a garage sale, a yard sale, a tag sale - whatever it's called in your part of the world.
- Use the services of someone who conducts garage sales for you, for a commission.
Caution: Don't let things languish forever, for the garage sale you're going to have someday.
3. Swap it.
There are a number of on-line swap sites for all sorts of things: books, CDs, toys, etc. And there are clothing swaps and other such events held in various places.
Caution: If you feel you have currently have way too much stuff, a swap that gets you more stuff might not be the best answer.
4. Give it to a specific individual: a relative, a neighbor, a co-worker, a friend.
If you are sure - or pretty darn sure - someone would really love a given item, by all means give it to that person! Either set it aside in whatever place you use to collect future gifts (if it's the kind of thing you'd give as a gift), or make plans to get the item to that someone in the near future.
Alternatively, you could give things away to friends without knowing in advance who would want what; two sisters had a give-away party to dispose of some of their mother's items after she passed away, and it's a heartwarming story.
5. Donate it to a good cause - and take the tax write-off for the donation.
The options here are numerous; I know about 200 places in the San Francisco Bay Area to donate things, and your area is likely to have a wide range of places looking for donations, too. There are also places to mail in donations of various things; you might want to use these either to support a specific cause, or to find a new home for some harder-to-place types of items. Please do check to make sure the organization can use the type of item you've got.
6. Give it away on Freecycle.
I've written about Freecycle before; it's a resource I use almost weekly to help clients find new homes for their stuff. I like using Freecycle for the odd things that are less likely to be wanted by thrift stores and such. Some of the many things I've given away on Freecycle just in the past few weeks include: a slide rule, three packages of Dentyne gum, leftover supplies for a baby boy shower, and a VHS tape rewinder.
7. Recycle it.
Recycling options vary tremendously from place to place; be sure you know your local regulations. If it's paper you're planning on recycling, be sure to shred anything with confidential information. In my city, I can recycle shredded paper as long as it's placed in a paper bag rather than a plastic one.
8. Dispose of it properly as hazardous waste.
Items such as garden chemicals, pool chemicals, paint, cleaning products, mercury thermometers, batteries, and cell phones are likely to need special attention. Again, check the regulations in your area.
9. Use a hauling company.
Some of these (such as EcoHaul, in the San Francisco Bay Area) will donate as much as they can, minimizing how much winds up in landfill - and will provide you with a receipt for tax purposes.
10. Resign yourself to the fact that it needs to go to landfill, and put it in the trash.
Even Grist, the environmental news and commentary site, says, "If you've called your municipal recycling experts and Googled all over the place, consider that you've done your best and call it a day."
Organizing Quote of the Month
Find out what your local charity needs, THEN go on a clutter hunt in your home! ... There is something about knowing that right now in my town, there are battered women and children, or people who suffered fires, floods or other disasters, who urgently need specific things to get their lives together that makes me want to go through everything I own - and give away anything and EVERYTHING I'm not using!
-- Ariane Benefit, who wrote a whole blog post on this subject
Organizing Product of the Month