The final step in uncluttering

If you’re one of the many people who has resolved to get uncluttered this year, you may wind up with lots of stuff that you’ve decided can leave your home or office. Now what? Where can these things actually go?

Sell your stuff

If you can get enough money for your items, it may be worth your time to sell them.

Garage sales or yard sales have a social aspect that some people enjoy. Proper preparation will help you get the best results. Before you have one, though, be sure to check your local homeowner’s association bylaws and municipal laws and ordinances to learn if they are permitted and, if they are, if there are restrictions on dates, times, locations, and collection of taxes/fees.

Online sales through sites like Craigslist (if you want to stay local), eBay, and give you a wider audience. There are also specialty sites for selling items like wedding gowns. Again, you’ll want to be sure to follow the best practices for using each of these sites. For example, Man vs. Debt has some advice about using Craigslist.

There are also buyers for specific types of items. Books, CDs, vinyl records, china, designer clothes, sports equipment, and cell phones are just some of the things that specialty stores and/or websites will take. If you’re trying to reduce the quantity of things you own, you may want to look for places that will buy for cash, not just provide store credit.

And, if you have something you know (or suspect) may have some significant value, you may want to check with a certified appraiser.

Donate your stuff

Sometimes getting the tax deduction for donating your items seems better than going through the effort of selling them — plus you can help a good cause. Check carefully as to what each group accepts; you may be surprised both at what won’t be accepted and what will. Groups like Goodwill and Vietnam Veterans of America take a large number of items. Many local charities have thrift stores to help support their work, and they take a large number of items, too.

There also are places to donate specific types of goods, too. For example, many cities have organizations that collect clothes and accessories appropriate for the workplace. Your local humane society or pet rescue group may want things like old blankets, sheets, and towels. And some cities have charities that collect art and craft supplies for teachers and artists.

Give things away

If you have things you know a friend or relative would appreciate, you can pass them along. People have also had success offering things to the members of their parents’ group or other such communities.

You can give to strangers by putting things out on the curb with a “free” sign (if you live in a high volume location and it’s legal where you live) or leave them in a common area in your apartment building (if that’s allowed).

You also can use groups such as Freecycle, or you can use the Free section of Craigslist. And some people have used their Facebook pages or their blogs to offer things to others.

Recycle your things, or dispose of them safely

Some things just aren’t in any condition to be sold or even donated, but can still be recycled; common categories include paper, cans, and glass. And some things are toxic and need to be disposed of properly, like batteries, household hazardous waste, and prescription medicines. Check to see how such items are handled in your specific locale. Many hospitals and pharmacies will accept old medications to destroy, but call first to learn of their exact policies.

Earth911 has a database to help you find places to recycle a wide variety of materials through the United States. Your local city or county government, or your local trash collector, may also have useful information. And your local professional organizer probably knows good places to sell, donate, or recycle almost anything you have.

Move things out!

Sometimes people get held up by trying to find the absolute best home for everything they are purging. This can make sense if you have a small number of items, or some very special things. But, if you’re doing a major uncluttering project, you may want to cut yourself some slack. Instead of looking at each item of clothing and figuring out if you know anyone who’d like it, take those 9 bags to Goodwill or a local charity’s thrift shop.

7 Comments for “The final step in uncluttering”

  1. posted by Sinea Pies on

    I love hearing about the final step of uncluttering. You have then ARRIVED! That is where I want to be. Today, my office! Tomorrow? The world? (OK…too lofty. Maybe my bedroom. LOL)

  2. posted by adora on

    Some people on Freecycle can be so unreasonable that you just want to throw your stuff in garbage. You can end up wasting your time for people who don’t show up. My advice is to always do it in your own terms. I would wait until I have at least 10-20 items or boxes of stuff to give out. List them and destinate a block of time in which you would give them out. If they can’t show up during those few hours, give them to someone who can.

  3. posted by Andrea on

    I have basically just given up on selling items unless they are small and valuable (say, over $50). I find the time, hassle, etc just aren’t worth it for anything else. i used to hold things because they ‘had value’, but i realized if i didn’t actually want them, then they had no value to me. i would just donate them and let some lucky person at the thrift store feel like they scored (i have felt like that before, so, hey, pass it on.) i figure the space it takes up in my home has value as well which is negated by holding on to it. so out it goes to Goodwill!

  4. posted by Anna on

    I’m with Andrea about donating items of relatively small value rather than selling them. Holding stuff that “has value” can become a real drag. My extremely thrifty mother used to say “everything costs in time, energy, or money, and sometimes money is the least expensive.” If holding any particular item is an emotional and energetic drag, then it makes sense to get it out of the house ASAP by any means. The boost to personal well-being is worth it.

  5. posted by Jessica on

    I had problems with Freecycle a few years ago. I had a member stalk my house and steal a package from my porch. The person admitted to the theft (the package wasn’t worth a lot, thankfully) and the moderator refused to kick the thief out of the group. Instead, the moderator told me to “be nice and work it out”. I chose to rescind my membership.

    If it’s an edible item, coupons, or something along those lines, my husband takes it to work and leaves it in the breakroom. I’ve done this with tea bags, free samples, etc.

    If it can be recycled, I do that.

    If the shelter will take it, I drop it off once I have a full box or more.

    If the thrift store takes it, I arrange for a pickup once I have a few bags worth.

  6. posted by Laurie Buchanan on

    yes, Yes, YES! As a dyed in the wool minimalist, I resonated with this post.

    And if LESS IS MORE (which I truly believe), then conversely MORE IS LESS.

  7. posted by Pam R on

    I agree with Andrea, too. I have found a lot of things of value (to me) at thrift stores and have decided that it’s now my turn to donate back and let someone else find some of my donated treasures. Like my deceased aunt’s green Depression glass dessert plates. I held on to these for so long because of nostalgia and possible value. But green glass plates do not go in my blue- and rose-colored rooms, and truthfully, I didn’t really like them. So HARD to make these decisions, but so important!

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