I feel like I’m spending my 40s and 50s getting rid of all of the crap I bought in my 20s and 30s. While throwing items away would be the easiest way to get rid of them, I’d feel really bad throwing good items in the trash. I feel obligated to find homes for them.
So, I’ve become a regular on eBay and Facebook Marketplace to sell things that still have value.
To get rid of items I can’t sell, I love my local Buy Nothing Project Facebook group. It’s an unbeatable way to quickly give away stuff to folks in your community who want it. You’d be surprised what people will take if you take the time to find the right person who needs it.
Giving stuff to Goodwill or a donation center is good, but they actually end up throwing out a lot of the items they receive. Finding an individual who wants your items can take a lot of time, but it’s really the best way to make sure your items get a second life and don’t end up in a landfill (at least not right away).
Here are some tips for selling and giving away items you don’t need anymore.
Selling Your Stuff
If you have the time, or if you need the money, and your stuff has value, you might be able to make a few bucks by selling it.
Most people think their stuff is worth more than it really is because they remember how much they paid for it. If you can let go of that, and price your items at the real market resale value, there is the opportunity to make some cash.
And as I mentioned, selling your stuff takes time. You might find it more worthwhile to just give away your stuff unless it has a fairly high resale value.
Okay, here are some ways to make money from your items:
1. eBay: Small Shippable Items
Since it has a nationwide audience and therefore the highest number of potential customers, eBay will usually bring in the highest prices for your stuff. However, selling on eBay takes a considerable amount of time and effort, and you have to wait for the auction to complete (usually 7 or 10 days).
I’ve found that modern electronics, camera equipment, and music equipment get good prices on eBay.
For best results, you’ll need to do good photography and carefully pack and ship the items, so I only use this for things that will bring in enough money to make it worth my while. eBay is great anything that you can ship relatively inexpensively. For big items, keep reading below. See my eBay selling tips here.
2. Facebook Marketplace: Large Items
Large, heavy items like furniture or big power tools don’t sell well on eBay due to expensive shipping costs. I sell those items locally using Facebook Marketplace, and have the buyers pick them up in person and pay cash after inspection.
This is a nail gun that I sold on Facebook Marketplace in one day:
Though not quite as bad as Craigslist, there are scammers on Facebook Marketplace. Be sure to look at the seller’s FB profile to see if they look legit. Avoid profiles with zero friends, no posts, etc. And beware of anyone who wants to pay with a cashier’s check or anything other than cash. When communicating on Facebook, ask a question like, “do you have any questions about the product?” Usually, a bot or scam account won’t answer questions properly.
Or, you can simply post stuff on your timeline for your friends to browse.
3. Nextdoor: Large Items
Nextdoor allows you to sell or give away items to your local community. It’s great for bulky household goods that are too big to ship on eBay. The ads are really simple compared to eBay, making them quick to set up. The reach is not as large as Facebook Marketplace, but there’s still good activity on this. My brother in New York City swears by Nextdoor for selling stuff there.
4. Used / Vintage / Consignment Stores: Clothing
If your clothes still have value, you might be able to sell them to a used or vintage clothing store. If you have expensive clothing to sell, look for a local consignment clothing store.
5. Offer Up: Large Items
There are phone apps like Offer Up that make it really easy to sell stuff to people in your area. There are not as many users as eBay and Craigslist, but they make the process very easy and convenient.
6. It’s Worth More: Electronics
itsworthmore.com specializes in buying used electronics such as cell phones and computers. You can get an instant quote and ship for free.
7. Specialty Stores: CDs, Books
I used to have a ton of CDs. I was able to sell about half of them to Second Spin and I donated the rest. I got anywhere from fifty cents to a few dollars for each CD (or double CD). I had hundreds of CDs, so it added up to the cost of a few really good meals at a nice restaurant!
If you have books, you can try selling them to a used bookstore.
8. Garage or Yard Sale
The keys to a successful yard sale are to make sure you get sufficient foot traffic and to price low. Don’t think of a garage sale as a way to make money. Instead, think of it as a donation of stuff to your community, and a way to de-clutter your life quickly, with a small amount of money as a perk.
9. Craigslist – No Longer Recommended Due to Scammers
In the past, I have sold thousands of dollars worth of stuff on Craigslist, most of which was music equipment that had good resale value. I’ve tried selling old furniture on Craiglist but most of the time I’ve had to give it away for free.
My love of Craiglist has diminished a lot due to the number of scammers on that platform, even if you’re trying to give something away for free! Read more about this in my Craigslist selling tips article. I go with eBay or Facebook Marketplace now.
Giving Your Stuff to Individuals
If your items are not valuable enough to sell, or if you just don’t have time to go through the hassles of selling, here are some ways to give your stuff away to individuals.
Although it’s more work, finding an individual who wants your items is more responsible than just dumping your stuff at Goodwill. As I mentioned, an appalling percentage of items donated to Goodwill (especially clothing) and other donation centers is thrown away.
1. The Buy Nothing Project on Facebook
The Buy Nothing Project is the best way I’ve found to find a home for almost any item you want to get rid of. It’s a Facebook group with members in your community who give stuff away, at no cost, to other members of the group. You’re not allowed to charge money or barter. Go to Facebook and search for “buy nothing” and the name of your city or town. There are groups for most large cities.
I’ve had great success giving away unlikely items such as a gallon of house paint, or a set of drawer knob pulls that no one was interested in on eBay. I was glad to find a home for these, even though I didn’t get any money for them.
You’ll be amazed at what you can give away. I’ve even seen half-consumed food items happily accepted!
I feel safer giving on Buy Nothing than on Craigslist because the Buy Nothing is confined to your neighborhood, and you can see everyone’s Facebook profile before deciding on who to give to.
2. Facebook Marketplace
You can also post free items on Facebook Marketplace! I’ve had good results there.
But, if your items are in good, sellable, condition, a donation to a thrift store can be good. And, you get a tax write-off!
Nextdoor.com is a social network for your neighborhood. Often people post things like burglaries, suspicious people, lost pets, and so on, but people also post when stuff is left in alleys or sidewalks for the taking. I had good results posting a potted tree that someone left in an alley. It was taken in a couple of days after I posted on Nextdoor, whereas there were no takers on Buy Nothing.
You can also sell stuff on Nextdoor.com, but I’d imagine it would need to be stuff with broad appeal.
A site solely dedicated to giving is Freecyle.org. Each city has its own section of the website where folks can post stuff they need or want to give up for free.
5. The Free Section on Craigslist
Although I no longer recommend Craigslist for selling (due to scammers), I still use them to give stuff away. It has a section for free stuff where you can move almost anything that isn’t good enough to sell. I’ve been amazed at what people will take when it’s free. I recently gave away some scrap lumber from garage shelving that I disassembled. I’m always glad someone can use it and it’s not going into landfills. Here’s a huge shipping flooring crate I was able to give away:
If you really want a no-hassle way to get rid of stuff, you can haul it into your alley in advance, then post a “curb alert” on Craigslist, first-come-first-serve. I don’t really recommend putting it on your front curb unless it’s for a really short time because that is a blight on your neighborhood.
I’ve also used Craigslist to post items that other people have abandoned in my neighborhood. Most recently this was a free-standing basketball pole and hoop that someone abandoned in my alley. I posted it and a happy dad took it away for his son!
6. Your Network of Friends
Can you think of anyone you already know who could use the item? Why not reach out to your friends on Facebook to see if anyone needs it? I was able to get rid of an old ceiling fan this way.
Thrift Stores / Goodwill / Salvation Army
I’ve read that only a small fraction of items donated to thrift stores actually gets sold. Unless the item is valuable, there’s a good chance it will end up in a dumpster. So, finding a person who is specifically interested in taking your items using the services above is a better way to ensure the item will get re-used.
But, if you just don’t have the time to find an individual to take your stuff, or if you just have too much of it, then dropping it off at a donation center like Goodwill or Salvation Army is better than throwing it away.
Specialty Recycling Services
Some items can’t be sold or given away. For these, then next most responsible thing to do is to recycle them.
Some communities, like Providence, RI, have a service where you can schedule a pickup of an old mattress, or you can drop it off at their facility. (I strapped it on top of my sedan!) Check out this link which describes how mattresses are recycled.
Plastic markers – Crayola
Crayola will recycle plastic markers of any brand, and they’ll pay for shipping! Check out the Crayola website for details.
Printer toner cartridges
Some manufacturers have a program to send back used toner cartridges for free. Or, you can turn them in to any Staples store. Or, make a few bucks with online services like TonerBuyer.com.
Hazardous Waste Disposal
You should not throw hazardous waste into your community’s regular trash system.
You’ll need to find a local hazardous waste disposal center to get rid of household chemicals, paint, batteries, fluorescent tubes, automotive fluids, and electronic equipment (which contain lead solder and other toxic substances). It is illegal in to throw hazardous waste in the trash.
Some cities have hazardous waste dropoff locations for residents. Santa Monica (where I live), will pick up the stuff at your door if you schedule it. I used this service to get rid of an old computer and other electronic items. Check with your local city or county.
A lot of old t-shirts I had were not in sellable condition. They would just be thrown out by a thrift store. So, I use these as rags to do household cleaning until they’re totally worn out, saving a bunch of paper towels! Same goes for old bathroom towels.
I hope this article has given you some ideas on how to responsibly get rid of stuff that you’re not using! Please leave your ideas in the comments below! – Brian