I feel like I’ve spent my 40’s getting rid of all of the crap I bought in my 20’s and 30’s. While throwing items away would be the easiest way to get rid of it, I feel really bad throwing good items in the trash. Whenever I want to get rid of something that still has some usefulness, I feel obligated to find a home for it.
You’d be surprised what people will take if you offer it to them for free and take the time to find the right person who needs it.
I’ve become a regular on ebay, Craigslist, and my local Buy Nothing Project Facebook group. Selling or giving away stuff to individuals can take a lot of time, but I feel we are obligated to keep our things out of the landfill as long as possible. Here are some responsible ways to get rid of stuff you’re not using anymore.
Selling Your Items
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 quick 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 fairly high resale value.
Okay, here are some ways to make money from your items:
Since it has a nationwide audience and the most buyers, eBay will usually bring in the highest prices for your stuff. However, selling on ebay takes a considerable amount of time and effort.
In addition to doing good photography, you’ll have to carefully pack and ship the items, so I only use this for things that will bring in a significant amount of money to make it worth my trouble. Big things like furniture are best sold on Craigslist. ebay is great for smaller more valuable items like collectibles, valuable artwork, good electronic equipment, and so forth, and you’ll probably get more for them on ebay than on Craigslist, since ebay is nationwide. Read my eBay tips here.
I sell bulky and lower-value items on Craigslist. Search to see if similar items are on sale there to see if it viable. I usually price a bit below what I see so that it moves fast. Note that you’ll have to take good photos of your gear and take time dealing with interested buyers.
I personally have sold thousands of dollars worth of stuff on Craigslist, most of which was music equipment which has a good re-sale value. Old furniture, you might have to give away for free. Read my Craigslist selling tips here.
3. Facebook Marketplace
I have had good results on Facebook Marketplace when eBay and Craigslist have failed me. It’s good for big items like furniture that must be picked up in person.
Or, you can simply post stuff on your timeline for your friends to browse.
4. Used / vintage / consignment clothing stores
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.
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. Specialty stores – used CD and book stores
I used to have a ton of CD’s. 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. If you have really valuable clothing, you can try selling it at a consignment store.
7. 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, with a small amount of monetary earnings as a perk.
Giving 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; an appalling percentage of items donated to Goodwill (especially clothing) and other donation centers are 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!
If you’re apprehensive about meeting strangers on Craigslist, I find this to be a safer-feeling alternative, because the Facebook groups are confined to your neighborhood, and you can see their Facebook profile before deciding on who to give to.
A non-Facebook version of this 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.
1. The free section on Craigslist
Craigslist 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 shipping 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!
3. 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, donation to a thrift store can be good. And, you get a tax writeoff!
4. 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
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.
I’ve read that only 1/3 of the items on thrift store shelves eventually gets sold, and the fraction of total items donated that gets sold is even smaller. But, if your items are sellable, then by all means, drop them off at one of these organizations!
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.
Consider Re-using Your Items
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