Figure Out How to Get Rid of Your Stuff: Questions To Ask Yourself
Once you’ve sorted through your stuff, you might find yourself with a huge pile of stuff that now needs a home. And, this is where a lot of us get stuck. How do we actually get this stuff out of our homes? We have a bunch of options, but what is the right option? Should you try selling your stuff? Should you donate it all? Should you toss it in the trash? There’s not a one-size-fits-all approach for various items.
Should you toss your clutter?
The environmental side of me cringes at the thought, but there simply ARE some items that need to be tossed. They’ve lived their last life. Just make sure an item truly is worth of the trash/recycle bin. Here are a few things to consider:
- Can this item be recycled? If you can recycle an item or material, do so before just lazily dumping it in your trash can. Sometimes there are obscure items like electronics, for example, that require recycling at a specific location and require some research.
- Can this item be used by someone else? There are tons of zero waste groups in communities, as well as people looking for miscellaneous items in your area. If you think someone might find a use for it, it could be worth posting on Facebook Marketplace, Facebook Groups, Zero Waste Groups, or sites like Craigslist to see if someone wants them. The old adage that your trash is someone else’s treasure may certainly be true.
- Can this item be simply thrown away? Sometimes the answer is NO. Chemicals, electronics, paint and more should be disposed of in a proper manner. Many local communities have drop off days throughout the year, or specific locations to drop these items off at. Be careful not to throw away items that truly are dangerous to toss in the regular trash.
- Is the trash the real spot this clutter should go? Sadly, yes, there are situations where items are broken, unusable, or dangerous to try to reuse or repurpose. When you’ve exhausted your other options, the trash can may be the home for that item.
Should you donate your clutter?
Often after a huge decluttering session, the simple answer is to box it all up and drop it off at your local thrift store. The problem here is that most thrift stores are overburdened with too many donations, and they end up throwing away a TON of stuff that people drop off that really is worthless to resell. So, it’s pretty clear that not everything should be donated.
A few questions to ask yourself:
- Is this stained or broken? Don’t give thrift stores items that are junk. They don’t have the bandwidth to figure out what to do with stained and broken items that still have a purpose, but don’t fit their purpose (which is to resell them). Consider instead if these items should be given away for free or repurposed as rags or other uses.
- Is it sellable? Items that are incomplete or not sellable should never be given to donation sites. For example, you might have a bike that is pretty scratched up and has a broken chain. For most thrift stores and donation sites, this item would be considered garbage because they don’t have the capacity to do anything with it. However, many people are looking for bike parts and you could sell or give away parts of the bike through other venues.
- Could I sell this instead? Before parting with your treasures, take stock to see if there’s anything in the pile that really needs to be sold as a standalone item. Perhaps you have an antique or memorabilia that is worth some money. It might be worth your time to sell that item instead.
- Does my family REALLY want this? One common way to donate items is to see if a friend or family member could use it. As someone who gladly accepted a ton of baby hand-me-downs for our kiddo, I will say that this option is often a really great thing to do and can be a wonderful way to pass along family heirlooms, or quality items. Just make sure what you’re giving away is worth passing along, and also is something that person will appreciate.
Should you sell your clutter?
One popular solution to clearing the clutter out of your home is to sell it. Often, this is a great option because you can actually make some good money. Whether it’s a garage sale; selling on a site like Craigslist, ebay, or Facebook Groups; or you research dealers/consignment shops, you have options. But is it the right approach for you?
- Do you have time for this? Selling your items takes time. You’ll need to take quality photos, create the listings, communicate and meet with potential buyers, and field questions. All of this requires time. Before you go this route, be realistic with yourself about if this is something you even have the time for.
- Do you have items of value? If you have lots of small items, you might be better off donating them. However, if you have valuable, or larger items (furniture, art, etc), it is usually worth the effort to post the item for sale.
- Is it a hot item? Watching sites like Craigslist, you can start to identify the types of things that sell really well and the things that linger. For example, we purchased an indoor spin cycling bike, and when we upgraded, I knew that we’d sell the used one in a snap. Sure enough, I had ten people interested within an hour of posting it for sale. On the other hand, there are just some things that I see posted for sale used and I wonder who would ever buy that. A used toilet is one of those things.
As you go through this process, you quickly realize that every item you bring into your home bears some responsibility and costs you something (whether money, time, emotional energy, etc.). As a steward of this earth, we all carry the responsibility to make smart decisions of how we dispose of our clutter. As we walk through this process, let us become more and more aware of this responsibility before we bring new items into our lives in the future.