What to Do With Your Stuff

As part of our 40 Bags in 40 Days challenge I have had many people ask me:

so when I fill my bags with stuff, what do I do with them?

This is a very good question, and the answer is actually going to vary from person to person. What you do with your stuff depends on YOU, your situation, and the stuff you are decluttering. As for me, I use all of the methods below depending on the item and situation. Here are my suggestions and guidelines, I’ve also added in a section on reader suggested places! great post!! a list of what to do with stuff you are decluttering.

Craigslist / Ebay / Amazon / Local Facebook groups

These are my favorite options because you can get money back for your items. However, there is work involved. You need to take a picture, sign up for an account, post the item online, and hope somebody buys it. If you are listing on Craigslist you are bound to get some spam. If someone buys it, you have the hassle of getting them the item (either by mail or in-person). My personal guidelines are as follows:

  • Can I get $30+ for this?
  • Is it too big to fit in my vehicle? (If it fits, I usually donate it.)
  • If mailing, is this under 10 lbs? (If heavier, sell local.)

I have had a lot of success with furniture or large lots of children’s clothing. I would definitely explore this option if you have some high valued items or need to reclaim some space.

Freecycle

This is becoming increasingly popular in many areas. It’s essentially a local group of people that recycle items from person to person for no compensation. There is usually an email that goes out anytime someone is offering something. People will respond to the email and you can arrange pickup with one of the people. It’s a great way to get rid of items that are still in good condition, while helping someone else in need. Head to Freecycle.org to find a group near you. You also might be able to find a Facebook freecycle group for your area. Ask nearby friends or neighbors, or do a search.

Family / Friends

This is my favorite! We give a lot of stuff to people we know. We have also gotten a lot of stuff from people we know. This is an excellent option for furniture, decor baby items, kids clothes, and pretty much anything else. I also do this with fun, vintage items or decor that I don’t need or have a spot for but know someone else would like in their home. Ask your friends/family to look around and “shop” your home. Don’t be afraid to tell them no if you still want it, but let them know that if you DO get rid of it, they get dibs. Also keep an eye out if you see or hear of someone that seems to be struggling. Don’t make them feel bad or like a charity case, but mention that you have something (say, baby clothes) and ask if they would be interested in them. You reaching out might make a world of difference to them. NOTE, very imporant: If you do give something to family, make sure it truly is something that you don’t need back. I haven’t had a bad experience with this, but this is the stuff fights are made of. If you are agreeing to give something away, know that accidents happen and it might not come back in perfect condition. If you are okay with letting it go or replacing, then let them use it. For me, I don’t mind replacing big baby items because I shop garage sales and can get a replacement. If you don’t feel this way (and that’s okay!), don’t let them borrow it. If you are okay with letting it go or replacing, then move forward with it.

Goodwill

This is pretty convenient as there are many Goodwill locations throughout the country. I feel like I need to mention this separately because there are rumors and a lot of controversy going around about them across social media. Here is a Snopes article on salaries of charitable organizations and here is what they have to say on their site. Despite the CEO’s salary or what you may hear, Goodwill IS a 501(c)3  Non-profit organization meaning that everything you give to them is tax deductible. Make sure to get a receipt, keep track of what you gave (snap a picture of the items if you can), and write it off on your taxes. They also contribute to other local organizations, and are a good source for entry level jobs and jobs for people with disabilities. One of the biggest benefits is that they provide low cost items to many people in need. I donate to Goodwill quite often because with four kids, it is easy to drive through and make a stop when running errands.

Other Non-profit Organizations

There are many other organizations (also tax deductible) that are good places to give your stuff. These places include Salvation Army, Purple Heart Veterans, Red Cross, The United Way, not to mention the less well known ones that do just as much to help people (if not more!). If you have any suggestions for good, local places to donate, please comment with the company name and location!

Reader Suggestions 

Please call first to any of the following places to see if they are in need of certain items, when they take donations, or for more information.

  • Pregnancy resource centers (pregnancy or baby items)
  • Animal shelters (old blankets, towels, rags, t-shirts)
  • Homeless shelters (anything, toiletries, cold weather gear)
  • Food banks, soup kitchens (non-expired food)
  • “Dress for Success” or local based places that accept clothing for those heading into the work force
  • Women’s Shelter or Domestic Violence Shelter
  • Libraries (eyeglasses, magazines, books, CDs, DVDs, etc – bonus, you can check them out!)
  • Schools or teachers (organizing supplies, school supplies, books, crafts)
  • Local scouting troops (crafts, other supplies)
  • Nursing home (extra flowers, costume jewelry, magazines, books, other media, crafts, new toiletries)
  • St. Vincent de Paul charities
  • Habitat for Humanity Restores (unused or new building supplies, furniture)
  • Preschools (craft supplies, books)
  • Doctors’ Offices (toys or books in good condition)
  • Soles 4 Souls
  • Veterans organizations or charities
  • United Cerebral Palsy
  • local Ronald McDonald House
  • USO’s
  • Deseret Industries
  • The Rebecca Foundation (cloth diapers for low income families)
  • School nurses (extra clothing for accidents)

 

Church (religious charities)

This is another tax deductible choice for donating items. In addition to the typical annual rummage sale fund-raiser, many churches work with local homeless shelters and foster care homes to provide less fortunate people with the items they need. Most of the time, proceeds go to a good use helping those less fortunate than us.

Consignment / thrift stores

These are very similar to Goodwill, except some of them will actually buy your stuff from you. The downside is that they usually don’t take everything and the amount they pay is typically nominal. Either way, you will benefit by helping a small business and getting rid of your stuff.

Garage Sale

If you have time, I would recommend hosting a garage sale. The good news: You can get money for your stuff. The bad news: You will invest a lot of time, and most of your stuff wont sell (you will have to find a place to donate the rest anyways). Another pro – most of the people shopping at garage sales usually can’t afford to buy everything new, so you are directly helping out people in your community. I love shopping garage sales and have enjoyed having them. If I have the time, this is my favorite option. Here are some posts on my garage sale finds, as well as my tips for garage sailingas I like to call it.

Recycle

If you have items that are paper, plastic, or glass, keep in mind that this can be recycled. Most areas have curbside pickup, if not there are usually nearby recycling centers. If you have any metal products, your nearby scrapyard will buy this from you. If you have old electronics, there are special places where these are recycled or disposed of properly.

Garbage

If the above options aren’t feasible, throw your stuff away. Don’t let the clutter get in the way of your life. Landfills have a bad connotation, but in recent years, there are great efforts underway to make them safer than in the past. For starters, environmental laws require landfills to be properly lined to prevent liquids from entering water sources. Some landfills are also implementing some innovative approaches for using non-recyclable trash residue to produce renewable energy and power homes. Remember to take any hazardous chemicals or unapproved items to the appropriate disposal sites, so they can be handled appropriately. These include paint, electronics, medicine, or old cleaning products. I have had a few people upset that I am advocating garbage, but that can’t be farther from the truth. I hope that through the 40 Bags in 40 Days challenge that you find that you need less and therefore you consume less. While you might need to throw some things in the garbage, I would hope that this is a small percentage. If it is hard for you to donate, then just get it out. Do not let your things consume you!  

What do you do with your stuff?

If you have any great charities to donate to or recommendations, leave em in the comments!

Comments

  1. Hannah says

    Please think twice before donating books, magazines, etc to your local library. Every year at this time we get cartons of old textbooks, encyclopedias, workbooks, torn magazines & yellow-with-age paperbacks left on our library’s doorstep. Even if you have books in good condition, ask us if we want them. We may suggest other places for them – for example printed matter with colorful photos can be offered to pre-schools for collages, etc. Today 3 boys came to our library & asked to take paper from our recycling bin to shred for confetti – we were happy to help them!

    • Liz says

      I’m a librarian and I second what Hannah says. We don’t need old textbooks, computer manuals from 1996, yellowed paperbacks or torn magazines. I recommend recycling them.

      We *do* need books, DVDs, books on CD in good condition.

      Glasses should be donated to the Lion’s Club or your local optometrist’s office.

  2. says

    HeARTS,inc. is a great place to donate unused instruments, dance wear and shoes, costumes, puppets, art supplies – anything to do with visual and performing arts. heARTS will get items to kids who lack access to the Arts. Go to http://www.hearts4arts.org for more info or to make a request online if you have a need.

  3. Margaret says

    We donate clothing, shoes, coats etc first, give away next and take many other items to the auction. WHY the auction? Because I use those $$ to replace broken items or malfunctioning items such as window blinds, fresh coat of paint and a computer guy to come install my wireless printer since I can’t seem to make it work. But buy NOTHING to come back in my home that isn’t necessary.

  4. says

    My family prefers to donate to the American Kidney Foundation, AKF. Best part is, they will come by your house & pick up your stuff (clothes, furniture, etc) right from your front porch. Just call them & arrange a pickup date. No need to even be home!

  5. bob says

    With either Craigslist or kijiji, there are local listings. I use the local kijiji pretty much exclusively for objects if value. Though I have a car, I specify “cash and carry”, and thus does not present a problem. I have had people drive up to an hour to get here to pick up. I sometimes get my price firm, depending on the response to the ad, but I’m almost always prepared to negotiate a little.
    For items that are more challenging to sell, there’s always Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore, or Goodwill.

  6. jenn says

    The only kind of glass that can be recycled is what has been in your pantry. Canning jars, dishes, and glassware are made from a different type of glass that cannot be recycled with the other types of glass.

      • jenn says

        I have a separate pantry for my home-canned items but good point!

        To clarify: commercially processed food items that come in single-use glass containers.

        Why? Canning jars are made from a glass that is intended to withstand multiple thermal shock cycles.

  7. says

    Toys and games can also be given to Shriner’s Hospitals for Children, which is also a 501c3, so your donation is tax deductible. There are 22 hospitals across the US and Canada, and more are opening on other continents soon. Our hospitals have the very best orthopedic surgeons and treatment for orthopedic issues in children. We also provide treatment for spinal cord injuries, cleft palate surgery, and have burn treatment centers with the best pediatricians available. Our doctors train 95% of the pediatricians in the USA. If you know a child that needs help, visit http://www.shrinershospitalsforchildren.org.

  8. Stephanie says

    Your local Red Cross will take intact magazines. They’re great for people to read in the waiting room, while doing apheresis, etc. They’ll also accept DVD’s for the apheresis folks (apheresis is donating platelets. It takes an hour or so.)

    Also check with your local rape crisis center about donating clothing. I was a hospital crisis counselor, and when a woman came in for a rape exam we sometimes had to keep her clothes as evidence; and sometimes they understandably could not bear the idea of putting their clothes from the attack on again. We also needed soap and shampoo for the woman to shower after her exam. The local Junior League used to ask their members to save the hotel soap & shampoo when they traveled, and they’d send us a bunch twice a year. It was immensely helpful.

    We were going to recycle our old stove, but since we don’t have a truck the process was getting to be complicated. Metal recyclers don’t come for pickup for less than 1,000 pounds. Thank you, Freecycle! A young couple was thrilled to come get it. No cash back or tax receipt for us, but we were happy to know it wasn’t going into a landfill and that we were really helping someone out.

  9. says

    Our Goodwill will pick up as well. I am doing the challenge and I scheduled a pick up for a week ago. I didn’t have to load up everything in the car and it gave me a little push to try to find more things to donate. You don’t have to have a large donation for them to pick up either!

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