Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Getting rid of stuff

I am absolutely fanatical about decluttering. A big part of the effort of decluttering is what to do with the clutter. You can toss it, but this is wasteful for items that are useful to someone (just not you). Further, many items are worth money to someone; anyone who has held a yard sale knows that people will pay for things that many would consider valueless. So, what to do with your clutter?
  • Hold a yard sale (aka a tag sale). This is the tried-and-true method; however, it requires a lot of work, and worse, a lot of saving up your clutter until you have a critical mass that is worth yard-saling. This is probably still the most expedient, if not the most profitable, if you happen to have a lot of clutter all at once (e.g. if you are about to move).
  • eBay. If you are, more typically, parting with just a few items at a time, you can auction them on eBay. This is particularly well-suited to items whose value you really aren't sure about; if it is something that more than one of the many eBay visitors wants, the auction process tends to produce a fair price. Packing and shipping is a bit of a hassle, but it's manageable if you don't have too much stuff. Of course, this isn't really practical for large, unwieldy items like furniture that are impractical to ship.
  • Marketplace. You may have noticed that when you look at most items on Amazon, there is a button on the right that says, "Buy it Used." Those used items are being sold by regular people just like us. Just set up a marketplace account, list your items, and ship them when (if) they sell. Amazon pays you your sale price, minus a commission, plus a shipping allowance based on the size/weight of the item (which, of course, they already know). This is good for commodity items whose price is easy to establish, such as books and electronics.
If, for whatever reason, the item isn't worth selling (its value is low, or it can't be shipped), but it's too good to be trash, there are several options for just getting rid of it that are better than putting things in the trash.
  • FreeCycle. This is an email-based organization that connects people with stuff to give away with people who want that stuff and are willing to come get it. The web site hooks you up with your local organization(s), where you then sign up for an emailing list. People send to the list when they have something to give away, choose which of the respondents to give it to, and you go get it. This is great for hard-to-move stuff, since you can insist that the receiver move it from where it sits.
  • Charity. Certainly the most noble way to get rid of it, but typically you have to do the schlepping. Some organizations (e.g. in my area, Salvation Army) will pick up, but typically they want you to either have a lot of stuff or stuff of some clear value (e.g. decent furniture). Plus, there is often a long wait until the next pickup. However, stuff that's easy to move (and often, a piece at a time, low in value) is generally appreciated by someone. We give clothes, shoes, blankets, and the like to women's or homeless shelters. Low-value books like paperbacks go to the local public library, who sells them.
Go to it! You packrats out there, I cannot express how satisfying it is to live a clutter-free life.



    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:39 PM  

  • I am stuck. I have discarded on and off for 4+ years. I am facing another unpredicted move. The last one was horrrific, eventhough I had de-bulked allot. What to do ? I have 2 - 4 weeks to move and start a new job, and am exhausted just thinking about it.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:47 PM  

  • I found a local restaurant to provide me many empty boxes. I set them up, about four them at a time (session), tops open, waiting. Then I go from room to room with a laundry basket, tossing in everything I am through with. Goal: major donation to a community charitable organization by mid-April. No more caretaking. Out it goes! Already have about thirty boxes, neatly packed and sealed (so there will be no peeking nor backsliding). Cannot tell you how good it feels to see the stuff getting ready to march out the door come April. All best of luck to anyone getting free of clutter and stuff that just isn't being used, no matter how good the intentions. They have to take it all, unopened, and sort it all out on their end of things. That is the only condition for accepting the donation. Everything donated is no longer watched over. You can stop caretaking anything you give away. When the whole donation has been accepted and driven off the premises, I treat myself and my life partner to a free dinner at the same restaurant which donated all those boxes! Thanks for reading my post, and Good Luck to you on your own adventure with clutter. Chris in South Portland, Maine, U.S.A. (I am 64.)

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:15 PM  

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