Anyone who’s been following me for some time might know that I’m a wannabe minimalist. It’s been over 2 years since I decided to “live with less”, and I STILL find that I have a bit too much stuff. Whether you’re doing some spring cleaning, starting to declutter, becoming a minimalist, moving, or whatever else, you might be asking yourself how to get rid of things!
The first tip I can give you is to STOP bringing things in! It’s easier said than done, but I’ve found tracking items that enter my home (in my Monthly Updates) has really opened my eyes and held me accountable. However, there will always be times that items make their way in (gifts, impulse purchases, free stuff, whatever!) so I find it necessary to declutter regularly.
Get Rid of Things by Selling Them
I think a big deterrent for most people, is that they don’t want to part with their stuff since they paid X amount of dollars. I read once that you should think of it another way, rather than saying “but I’ll lose X dollars if I get rid of this” you need to change your mindset to “I already lost X dollars when I bought it”.
There is no point in keeping something that doesn’t provide value to you now.
Of course, I’m in the camp of trying to at least recuperate a bit of my initial investment, especially for more expensive items.
Online Selling Options
Kijiji / Craig’s List / Online Classifieds:
Kijiji is the Canadian-equivalent to Craig’s List (we only have Craig’s List in a couple major locations) and I use it regularly to sell a variety of items. Basically, it’s a free classified site that allows you to create a listing, where you can post images of your item(s), a description, price, etc. Buyers can message or call you and choose a location to meet. There are a lot of categories to choose from, and I usually browse the site pretty regularly too (hence why I have a stuff surplus haha!).
Buy/Sell Facebook Groups:
There are certain Facebook Groups that are setup for buying and selling items (similar to an online classified site). You can usually find a few local groups in your area, and you post an image of your item, with a price, description etc. In my experience, a lot more people will reach out showing interest on Facebook, but I’ve had more actual sales through Kijiji.
I don’t really use any other website other than Kijiji and Facebook groups, but I have seen people sell things on online forums, shopify stores, personal websites. Keep in mind that you’ll want to use the source that you’ll get the most traction and that fits your items (ie: don’t try and sell a lawnmower on a baby site).
In-Person Selling Options
Yard sales are seasonally dependant and can definitely payoff when you’re trying to sell a large number of items. They may seem like a lot of extra work, but if you factor in all the photos you have to take when selling online, the communication back and forth, it may actually be easier to have a yard sale. Just remember to advertise it ahead of time, and joining with your neighbours or friends/family might be a good idea too. You can usually advertise yard sales for free on sites like Kijiji or even Facebook Groups (just make sure to follow each group’s rules).
One negative of yard sales is that you have to amass a large amount of stuff to make it worthwhile. If there are consignment stores in your area, you might be able to bring your items in regularly. Basically, they do all the work of displaying and selling the items and you would get a portion of the money afterwards (and be sure to find out ahead of time what kind of items they take).
Keep in mind that when you’re selling things, you will most likely not get the full original purchase amount. Depending on what the item is, the condition, age, and other factors, you should aim for about 50% as your starting price. I’ve found that some newer hardware/appliance type items might go for a bit more than 50%; but clothing and textiles usually go for much lower than that.
Get Rid of Things by Donating Them
I usually give myself a set period to sell an item, and if I don’t sell it by a certain time, then I donate it. There are also some items that I think would be more of a hassle to sell, so I usually donate them without even bothering (most clothing, some décor items, etc.). Here are a few resources that I’ve used for donating:
I do not mean trying to pass off your used items as gifts – but you can certainly ask around to see if anyone you know want’s item ABC. Actually, sometimes I will give my family something, but do let them know that “I had this at home and knew you wanted it”, or something like that. You see this a lot when people are moving into a new home, or moving away from their parents – people will often donate furniture or housewares that they no longer need.
I actually bring a lot of stuff to our local Habitat for Humanity Restore, and browse around pretty often too (I bought this stool at the ReStore!). It’s the perfect place for any DIY-er, because they mostly carry renovation-type products and you should definitely consider donating leftover project materials. Sometimes they’ll even pickup your items, so if you have anything that is in good condition, it’s a good idea to think about using the ReStore.
Our local thrift store donation centre is run by Diabetes Canada, and I’ll often donate regular household items and clothing. They actually have a promotion where you can save money in the store if you donate items, so it’s a good incentive to donate! Diabetes Canada also has a pickup service where you can schedule someone to pick up your items at home, and it’s SUPER convenient.
Local charitable groups are most likely looking for certain items at different times throughout the year (ex: mittens in winter). I don’t have too much info about donating to shelters, so it’s probably best to call ahead and see what your local groups are looking for.
I have not looked into it, but sometimes you can fill out a form for charitable donations of items, which might be tax deductible.
Get Rid of Things by Recycling/Trashing
Sometimes you have items that cannot be sold or donated, and usually they are the things that are broken, used beyond repair, and/or unsafe. We keep most of our “extra garbage” in the garage or sideyard and I have it organized into different piles. We need to go make a few runs now that it’s spring, so I’m looking forward to getting some space back :)
While it might be easiest to just bring everything to the landfill – I believe in recycling as much as possible, so here are some different options (keeping in mind that what is offered to us in Sudbury, Ontario might be different for you locally).
Light Bulbs / Batteries:
I actually keep every single dead battery and lightbulb we go through in a bag by our sliding door in the dining room. Regular batteries and fluorescent bulbs can be recycled in SO many places (our local library, hardware stores, Ikea) so whenever my bag is full (or when I remember) I make a trip out to recycle them. If you have bigger batteries (like for a car) you can usually bring them to a hazardous was centre (see the next point).
Old and used paints and solvents should NEVER be dumped down the sink. The ReStore used to take used paint, but they’ve recently changed the policy and now you can bring your used paints to most hardware stores. We also have a Household Hazardous Waste Depot in Greater Sudbury, and they take all solvent-type products there (the Husband regularly changes his own oil, so we usually store it and bring it there too). There’s also a Toxic Taxi that will come and pick up our hazardous waste when we can’t make it on the designated days.
Electronics / Appliances:
We also keep our broken electronics and random cables in a pile and recycle them. I think our local ReStore takes broken electronics, but you might want to check in your area to see. Where we live, appliances can be picked up at the curb (I think you have to arrange it ahead of time) and it’s definitely convenient rather than trying to bring it to a landfill.
Make sure to separate your trash as you do demo work, and when loading up your vehicle! When we were working at my brother’s house, the closest place to bring your large recycling/garbage was a recycling centre. There were lots of bins and the attendants would direct you where to put each different category of item. Where we live, the closest place is an actual landfill, where you drive over garbage and dump your stuff into a pile. There are different piles for different materials (recyclable plastics in one, wood in another, etc.) but it’s definitely an eye opener to all the stuff that actually gets thrown out.
Which is another incentive to buy less in the first place :)
I figured since I regularly shared how often I add and remove things from my house, that it would be a good idea to explain how to get rid of things (ie: that I don’t simply throw everything away). I am able to sell some items, but most of the time my unused things are donated. I try not to buy things, and I’ve kind of made it a rule that if I want to buy something, I have to use money from the things I’ve sold (unless its a necessity). Other than that, I know some people use a “one in, one out” philosophy, but you’ll always have a house full with the same amount that way! Maybe a “5 out, 1 in” would be better, especially if you’re just starting a decluttering journey :)
What do you think? Do you have any other resources to share for those looking to get rid of their stuff?