How to Get Rid of Unwanted Items Responsibly: A Mover’s Guide

This summer, as you may know from previous posts, my husband and I moved across the country.  In doing so, we had a number of considerations to contemplate.  As we had decided to move ourselves, in the sense of renting a moving truck and driving it over 1,500 miles, we had decisions to make regarding what would be coming with us on that journey.

Over the last few years, almost in unconscious preparation for this huge move, we have really streamlined both our schedules/ daily routines as well as our belongings.  We began with the “Big Clean Out,” simplifying and minimizing our items.  We simplified our vehicle situation by selling the truck and commuting on a motorcycle (see this post for how much money that saved us!).  And do you remember “My Fantasy Soup Party & Why I Gave It Up“?

Because this is a process, however, it didn’t stop there.  Other items had also, for us, become no longer useful/ meaningful/ worth keeping.  As such, we were determined to get rid of these as responsibly as possible and attempt to get them into hands/ organizations where they would serve a purpose.

Here are the steps we followed to get rid of unwanted items responsibly before our move:

1. Organize and Make Decisions

Sometimes we feel like our stuff helps identify who we are or provides the endless entertainment we crave.  If you take a good, hard look at everything you own, however, you will see much of it is unnecessary.  (If you need help here, check out this Fight Club post explaining how the stuff we own can end up owning us.)  When you can see your items in that way, you are able to realistically determine whether something is worth keeping in your home or not.  Because we were moving so far, we wanted to limit the amount of stuff that we just assumed would be used.

We went through the house room by room to determine whether items would be kept or not.  The kept stuff remained where it was, but the other category was saved for step two.

2. Determine Where to Try to Give/ Sell the Items

As you may know, I consider myself somewhat of a cheapskate.  I can spend money, but normally only on things that are important to me (which is normally just food or people I love).  If I determine that something no longer needs to be in my possession, I just have to decide whether it’s something worth attempting to sell online or in a yard sale, bring to the consignment shop, or donate it to someone else.

This was the most time-consuming aspect of this process, but also the most rewarding.  Once you begin seeing the stuff you didn’t want anymore leaving the house–and maybe even a little money coming in–you start to get excited, or at least I did.

The following are resources to assist in the donating/ selling aspect of your move:

– freecycle–see this post for step-by-step directions on how to use freecycle; from my experience, people are really reliable on freecycle, both in picking up and in giving; we got almost all of our boxes and moving paper for free in one pick up and then gave them away in another freecycle transaction here in Boulder!

– craigslist–you can sell items here or simply list something under the “free” section; craigslist interactions can be awesome, but can sometimes be a little unreliable, so build in extra time if you are meeting someone

– ebay–if you want to sell something (small) for a higher price, ebay is a great bet; just remember, you’ll have to keep up with it each day and mail the items within the allotted time period.  This website, Man vs. Debt, tells the successful story of getting out of debt by selling belongings on ebay

– yard sale or street sale with friends–depending on what you have to sell, you can make a large amount, but particularly if you have large items (furniture, rugs, doors, mirrors…), a yard sale can be especially productive; a street sale with friends makes the affair even more enjoyable!

– friends, family, and facebook friends–this is how we got rid of opened and unopened booze, furniture, shampoo, nail polish, and frozen foods we couldn’t eat before we left

– consignment shop–these shops may exist in your area; they usually either take household items (like furniture, dishes, artwork, books, rugs, small appliances, dvds, and knickknacks) or clothing.  The one I used in Richmond, called The Consignment Connection, is really great.

– other places to bring donations to:
     – animal shelter–towels, blankets, pillows
     – goodwill, salvation army, amvets, and other charitable thrift shops–clothing, shoes, toys, bags, linens, dishes, and furniture (they may even come pick it up for you, if you call and schedule early enough)
     – homeless shelter–toiletries, underwear, first aid materials, razors, nail clippers, batteries, (thick) socks, feminine hygiene products, dental floss
     – food pantry– if you go GF, make a diet change, or simply don’t want to eat or lug all of the canned goods in your pantry
     – donate unwanted car–we’ve used the Make a Wish foundation, but other places also take them, like NPR

– For more good ideas on how to pare down your move, home, and/ or life, check out The Minimalists for tips and tricks.

3. Be Patient

Please!  (And remind your family to be patient, too.)  Finding a home for the many unwanted items in your house is a time-consuming process, but it doesn’t have to be a painful one.  We were so fortunate to start our moving preparations early in order to find a suitable home for just about everything.  Sometimes, this process can feel a little overwhelming, especially when you have CL dates at random times while trying to visit friends or still have a life, but it is worth it to ensure that your unwanted items are handled responsibly and don’t end up in a landfill.  Just take each item and each day one at a time.  You don’t have to stress over ALL of the things at once.  Once you get going, you’ll find a good rhythm and it’ll be over before you even know it!

***Remember, particularly if you itemize your taxes, to keep an accurate record of everything you donate to charitable organizations.  You can create an Excel spreadsheet for tax time.

Do you have any additional ideas for responsibly getting rid of unwanted items?  Share them below or on Facebook.

  1. Thanks for every other great post. The place else may just anyone get that type of information in such a perfect way of writing? I have a presentation subsequent week, and I am on the look for such info.

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