Unwanted clutter…time to let it go

From Unclutterer, this great article from fellow organizer, Jeri Dansky, on a subject close to my heart…letting your unwanted things go.

Unwanted clutter

Gayle’s project for today: help my client decide what to do with this stuff that’s been hanging around their house for years…

When going through the uncluttering process, once you’ve decided what to keep and what should go, it can be easy to get hung up on the next step: actually getting rid of the non-keepers.

The following are some things to consider as you approach this step:

Is it worth your time to sell it?

I’ve set a dollar limit for myself; anything that I don’t think I can sell for that amount or more gets donated rather than sold.

I also tend to sell in the ways that are easiest for me. For example, I’ll sell used electronics through services such as Gazelle and GreenCitizen, which offer a fixed price. I could make more money, perhaps, using eBay — but I find eBay to be difficult for a very infrequent seller like me. For items other than electronics, I’ve sometimes used Craigslist.

Some people love yard sales or garage sales — for the social aspect as well as the moneymaking aspect — so such sales make sense for them. For others, giving up a day or two to a yard sale doesn’t make sense. And some people, like many apartment dwellers, have no good place to conduct such a sale.

If you’d like to sell some items and don’t have the time or skills to sell them yourself, would it make sense to use the services of someone such as an eBay specialist to sell them for you or to take them to a consignment store which handles your type of item? You’ll be splitting the proceeds, but at least the sale is actually happening.

Another consideration: Depending on your tax situation, getting a tax deduction for a donation may remove some of the sting of not getting cash in hand from a sale, if you decide against going to sales route.

Is giving it away to family members or friends realistic?

Would the other person really want it? You don’t want to make your clutter problem become someone else’s clutter problem.

If the person you’re thinking of doesn’t live nearby, is shipping the item financially worth it? Some things are easy and inexpensive to ship off to others, but many items aren’t. Unless it’s a sentimental item, you wouldn’t want to spend more in shipping than the item is worth.

And if you’re just thinking it would be a good gift for someone, without having anyone specific in mind, you may want to reconsider. How much gift giving do you do? Do you have an area where you store gifts? Is it already full?

Does it need to be recycled? Or can it be recycled?

Know the laws in your area for hazardous waste and electronic waste disposal. If you live in an area with curbside recycling, be sure you know which items are accepted and which are not. In my area, I’ve seen that the same waste collection company has different rules in different cities, for some reason.

Does freecycle work for you?

Freecycle communities and similar groups are run locally; some communities work really well, while others don’t. Using freecycle might take more time than just dropping things off as donations. Finally, freecycle will be easiest for you if you’re okay with people coming to your home to pick things up. If having strangers know where you live makes you uncomfortable, freecycle may not be your best option.

Are there donation places that are convenient and want what you have?

Many donation places provide lists of what they accept and, of course, you want to honor any restrictions they have in place. Some places will pick things up at your home, which can make things extremely convenient. For some people, the group you’re donating to matters a lot. Do you agree with the group’s mission and values? Do you want a place that gives your items to people in need, rather than just selling them to raise funds?

Is leaving it at the curb a good solution?

This can work really well in some neighborhoods, like those with high foot traffic. Some apartment buildings also have areas where people tend to leave things for other tenants to take, if they want.

Out of all the possible ways to dispose of your items, which ones will you really do?

If you’re doing a massive uncluttering project, you may want to go for the easiest answer, at least for the bulk of your items. Tell your inner perfectionist to be quiet, and realize that you don’t have to find the absolutely perfect new home for every single item you unclutter — a “good enough” solution is just fine in many cases.


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