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Donate, sell, recycle, or repurpose?
How to properly get rid of stuff.
Congratulations! When you’re reading this, you probably successfully completed your first (or second, or third, or umpteenths) attempt to finally purge your home. Or maybe you used the KonMari method, or were about to start to, and wonder. You already have or are about to have a mountain of stuff you want to get out of your house. What to do with all that excess stuff? Well, there are plenty of ideas. Let me share with you the most common.
Selling your excess stuff is probably one of the first ideas that comes to people’s minds when considering to let go of something. It was worth something when they bought it, right? They paid their money for it, didn’t they? So someone else should be interested in buying that now, shouldn’t they?
Certain things are great for reselling them: Expensive Designer items in good condition, for example. Or watches from brands that are well known.
Others are difficult to sell: Regular furniture from “normal” shops, or “no name” clothes even when they’re excellent, or knick-knacks, or sometimes even collector’s items because no one seems to look for that very item you want to sell.
So how to decide if you should sell an item?
There are several criteria to consider when making this decision.
- State of the item: is it in really good state? Clean, working, not damaged? Would you buy it?
- Value of the item: check online for how much these items usually sell and decide if your effort is going to pay off.
- Is it worth the effort: If you only have a few items and plenty of time, give it a try to sell it. Extra money is always welcome, isn’t it? But if you have for example a mountain of clothes to get rid of and they are mostly H&M, Zara and the like, you could try to sell them as packages (5 blouses size M). But is it really worth your time? Sorting, taking pictures, putting them online, writing descriptions, answering questions of potential buyers, packing them, sending them out. If that is a no to you, consider donating. You do something good for others who can’t afford new clothes, and it costs you less time.
- Do you have the patience: If you achieved a certain level of tidiness, you might be annoyed by boxes or bags standing around. You’d rather see fast results. Consider donating if you don’t need the money.
If you have checked all this and came to the conclusion that you want to sell your items, here is where:
rebuy.de for tablets, phones, cameras, etc.
There are plenty of “sell & buy” groups to be found on facebook. check for your area. They might have names like “Sell & Buy”, “Family Market”, “Buy, Swap, Donate” etc.
You can also try second hand shops that sometimes take over clothes for a small commission, flea markets, or a garage sale (if that is legit and common in your area).
If you do not want to sell it yourself, look for ebay or marktplaats sales services who will for a fee sell your stuff.
Okay, so you don’t want to sell your stuff. This makes it faster and easier to get rid of your stuff, and don’t forget that you’re doing something good for other people, too.
How to decide if you should donate an item?
The stuff you donate should:
- Be in usable condition – would you still use it? Does it work?
- Complete (what should someone else do with a board game where half of the stuff is missing)
- and clean (maybe not sparkling like new, but consider washing dirty clothes etc – these are real people getting your things)
When I donate, I try to find a place that makes sense for the kind of items I want to donate.
For example, sleeping bags, winter jackets, and warm shoes totally make sense to be donated to a shelter for homeless people. In the winter, during the summer they might not have enough storage space. Baby clothes and toys maybe for a refugee home, or a hospital, or a women’s shelter etc.
There are also shops that will sell your items (that you give them for free), and in reverse give otherwise chanceless people a place to work.
Sohere’s where to donate:
- local refugee homes
- women’s shelters
- homeless shelters
- second hand shops
- children’s homes
- Salvation Army
- Caritas, Red Cross, etc
- check for local initiatives (for Berlin, there’s a list here)
- Food: Berliner Tafel (Berlin, Germany)
Repair, repurpose and Upcycle.
How to decide if you should repair, repurpose or upcycle an item?
If you have something that you have been keeping for sentimental reasons, do not actually use anymore, but still don’t want to part with, that’s a strong indication for repurposing it. For example the baby clothes of your adult kids, or your wedding dress, or the first pair of jeans you bought with your own money.
There are many ideas out there on the internet, I can’t list them all. Google “repurpose [your item]” or “upcycling [your item]”and check out what options there are.
Some examples: A blanket or quilt from a t-shirt collection, stuffed animals from socks, new dressers with old drawers, art objects, etc.
Technical stuff that you never managed to repair might still be repairable. Check with an expert or at a repair cafe where you usually find skilled people.
How to decide if you should recycle an item?
None of the above seemed appropriate? The thing in questions is torn, stained, or broken beyond repair?
Then please recycle it. Usually glass, paper, and plastic are the easiest to get rid of in the appropriate containers.
Your local recycling yard (Recyclinghof in Germany/Berlin) will offer a environmentally friendly, correct way of recycling bulky garbage, electronic waste, (coloured) wood, debris, etc.
> Organize a clothing swap party. (Don’t forget that this way, you get rid of clothes, but you also bring in new clothes)
> Find a “free your stuff” or “free stuff” group in your area on Facebook and offer the item there.
> Find or open a mini library in your area to exchange books with others. That can be a shelf at a bus stop, a window sill in your apartment building, or a closet on the street. Sometimes cafes also have a bookshelf where you can bring in and take away books for free.
> bookcrossing.com lets you share books by just leaving them somewhere, and you can follow them online.
> Great in big cities like Berlin: Put your stuff in boxes, set them outside on the curb or into the staircase of your apartment building, put a sign on the box “free” / “zum Mitnehmen”. Often, stuff vanishes within minutes after you put it out there. Make sure that the weather is dry, recycle the remains and keep an eye on it so people don’t litter the streets with your stuff.
I hope that you found some inspiration in this article. The most important thing is that you don’t go all perfectionist and forget to begin! If you need help finding stuff to donate, let me help you 🙂 Get in touch, or check out my services. I am here to help you, and I look forward to hearing from you!