Last month I focused on self-care and well-being. Since I am writing this beginning my fourth week of self-isolation, I am beginning to endeavor onto home projects. My top project is cleaning my classroom space, closests, and pantry. (Again using my psychic abilities this content was actually planned months ago.) So once I pull everything out of storage and create a pile of stuff to discard at my door, what should I do with it?
This article goes beyond dropping things at Goodwill and thinking of better ways to utilize our stuff besides landfills. Lately, I have chosen to donate to different places because Goodwill is such a massive profit machine. I also do not want to take for granted what I already have in my home. So here is my list of creative ways to sell, give, recycle, and repurpose unwanted items.
Poshmark, Mercari, and Other App Sellers
I sold on Posmark for several years until about 2018. (Here is my article about tips for selling there.). App sellers like Poshmark and Mercari are great ways to reach a broader audience with specialty clothing items particularly those that have a name brand. Selling works best with listing the item with detailed photos and description. Therefore, it is a time consuming process. Both sites take a commission off of your sell and the buyer pays the shipping. It is a good way to make some extra cash.
Due to safety concerns, I will recommend Facebook Marketplace over Craigslist. (However, still use caution by meeting in a public place and vetting your buyer.) Facebook Marketplace quickly gets your item noticed by a group of buyers already in your area. My friends recommend placing direct communication on how you will select the buyer if there is more than one person interested.
Joining reseller Facebook groups in your community is a great way to sell locally as well. Some groups are made specifically for certain items like baby, pet, or home for example. Listings can be much simpler. It is a great way to sell things in bulk like a group of like outfits. Be sure to read the groups terms and conditions before listing. Also read comments and discussions to get an overall feel for the way members interact together.
Consignment and Used Clothing Stores
I recommend this one with caution. A few years ago, I placed my wedding dress and a Mardi Gra Ball dress for consignment. They did not sell after over a year and when I got them back they were damaged. They even smelled like smoke! So I would really check reviews of the place and maybe contact other people who had sold there. Similarly, there are used clothing stores like Platos Closet will buy clothes for cash or store credit. I did this before moving to Vietnam, but it is a random process. They are picky with what brands and items they will take and the prices are low. When I tried this, I brought them 3 big garbage bags full of clothes and they picked one box worth. I earned 100 dollars. However, it is 100 dollars more than I had before and it went far my first week in Ho Chi Minh City.
Old Fashioned Yard Sale
An early morning, weekend yard sale is always a quick way to move things. However, expect to keep your prices low and patience high. (Yard sale people are intense.) In these days of social distancing you can host your own virtual yard sale on Facebook or Instagram.
The Humane society doesn’t just need food and medicine for the animals. They also need used rags, sheets, towels, and blankets to use in pet cages. They also take shredded paper and newspaper for liner as well. It surprised me how eager my local shelter was to get our old sheets.
I have gone through 3 FitBits since 2015. The one I recently retired is still going, but a little sluggish. I did not just want to throw it in the garbage. Turns out there is a group called Recycle Health. Recycle Health repurposes your old fitness tracker for those in need. They also accept the chargers and replacement bands. If you want to donate simply mail the tracker to the address listed at their website.
Non-profit groups that focus veterans are often in need of physical donations. They can use anything from warm coats to old cell phones. To find out what is needed in your area contact your local VFW or other veterans group. Keep an open mind to things around your house that can help others.
Domestic Violence Safe Homes
Find yourself with thousands of bath samples from the subscription box craze? Overwhelmed by 3 semi-annual sales worth of shower gel from Bed Bath and Beyond? Take these items and donate them to a women’s shelter. I am also sure they could use feminine hygiene products, razors, and other bath products if you have an over abundance. They are not listed publicly for safety purposes so you will need a contact to deliver them for you. (Hint: A lot of churches have relationships with these groups.)
Public, School, or Classroom Library
Libraries may not be able to use every book donated by adding it to the collection, but they can often resell them to fund important library programs. (Like purchasing refreshments for the yearly Christmas program.) Most school libraries have more flexibility in what can be put in the collection. I could use some donations as prizes for reading rewards as well. If all else fails, teachers always need materials for their classroom libraries. Classroom teachers also can use games, flash cards,and art supplies as well to offset instructional costs.
A variety of plastics can be recycled including those plastic Mardi Gras cups taking over your pantry! Before tossing something, consider if it can go in the recycling bin first. A full guide to recycling plastic can be found here.
Several companies offer cash trade in or free recycling of old tablets, computers, and phones. Apple has a great trade in program that pays out in store credit. I have also been able to sell broken items on eBay for people to fix or use for parts.
Reuse bubble mailers sent to you if they are not soiled or too torn. I am still reusing old Ipsy mailers that are sturdy and a metallic pink. Be careful, to cover all barcodes. The exception to this rule is Amazon boxes. My friend lost a package because it was sent back to Amazon sorting instead of her sisters!
When you give me a gift bag, I will reuse it. I also use plain and cute store bags as well. For years, I would use Victoria Secret bags for bachelorette gifts whether they came from the store or not.
Hazardous Material Pick Up or Drop Off
Do not put caustic things like batteries, paint, nail polish, and other hazardous materials in the trash. Check your state’s policies and drop off locations.
Think of a Friend
When I did my book declutter last Spring, I thought of my friends as I discarded. Share the book if something they are interested in or something nostalgic send it their way! I sent a book of sea stories to a friend who is a Marine Biologist and a local ghost story book to a friend who has moved away. Think beyond books and consider personal style, hobbies, and interests of your friends.
Find a New Home in Your Home
Some things can be more useful in a different room. For example, I use some little wooden boxes for sorting jewelry. There are plenty of ways to reuse baskets and bags as well.
Craft and Art Projects
Discarded items make great opportunities for art and craft projects. Old t-shirts can become a useful quilt for example. Paper can be used to create artistic collages or even greeting cards. Check out options online or check out craft books from your local library. However, actually use the items instead of letting it collect as another potential project.
Fix It Up
Think of yourself, can the thing be fixed? Check for extended warranties and replacement options with customer service departments. I plan to get my favorite pair of boots resoled soon. That way I can extend their life. It is surprising there is a whole market online as well for replacement parts by selling broken items. Maybe you can even find a tutorial on YouTube to help you out.
Kids Make Believe Station
When I was a little girl, I would get in trouble breaking into my mom’s eyeshadow and using it like face paint. What little kid hasn’t wandered around the house in oversized high heels. Take some of these items to create imagination stations for the kids in your life. Camping plates make a great kitchen set. Old clothes can be a princess wardrobe. This is a fun way to give things a second life.
Think Before Trash
I hope this post has you thinking of all the possibilities out there for things you do not need anymore. As landfills get bigger and resources get strained, it is a good idea for all of us to practice some thoughtful reusing practices. I know as I begin to clean my house as the quarantine days grow longer, that I will be pressed to ask myself some of these questions as well. I at least have a good start to finding the answer.
How do you discard things?
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