Getting rid of junk can be burdensome and expensive – which is probably why so many of us hate decluttering. Not only do we have to go through a ton of stuff, but by the time we are finished, we are usually left with a hodge-podge of items we have no idea what to do with.
Luckily, there are tons of easy ways to get rid of junk. And in many cases, it can be recycled or disposed of in a way that won’t hurt the environment or cost you a fortune. And oftentimes, what you call “junk” is actually still very valuable and may even earn you some money.
To give you some ideas, below is a list of some of the best ways to get rid of your junky items. Including everything from broken electronics and old clothes to brand new items, you forgot you even had.
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1) Give to friends and family
One of the easiest ways to get rid of your junk is to offer it to your friends and family. Obviously, you shouldn’t give them your garbage items, but if you have something useful, they may want it. Just remember, that once you give an item away, it belongs to the other person and they can do what they want with it. Keep this in mind if you are giving them something valuable or sentimental, as you may see it on eBay the next day.
2) Leave it on the curb with free sign
Leaving items on the curb with a free sign is another simple way to get rid of junk. To spread the word, you can put a “Curb Alert” announcement on Craigslist, Freecycle, or Nextdoor. Just make sure your item is in decent condition and is something someone would actually want. If not, it may end up sitting for quite a while, which your neighbors won’t appreciate.
3) Have your town pick it up
Municipal recycling program
Definitely make sure you take full advantage of your town’s recycling program. To start, find out all of the different items you can place in curbside bins. If items aren’t accepted curbside, they can sometimes be brought to your local recycling center instead. In some towns, these centers are extensive and will accept all sorts of things like clothes and textiles, tires, mattresses, plastics, furniture, electronics, and wires.
Municipal trash program
In some towns, you can call your trash collector and have them pick up large items that can’t fit in your trash or recycling bins. Always call to see what they will accept first and in many cases, you will need to set a date and time for the pickup. Items typically need to be placed at the curb so if you’re strong enough to lift it yourself, it’s a free way to get rid of bulky items.
Hazardous waste program
Items that are considered hazardous waste include paint, batteries, chemicals, pesticides, and automotive fluids. Some towns may pick this up curbside but in many towns, it needs to be dropped off at designated locations.
4) Check libraries, churches, & animal organizations
Many libraries accept gently used books and DVDs that are either added to their collection or sold to raise money for their programs and services. Churches often collect food, coats, unused toiletries, and other items for shelters and parishioners. And animal organizations often post lists of their most wanted items on their website. They often need things like used blankets or towels. Some wildlife rehabilitators will also accept old furs to be used for rehabbing baby animals.
5) Contact organizations that pick up donations
Some organizations will come to your house to pick up items they can sell or reuse. This is often free but it varies by area. I would start by doing an online search and then calling local organizations to see if they service your zip code. Also, make sure to double-check the items they are accepting and whether or not their pickup service is on hold, due to the Coronavirus.
6) Recycle items at retail and grocery stores
More and more frequently, stores are offering recycling bins and incentives for recycling different items. The next time you go to your favorite retail store, see if they have recycling bins placed near the entrance (Best Buy and Target are examples of stores that do this). If you don’t see any bins, ask customer service if they collect any items for recycling. In some cases, they will offer you coupons or store credit for doing so. Below is a list of some recyclable items and the stores that accept them.
7) Place in parking lot donation bins
Donation bins are often found in parking lots and will sometimes take items that other non-profits won’t. The biggest thing to remember with donation bins is that not all of them are collecting for non-profit organizations. So you may have to do some research about the bin’s owner if that’s important to you.
8) Drop off items at non-profit donation centers
Organizations like Goodwill, Habitat for Humanity, and the Salvation Army often have centers where you can bring in items you wish to donate. Always call or check their websites beforehand to see what they accept. A bonus of using this method is that you can claim your donation as a charitable deduction on your taxes.
9) Rent a dumpster
If you have a large number of items you need to throw away, you may want to consider renting a dumpster. This is usually the best option if you are decluttering a large area with lots of junk items like a basement or garage. The biggest benefit of a dumpster is convenience since the rental company will both drop-off and pick up the dumpster when you’re done.
For a smaller option, consider using dumpster bags, which are huge bags you can fill with junk and have picked up when you’re done. The bags themselves are not expensive and can be found at Amazon or HomeDepot. But be aware that the pickup fees can be high, making a regular dumpster a more economical choice in some cases.
10) Have a tag sale
Tag sales can be a lot of work but a great way to earn some extra money. But keep in mind that you may not draw a big crowd (due to the virus) or they might be banned altogether (so check before you have one). The same goes for renting tables at fleamarkets. Another option, if money isn’t important to you, is to have an “Everything Is Free” sale. Just make sure you post a sign that everything is “As is”.
11) Sell Items Online
Selling items online can take a lot more effort than other methods, but it’s likely to earn you the most money. In many cases, you will have to list, photograph, and ship the items on your own which can be tough if you’re strapped for time. Four popular places you can sell your items online can be found below.
EBay is a great marketplace because you can sell almost anything. For example, if you have a bunch of broken costume jewelry, you can sell it to people who use it for crafts. Many people will also buy other types of broken items they can repair and sell for profit. You can also sell things like old remote controls for TVs you don’t own anymore. Just remember that eBay charges you small fees to use their service and you are responsible for describing, photographing, and shipping your items.
Craigslist is another good place to sell your stuff because you can make the buyer pick up their purchases, avoiding shipping issues. You can also make them pay in cash so there is no delay in getting your money. One of the biggest issues with Craigslist is that you have to exchange goods face to face. In this case, meet the buyer at your local police station and bring someone with you to be safe.
ThredUp is an online consignment store that sends you a bag that you can fill with your items and mail back to them (for free). Items that are deemed eligible will be placed for sale on their website. The bad news is that you probably won’t get as much money compared to selling the items yourself (especially high-end items). But having someone list, photograph, and ship the items for you is a huge bonus.
Poshmark is similar to eBay but a little easier to use. They don’t allow returns (except under certain circumstances) so you won’t have to worry about someone changing their mind and sending your stuff back. The biggest downside of Poshmark is that you can only sell clothes and accessories like jewelry, shoes, and purses. And like eBay, they charge fees that can eat into profits.
12) Bring unwanted gold to jewelry stores
Jewelry stores are a convenient way to get rid of unused or broken jewelry. The value of gold is high right now so it’s a great time to sell. To get the best price I recommend doing some online research to get an estimate of what your gold is worth. It’s also a good idea to bring your items to multiple places to get the best price.
A second option is to mail your jewelry to places like SellYourGold. Companies like these will appraise your jewelry and give you a no-pressure offer you can either accept or reject. Just make sure you check reviews first, no matter which company you use.
13) Visit a pawnshop for quick cash
Pawnshops are another place you can sell your old junk. The best thing about this method is that you get your cash right away and you don’t have to ship any items. Pawnshops also take a large variety of items which is great if you have a mish-mash of stuff and no time to sell it yourself. The biggest downside of pawnshops is that you receive very little money for your items. But in certain situations, the trade-off might be worth it if you need money quickly.
14) Bring clothes & furniture to a consignment store
Consignment stores can be tricky. Some are more strict regarding the brands they accept and your items need to be in good condition or they’ll be rejected. On the bright side, they do all of the work of selling your clothes and furniture for you and will place the money in your account when they do. Just keep in mind that you usually don’t have control over the amount they sell it for and you may not make any money if it doesn’t sell within a specified time frame.
15) Hire a junk remover
Junk removers can be a Godsend if you have heavy items you can’t move on your own or if you have a huge clean-out job. The biggest problem is that they are expensive. And you need to make sure they are properly insured. Also, be on the lookout for hidden fees. A company might fail to inform you, for example, that there’s a $30 mattress removal fee. And always make sure to call around. The prices between companies can be staggering.
16) Rent a storage unit
Storage units are helpful for people with a lot of junk they need out of the house but don’t have anywhere to store it. Units come in all different sizes and some have different features like temperature control and drive-up access. The two biggest downsides of storage units are the expense and the fact you have to travel to access your items.
For a shorter-term solution, consider a PODS container. PODS containers are small storage units that can be left at your house. Just make sure to check with your town to see if you need a permit.
17) Contact a scrap or salvage yard
If you have any junk vehicles you need to get rid of, contact a scrap or salvage yard. Even if the car isn’t running, it still holds value as it can be salvaged for parts or disassembled for scrap metal. And you’ll probably make a little money in the process. On that note, you can also donate your unwanted car to a charity (as an alternative) and write it off as a tax deduction.
18) Have sensitive documents shredded
If you have a ton of paper that needs to be shredded visit a UPS, Staples, or FedEx Store. It’s a great way to quickly get rid of bulk documents that contain sensitive information. Typically, they charge by the pound, but they all have different prices so you can comparison shop. Some towns also offer a free shredding day where they pay to have a mobile shredding truck do free shredding for residents.
19) Have important photos and videos digitized
If you’re holding onto lots of VHS tapes or have a ton of old photographs, you may want to pay to have them digitized. Many companies offer this service, both locally and online. The only problem is that it can get expensive (if you have a lot of them) so you make want to try purchasing the equipment and doing it yourself.
20) Have an estate sale
If you have a whole house worth of unwanted items, consider having an estate sale. Estate sales are usually held inside your home. And you can even hire a company to do it for you, saving you a ton of work. Keep in mind though, an estate sale typically requires a lot of items that need to be in decent shape (but not necessarily perfect).
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What are your favorite ways to get rid of junk? Let me know in the comments!