Ask the Readers: How Do You Get Rid of Your Unwanted Stuff?

By Ashley Jacobs on 17 July 2012 (Updated 24 July 2012) 135 comments
Photo: David Stanley

Editor's Note: Congratulations to Autumn, kristina, and Tom for winning this week's contest! 

Everyone has items in their house or in storage that they don't need or want anymore. Whether it's an old TV that never gets used or items of clothing your kids outgrew, odds are you've either sold, donated, or thrown away things you no longer use or just don't need. Some people take the time to sell stuff on Craigslist or have a yard sale while others either donate or throw away their unwanted stuff.

How do you get rid of your unwanted stuff? Do you sell it on Craigslist? Have a garage sale? Donate it? Or do you just throw it out?

Tell us how you get rid of your unwanted stuff and we'll enter you in a drawing to win a $20 Amazon Gift Card!

Win 1 of 3 $20 Amazon Gift Cards

We're doing three giveaways — one for random comments, one for random Facebook "Likes", and another one for random tweets.

Mandatory Entry: 

  • Post your answer in the comments below 

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  • Go to our Facebook page, "Like" us, and leave a comment on this article telling us you did, or
  • Tweet your answer. You have to be a follower of our @wisebread account. Include both "@wisebread" and "#WBAsk" in your tweet so we'll see it and count it. Leave a link to your tweet (click the timestamp for the individual URL) in a separate comment.

If you're inspired to write a whole blog post OR you have a photo on flickr to share, please link to it in the comments or tweet it.

Giveaway Rules:

  • Contest ends Monday, July 23rd at 11:59 pm Pacific. Winners will be announced after July 23rd on the original post. Winners will also be contacted via email.
  • You can enter all three drawings — once by leaving a comment, once by liking our Facebook update, and once by tweeting.
  • This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered, or associated with Facebook.
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Good Luck!

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Rob O.

We donate gently used adult clothing and shoes to our local Goodwill. We save almost all of our son's outgrown clothing, books, and toys for a twice annual consignment sale called "Just Between Friends."

We take hard plastics to the recycling center and soft plastics (like bread wrappers, etc.) I turn in at the grocery store in the bin where they recycle plastic shopping bags.

And though this happens only infrequently, we donate our old eyeglasses to a local chapter of The Lion's Club. And a couple of times, my wife has let her hair get long enough (I believe they need 10" min.) that she could have it cut and donated to Locks of Love.

Generally, I avoid just throwing away stuff as much as possible.

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Rob O.

I'm a Facebook fan!

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Valerie

I consign unwanted stuff at the local thrift store.

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Valerie

I liked you on Facebook

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I give away unwanted things in a number of ways, depending on what it is. Books I donate to our local public library for their annual book sale; nicer clothing I consign; less nice clothes I give to the local donation center like Goodwill; housewares I give away using Freecycle or by just putting a note that says "FREE" on them and leaving them on the curb; electronics, furniture, lawn equipment, musical instruments, sporting goods and other items I could get some money for I usually sell on Craigslist; and craft supplies or odds and ends I donate to a local organization called The Scrap Exchange (www.scrapexchange.org) that uses them for creative reuse projects. Two other ways I get rid of unwanted items is sending out a note on our neighborhood listserve that something is available to a good home *OR* dropping them off at a place called The Swap Shop which is a facility run by our local government -- the idea is that if you have something you drop if off, and if need something you take it.

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I "liked" you on Facebook! :)

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Harry Dutton

I am a member to a few local facebook groups where you can list items you don't want anymore. Certain sites are for only freely given items and others are for sale only.

I usually list things on there, if they don't sell, then to Ebay, then to the goodwill store.

Guest's picture

I wrote this blog post and accompanying guide to help people figure out where to get rid of unwanted stuff - especially for folks who live in the Durham, NC area. Thanks! http://tinyurl.com/cw6oczp

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Natalie

When I clean things out I generally end up with three categories: trash, Goodwill, and consignment store.

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Natasha

Recently, I have been selling items on Craigslist and it has worked wonderfully. Everybody wins - the stuff doesn't end up in a landfill, someone else gets something they need for a good price, and I get cash in my pocket!

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Alex H

Craigslist, eBay and Yardsellr are all my go-to sources for making some space in my place. When it comes to clothes, shoes and other things that make for difficult online purchases, I scout out local resale shops. I've been interested, too, in cosigners that sell used clothes, but haven't had the chance to check one out in detail yet.

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Alex H

Also, liked on facebook.
Fingers crossed!

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Sharon

I have had many yard sales but now we choose to donate unwanted items to local a local rescue mission, battered women's shelter, Habitat ReStore, or Goodwill.

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Mia

I usually take things to Goodwill. Our local Goodwill has some really good services to help people find jobs so I feel like its a good cause. We did have a yard sale when we did a major clean out to make room for baby, we made over $300.

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Josh

For clothing I will donate it to Goodwill. Everything else I generally sell on eBay. You will usually get what the item is actually worth by doing this. It helps keep my finances in check and helps keep me decluttered.

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Matt

I generally donate clothing and low to moderate value items. For higher value stuff, I sell on craigslist or at a yard sale.

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Lisa Cooper

When my family moved four years ago, we used many means to get rid of our unwanted items. We didn't throw anything away unless it was useless. We listed furniture on Craigslist and gave most everything else to Goodwill. When we still couldn't find anyone to take some furniture items even for free, we got www.1800gotjunk.com to pick them up. The driver assured me that they do attempt to donate or recycle the items before trashing them. Where we live now, we occasionally consign items at a used furniture and knick knack store. I have a friend who happily takes my boys' outgrown clothes. And I found a thrift store that will take just about anything for donation: they have people who can fix electronics or do minor repairs and clothes that are raggy can be recycled for different purposes depending on what material they are made from.

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Guest

I love donating things to the Goodwill. Its a great organization, encourages reuse and gives you a tax break! What's not to love?!

Some stuff does need to be just thrown away, though. Don't make it the Goodwill's job to sort your junk.

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Cathie

I do all the above. If I think I can get decent $$, I'll do Amazon or ebay first, then Craigslist, then yard sale, then give it away. I only throw away trash.

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Guest

I do a combination. I donate to a maternity resource center, I give things away on Freecycle, I donate to Goodwill and rarely I will sell to a local consignment shop. My neighborhood doesn't work well for yard sales.

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YH

First I see if any of my friends could use/would want what it is I don't need anymore (if the items are still ok and in good shape). But most of the time I just donate it to a local charity. Also, I've never been in the habit of selling unwanted things.

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Guest

I try to sell it on Craigslist, if that doesn't work I donate to Goodwill.

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Razorbacks92

Garage sales twice a year. Really helps with our get of debt plan. Plus, half the stuff we sell came from someone else's curb. Amazing how much people throw away that we can get at least a dollar for at our sale!

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Catherine Robinson

We donate most of our unwanted stuff to a thrift store that supports the ARC, since our son has developmental disabilities. I've also tried trading in and selling used books on Amazon, but was not pleased with the results. I think I'm going to try our local used bookstore next.

Guest's picture

I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a bit of a packrat. One of the things I have the biggest problem getting rid of is books. I've found 3 great ways to get rid of books I don't want. I just need motivation.

1. Book exchange on Reddit. You list books you want and books you have to giveaway and make a post on Reddit. People who have something to trade contact you and you mail your book to them and vice versa.

2. Paperbackswap.com. Kind of the same principle. Except you make a wishlist and the post books you don't want. If someone wants one of your books, you send it and then you get a credit. Then they notify you if someone posts a book you want and it's your turn on the waiting list for that book, you can exchange a credit for a book.

3. half.com. If I have a book I know I can actually get a decent amount of money for, I'll sell it. I don't go through the effort for less than 10 bucks (into my pocket after shipping and the company comission) so it's rare I actually sell anything other than textbooks.

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Catherine Robinson

I "liked" Wise Bread on Facebook long ago!

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WonderRenae

My girlfriends and I do clothing exchanges. I get lots of new (to me) clothes, and get rid of clothes that I don't want anymore! I also donate many unwanted items to Goodwill.

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Christina

My favorite ways to get rid of stuff is to hold a garage sale or just donate it to Salvation Army or Goodwill.

But I've also started exploring other places to sell stuff besides a garage sale:

http://www.northerncheapskate.com/2012/06/selling-your-stuff-without-a-g...

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beachmum

I love Freecycle; I belong to a few communities, one near where I work, and several in the area. I post my stuff, and people haul it off my porch.

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Christina

I liked you on Facebook

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I always planned to send my unwanted stuff on Craigslist but after months of that not happening, I finally just decided to donate some and put others outside saying "free". It's worth the piece of mind to finally have all that old junk out of my house and even if I didn't make an extra $100 or so, I'm happy it's done.

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Brenda Faulkner

I give mine to the Goodwill and take the tax deduction.

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Brenda Faulkner

I follow you on Facebook!

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Heather

I try various methods of selling unwanted items. Craigslist, Ebay. Sometimes I will try to upcycle and use the old stuff to make something new. If none of these options pan out, I drop it off at the neighborhood Goodwill.

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Felisha

I either donate it to Goodwill or have a yard sale once in blue moon!

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Betty D

I throw stuff away in black garbage bags so my family can't see what it is.

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Betty D

I liked Your post on facebook.

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Betty D

I responded on Twitter. https://mobile.twitter.com/#!/1bets1/status/225263847316000768

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Kristy

I generally just bag it up and donate it to the Salvation Army. Sometimes I put it on the curb with a FREE sign. Nothing I get rid of would be worth the time to sell.

Guest's picture

mostly? Goodwill. It's easier, it's gone, the clutter goes away, and while I'm there, I can see what else I "need" -- eBay for the more expensive stuff.

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Thrifty Writer

If it's something that I think a definite person would like, I give it to him/her. For example, when clearing off a bathroom shelf, I noticed a bunch of hair accessories I had never even worn. I had a feeling that a co-worker would like them, so I gave them to her - she was delighted. I once got a swag bag from a film festival that had a bunch of things that I had no use for - key chains, sling bag, etc. Brought 'em in to work and left them on a table - everything was gone by the end of the day. Of course, this method of bringing stuff to the office works best with food:-) but works for a lot of other stuff as well. Old clothes I donate, usually to VFW or some other reliable non-profit. I actually need to sell an electronic item and I think I'll have to do it with Craig's List, 'cause e-bay has become too expensive for listing.

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Tom

I can usually find someone through friends or work who's moving out on their own or into a new place on my side of the country - I'll offer stuff to them first! Although, if no one I know wants my old junk, someone on CL def will as a backup.

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yard sales, eBay, goodwill

Guest's picture

What a great question! We just downsized and moved, so we had a LOT of stuff we didn't need, didn't want anymore, or didn't have room for. We've sold a little on Craigslist, things like tools. We also gave some to our daughter in Boston - my husband and son drove a truck full of stuff back to her and helped her move. But mostly, we've donated things. And the biggest recipient has been the church of a friend of mine. They were having their annual garage sale to raise funds, so they took tons of stuff - everything from rugs to furniture to artwork to clothes to garden tools to kitchen stuff to ... you can see where it's going - EVERYTHING! They took 14 van loads before the move and 5 additional ones after we had started to settle in and realize that we still had more to shed. Whew! It's been quite the process.

We have yet more boxes that we will donate to a charity here in Minneapolis. Plus I am taking boxes of CDs to my church choir - they are disappearing fast from there! And we will donate whatever is left.
Or Freecycle it.
Or list it for free on Craigslist.
Or set it out on the curb - that is actually an extremely effective way to pass along stuff that's not needed anymore. We did this with bookshelves pre-move - and we got our kitchen chairs that way too.

I read somewhere that the average American adds ~1000 lbs of "stuff" to their homes each year. This is not sustainable - or ethical - IMHO and I'm very grateful to be shedding stuff.

Thanks for the question. I look forward to other folks' ideas.

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I "gift" it to my wife and let her sell it on E-bay because I don't want to deal with it. It's easy, takes no work on my part and she's happy because the money she makes from the sale she can spend on whatever she wants!

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If I can get more than $20.00 for it I sell it (http://mreverydaydollar.com/sellers-guide-to-craigslist/).

If not, it gets donated and I use it as a deduction on my itemized taxes.

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Margaret Davis

There are several steps to getting rid of unwanted stuff afte my once a year clean out the clutter campaign:

1) Family - I always check with family if they need anything first. Several furnture items and kitchen gadgets have made the rounds as people have gone to college, gotten married, were widowed, etc. So family comes first.

2) Ebay - Anything that may have potential value I try to use Ebay in order to get top dollar. It can be a pain to research, price, list, ship, etc. but especially after a big clean out I generally have a few things which make it worthwile.

3) Craigslist - This is where everything that is big and/or heavy and/or bulky gets listed. My rule of thumb is to arrange for several people (either family or friends) to be around when a person from Craiglist comes to check out or pickup an item. Sometimes the items are freebies - others are sales.

By the time I've gotten this far I generally don't have enough quantity for a yard sale so I donate any books to the library and the remainder to Goodwill. Of course, I create lists of everything so I can deduct from taxes my yard sale values :)

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Aaron L

I get rid of old clothes by donating to Goodwill.

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Robin

Craiglist for quality items, through my husband's work for even higher quality items and donate or freecycle the rest.

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KarenJ

A local consignment shop takes home goods and women's clothing. The money I make is invested back into an updated wardrobe and home. Recently, I took the money I earned and used it toward our vacation. My husband's clothing we donated to Goodwill and took a receipt for the tax deduction!

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Marisa

Every six months or my friends and I have a big clothing swap. We take our unwanted clothes, accessories and shoes to one person's house. We also bring wine or appetizers and enjoy refreshments while we chat and lay out all of our goods. At some point, we all agree to start picking out what we want. We try on each other's clothes and set aside any of the stuff we want to keep.

This is such an elegant solution to the problem of getting rid of "stuff." We've even gradually started including books or home goods in the swap. You always have some impulse buy that was a really GOOD DEAL on clearance and you convinced yourself you'd wear (but never did). You may have gained or lost weight over the year and now have a lot of clothing that doesn't fit. This way, we get to have a great girls' night, get rid of stuff without feeling like the money you initially spent just went down the drain, and satisfy the urge to shop without spending any money. The last go-around I got a dress that would retail for $400 and a sharp Banana Republic jacket!

At the end of the night whatever isn't taken gets packed into garbage bags or boxes and a designated person takes it to a thrift store. Everyone wins!

Guest's picture

If I think I can get money from it it, I will use craigslist. I sold a working lawnmower this spring. I tried using freecycle before, but got tired of women begging for maternity/baby clothes. If it is an item I do not think has any value, I just throw it in the garbage. Large items I take to the dump or a scrap recycler.

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Francesca

It usually depends on the value of the item. If it's clothing or books, I usually just donate it to Goodwill. Something like a fridge or a working computer, I'll try to sell on Craigslist.

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DeeDee

We have a Salvation Army to donate clothes to. Recycle what we can and ask around to see if anybody can use what we are looking to get rid of.

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Diane

In the past we've had yard sales, when we had enough stuff to make that worthwhile. I've also used consignment shops for some items. Recently, I've been donating things to Goodwill, passing down some items to my nephews, and selling a few things on craigslist. I don't want to hold on to enough stuff to have a yard sale, though we may have just one more when we're ready to move.

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Diane

I like Wisebread on fb!

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NJJ

I usually donate somethings to charity but some of the good stuff I'll sell online It just depends on what I have and the size of what I'm getting rid of

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Nikki

DVDs and books go to the local library - newspapers, magazines and recyclables go to a local foundation for developmentally disabled adults - clothing and food, we check with our Air Force base to see if they have families that could use them first: if they're not taking any at that time, we post in our local Freecycle and arrange for pick-up.

Guest's picture

In addition to Craigslist, selling on Amazon, and garage sales, I've given things away via Twitternand Facebook...and sometimes just by putting an object out to the curb with a "free" sign on it. I've done that to recycle aluminum awnings, bedsteads, and old pool equipment.

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I "liked" you on Facebook

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Duly tweeted 1:28 PM - 17 Jul 12 via web by @susandra

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Christie

1) Give it away.
2) Donate it to a local resale shop.
3) Recycle it.
4) If all else fails, trash it!

That's my standard procedure for getting rid of stuff, but I'm contemplating having a "pay what you want" yard sale, where any price is accepted. My kids and I are trying to raise money for World Vision's Water Fund and for a family vacation, so this seems like a good way to do it -- 1/2 for World Vision, 1/2 for us!

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Christie

Oh, commented and liked on Facebook as well! :)

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Guest

Tag sale! It doesn't always work very well. Other than that, Freecycle.org.

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Guest

unwanted stuff usually just means unwanted by me so I offer first to family, friends and neighbors

if I have time and inclination, resell via craigslist, eBay, amazon

in interest of expediency, it goes to the local thrift shop

awhile back, I started keeping a file of people and places that needed donations of household items, clothing, media -- always comes in handy

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Guest

We try to have a garage sale, but we also have taken items to resale shops in our area, and Goodwill or Salvation Army.

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Guest

I'm a fan on FB

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Getting rid of our stuff works best for us by not getting the unnecessary stuff in the first place. We try to buy only things we need to survive.

Otherwise things that we may have and no longer need, we will try and sell on craigslist or ebay. For little items we do like to donate to thrift stores. It's better to give than to receive! It feels good to give and help others who can't afford the same item brand new.

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Guest

For my part...I sell most of my stuff on Kijiji..or on my own Facebook.

Sales are good, as I always keep my thing clean ( Because unwanted doesn't necessarily mean broken or unusable ) ...and with the boxes and what not that it came in.

Good luck with your "stuff"..... :-)

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Guest

Generally Craigslist is a good bet. However, that said, Amazon allows trade-ins on specific items (which you can check at their website). Also, my girlfriend just introduced me to Plato's Closet, where you can sell as well as shop for gently used brand-name clothing and accessories. Pretty amazing stuff :)

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Monica Platz

I'm a facebook fan!

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Monica Platz

I donate a lot of clothes, but also ebay things to try to recoop some of the money paid out.

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Happy Love

I sell some items on eBay, but most I give to Goodwill.

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Selene M.

We sell things on Craigslist, list free items on freecycle.com, and will have a limited yard sale with what's left as we're emptying our house.

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Selene M.

I like you on Facebook as Selene Montgomery

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NancyH

I liked the entry on Facebook and commented.

To get rid of stuff, I do a variety of things: 1) first, give to family and friends who need the stuff, 2) sell at a garage sale, 3) give to Goodwill or other non-profit, 4) give away on Freecycle.org, 5) put out on curb with "free" sign. I don't feel comfortable with Craigslist and no longer like eBay. I am open to trading but haven't found the right opportunity.

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Sharon C

Hi I usually donate to goodwill or to church. If my funds are low I will then sell at a flea market. I am a website fan!

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Rebecca B. A. R.

I use a variety of different methods of getting rid of my clutter, including: ebay, craigslist, freecycle, amazon.com, half.com, personal yard sales, and giving things away to family, friends, Goodwill, and our local no-kill animal shelters annual yard sale event. I try very hard to never throw anything of use in the trash!

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Joann

We do a little of everything. Some items we save and pass down to younger siblings, cousins or friends. We sell larger reuseable items (tires, furniture) & toys on Craigslist. And for that quick get rid of we donate to the local thrift store.

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Joann

Liked on Facebook!!! :)

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Therese

We usually donate our unwanted stuff to the local Kiwanis Club for their thrift store.

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abitnerdy

For clothes my girlfriend and I all have clothing swaps, for items we go to a neighbor head 'yard sale' once a year.

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Gwenavyre

Before we moved across the country I had a "pay what it is worth to you" sale. People named their price and after the sale the leftovers were donated. I made more doing that then the times that I've had regular garage sales with everything having a marked price.

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Jenn

I work for a large employer and we have an online sales posting board. I try to sell stuff through that as much as I can. My past garage sales were pretty pathetic. I donate to Goodwill quite a bit. I'll put things out at the curb with a "free" sign on them. Sometimes I will throw things away in the trash just because it is easier than trying to sell. I don't like to, but it is less hassle.

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RGR

1) I trade the things I no longer need with friends and stores for what I NEED.

2) I give to others {Goodwill/charity, family, friends}

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Mami2jcn

I like you on Facebook with my username Mary Happymommy.

Sorry, I'm resubmitting because I entered the wrong email address before. Thanks.

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Mami2jcn

I get rid of stuff by donating it. If it's no longer usable, I have it hauled away.

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Olivia

Yard sales have not been very effective in our neighborhood. Clothes go to our local thrift store or to Purple Heart. Furniture is sold on Craigslist or given through freecycle. Books are sold at our local flea market to a book dealer or given to the library for their twice yearly book sale. We've tried to sell prime stuff through ebay with mixed results.

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Dan Lynch

When I get rid of unwanted items, it's all of the above. I use Craigslist, Amazon.com, I donate, recycle, and for somethings, the trash. I've been looking into market.swap.com as well. I've yet to try it though.

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Gabe Rodriguez

I just give away my clothes to Goodwill. It makes me laugh to see people put up a garage sale with the same clothes they had last garage sale hoping to make a penny of those clothes!

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Guest

Occasionally we hold a garage sale to dispose of items we no longer use or need. Mostly we just use stuff until it wears out or breaks, then junk it with the rest of the outgoing trash. In this economy, we haven't bought much stuff lately, so have much less to get rid of. It's a good feeling to get shed of the clutter. With good, reuseable items, such as clothing, etc., we always donate it to a thrift store that raises money for animals.

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Steph

Simple: i donate the clothing that is to small, unused, or just simply not wanted anymore. Anything that has the recycling symbol on it i recycle properly, and discard any garbage, anything that is electronic and still in good working condition i always bring to goodwill or post on freecycle. Environmental friendly? Yes!!<3 =]

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Patrick

We make at least two donations a year to the local Goodwill. If it's still usable, it goes to Goodwill. If it's broken, torn, etc. it goes into the trash.

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Elena

I donate stuff to Goodwill or local charity. If I find ripped clothes that are not good for donating I use them to wipe off the floors.

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Elena

I like you on Facebook as Elena Istomina

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scoutmaster

I host a rapid fast-moving "clean out your junk day" with friends. We all go to the 1st friends home for 1--1 1/2 hrs, help her clean out her problem area...wether it be a garage, pantry, linen closet, kids room etc... The deal is..Items that are cleaned out...are TAKEN OUT of the house!! Then on to house #2....we repeat this until everyone has an area cleaned out. THIS IS SO MUCH FUN! One has to clean quickly (no time to think "will i use this soon?" as many hands carry out what ever you say "i don't want that" Right then & there!) the items are removed from the home..and everyone takes what they want from the "cast-offs"... anything not taken by anyone is donated to a church run thrift store! A swapping of items, a clean area & fun with friends...whats not to like about this!!!

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KelR1

I sell my unwanted books, magazines, DVDs, CDs, etc. to Half Price Books. I sell unwanted clothing and accessories to stores like Plato's Closet, Clothes Mentor, Once Upon a Child, etc. I have a garage sale once every few years. If I can't get rid of it any of these ways, and no one else I know wants it, it gets donated to Goodwill.

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KelR1

Like you on FB.