Ask the Readers: Trash or Cash? (Chance to Win $20!)

By Linsey Knerl on 2 February 2010 (Updated 9 February 2010) 84 comments

*** Congrats to our winners! ***

  • Comment #28:  I will post things for sale  Submitted by BRB on February 2, 2010 - 17:36.  I will post things for sale on ebay or Craigslist if I know that it is worth something. If I'm not sure many times I'll still list it for free on Craigslist or freecycle just so someone else can get some use out of it if they want. Very rarely do those things end up getting thrown away.
  • @darcon3  I do it all! Sell stuff on ebay or craigs list, give away when I get those bags at my door and throw away junk! 

When you find something unusable, broken, or dirty, what do you do? Do you toss it? Give it to a thrift store? Recycle it? Would earning money or merchandise for your troubles (and your trash) incent you to do something better with it?

We're looking for your ideas and tips for trash, recycling, and earning money. Do you find that programs like Reyclebank encourage you to do more with your "stuff," or are you limited in your cash-back recycling efforts due to a limited infrastructure in your area? What do you usually do with stuff you can't use anymore? Do you Craiglist? Freecycle? Does getting something back affect your decisions?

Let us know your stories here in our comment thread or on Twitter, and you'll be entered to win one of two $20 Amazon giveaways. (Yes, that's right! We've doubled our prize money!) Dozens of readers have already won. You could be next!

Win a $20 Amazon Gift Certificate

We're doing two giveaways — one for random comments, and another one for a random tweets.

How to Enter:

  1. Post your answer in the comments below, or
  2. Tweet your answer. Include both "@wisebread" and "#WBAsk" in your tweet so we'll see it and count it.

If you're inspired to write a whole blog post, please link to it in the comments or tweet it.

At the end of the drawing, we'll update this post to include (and link to) all of your helpful responses.

Giveaway Rules:

  • Contest ends Friday, February 5th at 11:59 am CST. Winners will be announced after February 5th on the original post and via Twitter. Winners will also be contacted via email and Twitter Direct Message.
  • You can enter both drawings — once by leaving a comment and once by tweeting.
  • Only tweets that contain both "@wisebread" and "#WBAsk" will be entered. (Otherwise, we won't see it.)

Good luck!

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Kathryn

Most of the time, what I would gain from cleaning something up or fixing it in order to sell it isn't worth the time I'd spend doing it. If it were something potentially valuable, sure. But most of the time, I prefer to give things to thrift stores, charities, or a friend I know might like the item.

Guest's picture

http://twitter.com/sarahbelleisk/status/8552656901

Here is an expanded answer:
I reuse items creatively first (metal orange juice lids can be painted/decorated to make a fun matching game, the backs of cereal boxes that have games/puzzles can be cut out and put in a plastic sheet protector to be enjoyed over and over) and if I can't, I donate to the nearest recycling center.

If its gently used (such as clothing and other useable items) I donate to the local center who helps pass it on to those who really need it.

Thanks for helping me think about it!

Guest's picture
Michael

If it's repairable and worth repairing (eg. not yet another crappy broken TV from Craigslist http://minneapolis.craigslist.org/wsh/zip/1581421519.html) then I'll fix it.

If it's trash, I throw it away.

If it's working and I don't want it, I usually put it on Craigslist for free.

Guest's picture
Justin Hollender

I collect beer and wine bottles from my own stock or from friends and use them when I make batches of my own beer or wine. I try to recycle most things, but there are other items that can be reused or repurposed. There are a ton of ideas online for repurposing items for decoration or other uses.

If it's something that I think somebody else *might* want, I post it on craigslist in the free section, just to see what response I can get.

Guest's picture

I collect it all and then do a bulk donation to goodwill or the local re-use shop.

Guest's picture
Min

I'm a bit of a pack rat. If I can't find on Craigslist a market for an item I'm no longer using, I'll usually just hang on to it until I can give it to someone else who actually needs it.

Guest's picture
Mark

I have a $10 threshold on the value of the item. If it's worth $10 or more then I give it to my wife to post on Freecycle. If it's more than $20 then it goes on craigslist first, then over to freecycle if it doesn't sell quickly.

My wife's freecycle threshold is much lower. I just can't handle all the hassle of arranging a pickup time for a $2 plastic dishrack.

Guest's picture
brian

I usually donate to the salvo, unless it is worth some money and sellable, in which case I put it on Craigslist oh yea!

Guest's picture

I look at the time it would take to prep and sell on craigslist compared to what I would get for it. If it's in decent shape and moderate value (like the 36 inch TV when we got a flatscreen) I'll craigslist it. Clothing, household stuff, etc. that is still usable goes to good will. I try not to throw things out unless they are no longer useful or easily fixable.

I would say the majority of things end up going to good will. You have to be over around $100 before it's worth the time to list on craigslist. I have a small laptop that needs to be listed right now, but everything else that is in the unclutter pile is going to good will.

Guest's picture
Bellen

Broken - unless it's an easy fix we dismantle it and dispose of it accordingly - recycle, repurpose, last resort trash

Dirty and no longer useful to us - clean up and resell at yard sale, only 1 per year allowed by our HOA, or craigslist.

If unable to sell, or too little stuff to sell we donate to our local CARE store (all profits benefit local rape and abuse center)

As we are downsizing to have only what we use, we have been using all these sources a lot lately. Being on fixed income and retired we have the time to repair and clean. We also repurpose a lot - remaking clothes into something we'll use, using extra hurricane shutters to make raised garden beds, 5 gallon buckets for container gardening, metal framed etagere minus glass shelves into an outdoor screening trellis.

A book I read back in the early 80's, "Reuses" by Carolyn Jabs, made me look at all so called trash items differently. So did my Dad - in the late 50's he took the bedspring from an old crib, painted it black, hung it over an upright piano that divided a room and used it as a trellis for a vining plant. He never told anyone what he did because he didn't want to be embarassed by his thriftyness.

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Pam Munro

If it has value as a yardsale item, I will save it for a yeardsale - or give it away to a friend who needs it - I have outdoor furniture I supply, hoping it will hang around a while before being STOLEN, so I have to provide more furniture! After any yardsale, the residue gets donated to a thrift shop. I have known people who have found things, cleaned them up & then sold them at yard sales.

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Shaylasr

We have an extra large size, heavy duty, lawn bag in one of our closets. When someting doesn't fit any longer, or sorting through toys not played with, or things no longer wanted or needed all go in the bag. When it's full we tie it up and bring it out to a desginated area of the garage. When we have accummulated enough stuff we have a thrift sale. What doesn't sell is donated to local charities that can use the items. This has worked well for us. We also invite family, friends & neighbors to join in the thrift sale if they would like to. We make a little extra cash and also make a donation. Just because you can't use it any longer - there is always someoneout there who would love to have that item and if they can get it at a greatly reduced price (we price our items to sell - not to get rich!) all the better! We have given many things to people for free that really needed an item but could not even afford the small amount it may be priced at.

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Lynda

It would depend on what it is. If it is something that is still useable or just needs a bit fixing up and I simply don't want it anymore, I would just leave it on my lawn with a "free" sign - I've done this with bookcases, lamps, computer monitors, and even encyclopedias. This is if I am too lazy to deal with Craigslist and don't care about getting money back for it and want to get rid of it right away. If I don't care about getting rid of it right away, I will save it up for our quarterly donation to Goodwill or Veterans of America. Craigslist is reserved for things I would like to get money back for, but this takes more time and patience...

If it is something completely broken and not useable (aka trash), I'd just toss it.

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Guest

Most things I find are not worth the time or effort to fix up and sell. There are scavengers/recyclers in our neighborhood who will pick up scrap metal, broken electronics, or non-working appliances for free; they can have it. Damaged-beyond-repair clothes become cleaning rags; old towels or bedding go to the dogs (ours or the nearby shelter). Clothes I don't want anymore are exchanged at a clothing swap with friends. Pretty much anything else that's functional that we don't want goes to goodwill, or free on Craigslist if we don't want to schlep it ourselves. Non-functional items get re-used or recycled if at all possible; trash is the last resort.

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Alan

Items that are obviously trash we just discard or recycle. We recycle a lot now but we would do more if we had collection at our apartment complex. Items we no longer want and are in good shape we will donate to the Salvation Army, Goodwill, or a friend who might need it.

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Sara A

Small items get sent to goodwill if they are still usable, trashed if they are not. Large items can get posted on craigslist. Electronics usually go on craigslist. Phones, ipods, etc we trade in to refurbishment companies. Books, DVDs, and software go to our local library's used bookstore fundraiser.

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connie

I used to place everything that I had onto freecycle. Gave away some pretty good stuff and it felt good, but then there were a couple of instances where people did some pretty nasty things. And other times when someone acted kinda stalkerish. So now I just drop it all off at Sally Ann.

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Megan

We like to trade items with our friends. It's fun to swap out items that we're not using for something we can and at the same time help out our friends. Everyone wins and things don't get sent to the recycling bin or trash can.

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csdx

Honestly, I'll likely toss it out, but that's because most stuff I find like that is either in rather poor condition, or just plain dirty. But I'll usually check on ebay to see if it's worth selling, my breakpoint is usually around $5 bucks or so. For bulkier items I guess I'd craigslist, but I've not accumulated enough furniture to have that issue. If anything I've picked up pieces of furniture that were being curb-sided.

I guess I do just toss any bottles (on the rare occasions we have them) into the recycle bin instead of bringing them in to claim our deposits.

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Beth

All we do is put it out on the street. Someone always comes and takes it away. We've gotten rid of everything from old toilets to toys this way.

Guest's picture

Rethink, Reduce, Repair, Reuse, Recycle

Keeping our trash level low is our first goal (rethink). If something is still usable, I give it to the thrift store, even if I could reuse it, as in making dog toys from old T-shirts. If it's too icky to wear (stained, ripped, etc.), then it gets upcycled, even if that just means turning it into cleaning rags.

However, I won't save something for upcycling unless I have a definite notion of what I can actually make from it. And I try very hard to ensure that everything I make has a purpose beyond being simply decorational.

One tip I really appreciated was knowing that animal shelters are always very grateful for used sheets and blankets for their critters. Dropping off a box of unusable sheets there made the staff so happy!

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Sushi

It depends on the item. If I can use it, I keep it. If it's usable only to someone else then I'll put it up for sale on Craigslist or eBay. If it's something that I can repair and the repairs aren't extensive, then I'll repair and either sell it, give it away, or keep it, depending on the value and whether I'll actually use it. If it's beyond repair, then it goes in the trash or recycling bin.

Guest's picture
Brenden

If is something that would very likely sell for a good price at a garage sale, then we put it in the garage sale box for the next garage sale that we can be a part of.
If it is something that is in fine shape, or easily laundered, but maybe wouldn't sell for as much, we put in a box or bag to take to Goodwill.
If it is recyclable garbage, it goes into recycling.
If it is unrecyclable, it goes into the trash.

Guest's picture
cwaltz

It would depend on what it was. If I think it is something I can immediately recycle or use then I keep it. I try not to keep to much "spare" stuff around our house though. Our house isn't large and keeping stuff on the off chance I might need it doesn't make sense.

Christine

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Emily

There's FreeCycle in my area, but I prefer to use Craigslist, so long as someone else can come pick up the item. Sometimes it's easier to just toss things, unfortunately, particularly if there are time constraints.

Guest's picture
gt0163c

For items that are truly trash, I either throw them away or recycle them. No chance of getting cash for them where I am. But since I'm a single person household, I don't generate a lot of waste, so I only have to pay for a small trash bin (which comes with a small recycle bin. I've thought about upgrading the size of my recycle bin; I can do that for free. But I can usually get by with the small one).

I do keep some "trash" items that are still usable. I use glass jars as drinking glasses and glass and plastic bottles for mixing up Gatorade, Koolaid and powdered milk. If I have an immediate need, I use plastic containers with lids to help with organizing things. And I've found that cut down plastic milk jugs are great for holding nails and screws while doing large home improvement projects.

For items that aren't trash but that I no longer need, I sometimes give them to friends or save them for our church's annual garage sale to raise money for mission trips. Small random things get put into a box that becomes the White Elephant gift box around the holidays. Random keychains, promotional DVDs, non-food samples and such fill that box.

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Kelli

Unless, of course, it can be cleaned/fixed and I (or someone I know) has a use for it.

Guest's picture
BRB

I will post things for sale on ebay or Craigslist if I know that it is worth something. If I'm not sure many times I'll still list it for free on Craigslist or freecycle just so someone else can get some use out of it if they want. Very rarely do those things end up getting thrown away.

Guest's picture
Brian

We used to recycle what we could at the local recycle center, but our local newspaper discovered a few months ago that most of the items that people thought they were recycling had just been going to the landfill...for years! So, we have stopped "recycling" since it was fake recycling.

We do take our old clothes, appliances, and toys to the Salvation Army. If we think we can sell it, then we might list it on eBay, but almost everything goes to the Salvation Army or to the garbage.

All in all, no ideas for recycling from me, since our area is a complete fail at running a recycling organization. I wish the problem would be fixed soon so we could start up again!

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Guest

I donate EVERYTHING to the EASTER SEALS. These people are wonderful. They call me at home once every 6-7 weeks. They give me two weeks notice when they will show up. They then call me the night prior to PICKUP AT MY HOME! I've done this for three years now. They leave a tax deductible form on the door. I leave their stuff on my porch with a tag on it for them. Many times they will ask specifically for warm mens clothes or womens clothes etc.

They even take big items and are thrilled to get them! Two tv's of our recently went to a group home for disabled adults! h
EVERYONE PLEASE THINK ABOUT THIS LITTLE KNOWN ABOUT CHARITY WHO CALLS ME AND THANKS ME FOR HELPING THEM!

Guest's picture
Glen

We have a rubbermaid container that holds things we no longer use. At the end of the month, I go through the tub and see what is eBayable and what should just be donated. Some things I look for are would this be worth my time to list on eBay? Will someone else be able to get use out of it. Sometimes it's clothes that just don't fit, or old electronics that I have upgraded.

Guest's picture
Guest

I am all for reusing and recycling, and I'm definitely pro donation, but I think that when you donate things you need to be realistic about whether or not someone else is going to want it. If you don't want something anymore because it doesn't work, no one else will want to pay money for it at a thrift store.

I do, however, think that setting things on the curb with a POst-It saying FREE is an amazing way to pass on less than perfect things. I've even done it with food that I didn't want to eat. (Canned green beans, anyone?)

Guest's picture
Brian

It's good to evaluate what I've got and what's worth going after or repairing. Time is money.

If I think I can swing it, then I'll go for it.

Firstly, I'll try and hock it for a reasonable price. If I can't, then I'll try and donate it for a tax deduction. If I can't even give it away for free, then (sadly) it will go in the trash.

Bottom line? Reduce, reuse, recycle. Going green can actually make a little green in my wallet sometimes.

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megan

I donate everything I can. One woman's trash is another's treasure.

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GuestJustin

I've pulled an end table out of the burn pile to refinish it and I still use it today. I found a beat up tobaggin and refinished it and nearly broke my neck going too fast down too steep of a hill, I have a 20 year old truck that gets me from a to b. If I was rich I'd probably do way more stuff like this, I'd need a barn for it all!

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Guest

...is not always gross and dangerous. After my freshman year of college, I noticed that my peers were throwing away quite a few things in the dumpsters outside. One reason is that there's a rather short timeframe between finals and move-out day. However, in my mind this doesn't excuse the massive amounts of furniture, clothing, office supplies and perfectly packaged food that get thrown out. I went dumpster diving one day and found (on top of other clean items:

-two brand-name thermal sport shirts
-$5 in change
-three unused spiral notebooks
-a teddy bear from the school bookstore
-two clean, folded cotton t-shirts

I shared the change with a nearby janitor and took the rest of my spoils home. I washed the clothing, of course, but now my dad and I each have a perfectly good thermal shirt for skiing. I've used the notebooks, I sleep in the t-shirts, and I keep the teddy bear. I'm not above using perfectly useful, cleanable stuff.

A great way to cut down on waste from college campuses would be to have people at the dumpsters to intercept and sort useful items at various times during finals week, and especially on move-out day. Goodwill and other non-profits leave donation barrels, but they quickly overflow and simply aren't enough to handle the volume of items some students are willing to throw away. The university has an official policy against dumpster-divers, to discourage homeless people, and it's sad to see so much go to waste.

Guest's picture
Kelli

I try to give things away in my network of friends and then post it on a local Freecycle email group. I've received many useful items through both groups. Otherwise, we try to reuse as much as possible and throw away very little (composting diapers through a service, composting food scraps, recycling paper and containers through the city, using the city's yard waste service -- and picking up finished compost through the city as well).

Guest's picture
Kat

Well if its "unusable,broken or dirty" it gets dismantled and the metal parts taken and sold to the scrap yard. I also sell paper and magazine to a paper factory. Whatever is left goes to the dump, we have a free dump day once a month. Everyone should see the landfill just once it is unbelievabe the amount of trash we make!!!!!!!

Guest's picture
Ken

I used to freecycle a lot but have become very disappointed in the local group here and ended up leaving that group. Too many admins were snatching all the good stuff before they allowed it to be posted.

If it is of use to me and I feel it is worth my time I'll fix it up. If it is useful but not needed by me I'll usually donated it to the local thrift store.

If it isn't useful but is recyclable then that is where it will go.

Finally if there is no way to pass it on to a useful place it will go in the trash.

Guest's picture
Therese

We donate most of our unwanted items to charity.

Guest's picture
Rosa

Things that are unusable to us (clothes my son outgrew, kitchen gizmos I didn't use, etc) I donate them. Clothes that are actually trashed - stained, torn - go to the charity in town (Goodwill) that sells unusable clothing as rags.

Things that are actually unusable (old boombox that no longer plays CDs or radio but will play cassettes!) get trashed.

But dirty things I just wash and use. Or wash and donate - every year we clean out the gutters during spring melt, so the storm drains don't clog up. We find a ton of hats and mittens. I wash them and donate them.

Guest's picture
Eris

Well, it depends on the items. Generally, if I think I can get $10 or so for an item, I will ebay or craigslist it.
Speciality items I freecycle, or something that Goodwill won't take. (Fancy shampoo I bought and didn't like).
Everything else is trash or donation, depending on the condition.

Guest's picture
Em

I Ebay small items likely to sell for more than $15 and sell media on Amazon. Everything else goes to SVDP or a neighborhood swap. I try to give as good as I've gotten from thrift stores in the past... for the karma ;)

We repurpose furniture whenever possible, but we'll be putting a few items on Craigslist soon, and I've donated many items to Goodwill and SVDP over the years.

Good childrens' clothing is passed on to other families, adult clothing in good condition is donated, damaged clothing is used for rags or disassembled to re-use the fabric and notions in sewing projects.

Broken appliances, metal scrap too large for us to handle, weird items that aren't salable but might be useful to someone else just go on the curb. We have a healthy curb-shopping and scrapping community here.

Guest's picture
Lindsay K.

Good call on the turning adult clothing into rags thing, I do that too! I had a bunch of crappy t-shirts I only wear to bed, so I finally cut them up and used them to dry my face after washing it. Cuts down on getting my nice handtowels dirty as often, and it assures me that my face is being touched by a nice, clean rag rather than that dirty handtowel.

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odżywki

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Guest's picture

I may give it to a charity shop but most of the time I would simply bin it.

Guest's picture
Lindsay K.

For a few years, we had my Grandma's accordion. She did not want it anymore, we basically inherited it "early." It was an extremely nice model, though, and it was straight from 1965 in Germany.

I thought about learning how to play it, but eventually it just sat gathering dust in the garage. Well, sometime a few months later I realized who I could give it to. The theater teacher at my high school was (still is) very keen on set design. He is the type of director who, if he's got the spare change in his budget, will not hesitate to throw down $200 for an authentic ballpoint pen from the exact era of the play. It made our school look better and more accomplished than even the nearby theater-focused charter school! Seriously, his sets are impressive. When you heard that he spent $7000 on Arsenic & Old Lace, you didn't say "$7000?!" you said "ONLY $7000?"

We all tend to set things aside saying "Oh, I might use this someday" - but in theater, that's usually TRUE! So I thought my high school theater dept would be the perfect new home for the accordion. My teacher got more props to add to his stock, and my parents got a tax write-off. Win all around!

To sum up, if you have something that is not of need in this day and age (like an old apple macintosh or tv straight from the 40's), consider donating it to a theater. They will most certainly find a use for it eventually, and your gift saves a lot of time and money that would otherwise be spent hunting down a rare item or trying to order one.

Guest's picture

Here is what I do (and not in any particular order).

If its just dirty--I try to clean it.

if its broken, I try to fix it.

If its simply unwanted, I try to A) Sell it on the internet, B) Sell it to a friend, C) Give it away, or D) Donate it.

When doanting, I will always let the place know if the item is broken or not, just so they don't think I am dumpong stuff on them.

After all else, I would throw it away

Guest's picture
gina

I wish I was creative enough to turn something old into a recycled item! I ususally try to donate unless it is truly unusable.

Guest's picture
Olivia

Ah so many possibilities. Good usable clothing goes to thrift stores. Bad clothes are cut down for rags or quilting projects. Wooden furniture is fixed and used. (Most of our stuff is "vintage".) If not used by us, then yard saled or freecycled or given to those who need it depending on when the opportunity occurs. Other stuff is gathered and yard saled or posted in the local paper for sale in the free ads section. Computer stuff is given to a local freecycler who repairs them and gives them to families who don't have a computer. (That guy is a gem.) Things that don't sell are freecycled or givien to the local thrift store. (Where they probably came from in the first place.) Odd ball broken electronics are given to a young kid we know who loves to dismantle things. Then there's creative reuse, the regular recycling during trash day, and composting of organic stuff and shredded papers.

Guest's picture
Guest

We have had many items taken if we just put them on the curb!

Guest's picture
Eric Starker

I recycle everything I can... but have a pile of stuff accumulating by my door that I need to give away. Freecycle is another good option that I've used.

Guest's picture
Jamie

If it's in good shape, I donate it to Goodwill or, if it is kids clothes/items, to a family that might need the extra help. I don't try to sell anything that I don't think I can get at least $50 out of. If it's not in good shape, it goes in the trash.

I reuse a lot of things like Ziplock storage bags and freezer wrap. I take good care of my clothes and shoes so that I can wear them a long time. I try to just use as little of something as possible.

Guest's picture
peggy

Craigslist is free to use and it takes very little time for me to take pictures and post items up for sale. If nobody buys it (I usually give it 2 weeks) then the item goes to the curb with a Free sign on it until the trashmen come.

I have had bad experience with freecycle in my area, so I avoid using it, or I just post when the item is out on the curb for whoever fancies it to come pick up. No more dealing with greedy folks who email me relentlessly to "hold" the item for them even though they wont come pick it up.

For books and electronics, I have had success selling via half.com or amazon. Though they take a huge percentage commission, it is a relatively painless process.

And finally, sometimes junk is really junk that belongs in the trash.

Guest's picture
Heather

I live in a tiny, tiny room that I rent from friends while trying to get on my feet. No matter what, I always feel like I have too much stuff. So, as I identify things I no longer need, I process them this way:

1. Is it of high quality, and something I know a friend could use?
2. Is it of high quality/worth something, and I don't know a friend that could use it?
3. Is it worn but still has use, I just don't like it enough to keep it?

If #1 is true, I give it away to a friend -- if they don't want it, I attempt to sell it on Bonanzle or Craigslist.
If #2 is true, I go to Bonanzle, eBay or Craigslist.
If #3 is true, it goes to the local Goodwill.

Most of the battle is determining what needs to go...

Guest's picture
Christie

A group leader here on the web calls STUFF --Stuff That Undermines Family Fun. Her name is Flylady and she is all about decluttering. I have been decluttering for a while, and seem to need to do it often, no matter how little I buy. How to get rid of stuff is a problem though.

Since the new lead laws have changed, our local Salvation Army, resale stores, and Goodwill have stopped carrying children's clothing, toys, and supplies altogether. If you were planning to take anything there with a zipper, any kind of decoration, a patch, or pretty much anything except a plain t-shirt, don't. They throw it all away. Find a family that would need things in the sizes that you are giving away. Freecycle or Craigslist would work too.

For myself, I usually save the things I need to give away until I have a few boxes, then donate them to a local resale store. We have some great ones locally, and they appreciate having nice things to sell!

Guest's picture
Aya

While I would love to sell some of my used but still good items, I tend to either throw away or donate (if it's clothing). I've also used listserv in the area for people freecycling. Parenting listserv is very useful for selling gently used baby items (even shoes) as they are hardily in a terrible condition.

Guest's picture
linda

If it is something still good, we offer to friends and if they don't want it we either bring it to Habistore (building stuff etc. proceeds go to Habitat for Humanity) or Goodwill(or the like). It it isn't good but is recyclable we always recycle. Sometimes it is just no good and we have to throw away.
Recently we had a vacuum cleaner that didn't work anymore so we couldn't donate but didn't want to throw away. We found a vacuum cleaner store that also did repairs and asked if we could donate it to them? They were happy to take it to repair and sell.

Guest's picture
Diasdiem

But every now and then I find a way to repurpose stuff. Someone in my apartment junked a vacuum cleaner that looked like the only thing wrong with it was a frayed cord. It was frayed near the base of the cleaner, so I just disconnected it, lopped off about a foot and a half of cord to get rid of the frayed part, and reconnected it. Works like a charm. And lately I've been taking old incandescent light bulbs, hollowing them out, and after creating a nice little stand out of wire turning them into reed diffusers and vases.

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Jeanne

There's not really even a recycling program where I live--the garbage service only picks up one kind of container. So I don't actually get to recycle the papers, bottles, cans, etc. However, I try to be very careful about the things I throw away. If it's something that I could sell or donate to goodwill, then I will do so. The other thing that I do is "recycle" my books with Paperback Swap. It's fun and easy, and I love knowing that I'm sending off a book that I don't want anymore to someone who does!

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Kimberly

I try to find a creative use for the item, or think if anyone I know needs it. If it's really broken I will Freecycle it (with full disclosure) if it seems valuable enough. Clothes, shoes, books get donated to charity periodically.

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Mikal

I happen to be one of those people who can see the potential in almost anything. So, I recycle and repair what I can. I also "collect" items that are headed for the trash from other family members (different households) and friends. I repair and reuse some of those, yard sale the stuff I don't need, and give the remainder to the local Goodwill or homeless shelter.

It might be time consuming and not worth the monetary value in terms of my time, but I feel that reusing and recycling is helping our future generations by conserving the natural resouces of our planet.

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Make money selling online. Yes, ebay, & craigslist is a great way to sell unwanted items but to really make money it must not be junk in the first place. In my pf blog, I talk about eliminating debt by following the principles of Dave Ramsey & John Cummuta.

Dollars Not Debt

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Jill

At our house my husband and I recycle just about everything. Our trash company has a zero sort trash program that makes it very simple. It also saves us a bunch of money on our trash bill since they offer unlimited free recycling. All we have to do is fill one bin with paper (any type of paper) and one bin with plastics, metals, and glass (any and all plastics, metals and glass!). We put it out during our usual pick up and away it goes. Because of all the recycling we do we only signed up for biweekly trash pickups and we have the smallest container available (3 bags every two weeks). When you take everything recyclable out there isn’t much left. We even have a 13 month old baby filling up diapers left and right and we don’t even fill our trash bin. Because of our reduced trash we only pay $22.00 per month for trash service. I would have to say that it’s a pretty good deal all around. We save money and the planet!!

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Andrea

If I can fix it up and use it, then I will. If not, depending on the item, I may try to recycle it, or post it to Freecycle or the free section of Craigslist to see if someone else can do something with it. Alternately, I'll leave it out on the sidewalk with a FREE sign (a common thing to do where I live), which is surprisingly effective. I only throw it out if there's no other option.

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Susanne

It depends on what it is and what kind of effort needs to go into fixing it or cleaning it up. When we have something we can't use anymore we sell it if we can (eBay, Craigslist, resale shops), give it away if we can't sell it or know someone who needs it (Freecycle), donate it only if it's something that would really be useful to someone else, recycle it if we can't sell it, give it away or donate it, and toss it as a last resort. There are things we toss that I wish I could think of a creative use for! I'm not a creative person so that's a struggle for me. Loved reading others ideas here!

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Darci

If it's something I really don't need or want, here's what I do with it (depending on it's condition) in order:

give it to someone
try craigslist
donate
see if my childs school can use it in any way
recycle (which is limited in my area)
trash

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Emmy

Since I moved from WI, and their mandatory recycling, I find myself throwing everything away. My community outside of Chicago does not make recycling easy, or even possible. I tried Freecycle, but even then could not get people to actually pick-up my junk. Until my community supports recycling, everything is going in the trash.

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Emmy

Oh, we have people that go through the alleys, so if we have something big, electrical, or useful, we will leave it by the garbage can, and someone will take it.

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Mariel Martinez

I think most questions should be answered by starting: It depends... If I believe someone will use it, I donate it (when my mom lets me), otherwise I sell it. I have never recycle anything, except for when I was in Japan... In that country they recycle almost everything... I love that place for that...

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Shaun

If it's usable or can be adapted I will donate or keep it if it's something I truly need. I rarely throw things away.

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Guest

I used all three sites to get my goodies and pass on any stuff that I dont' need. Either sell or trade the items away. As for my personal trash, I used to recycle all the cardboard and paper in the blue bin. When I found out how much the city was charging me for trash, I stop giving the city the "good" recycle stuff like plastic bottles, newspaper, metal,and cardboard. Instead I take them to the dump when I know they will get recycle and I earn extra cash. I don;t live too far so I doesn;t hurt mother earth that bad.

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Clara B.

This question comes at a good time, since my husband and I recently moved to a new home and were faced with the fact that we had accumulated more than any two humans should possess. Since we'd made the decision to downsize in large part because we both wanted to simplify our lives, we tackled "decluttering" with enthusiasm. Here's some of what we did (and continue to do):

* we are taking several valuable pieces of furniture to a consignment store.
* we've used Craigslist to sell several pieces of inexpensive furniture as well as electronics and household goods.
* we used the "free" section of Craigslist to give away things that we did not have the energy to sell, but that we felt might be useful to others.
* we used the "free" section of Craigslist to give away the boxes we'd used for packing -- we got them in the first place through a similar listing on Craigslist.
* we will ask Habitat for Humanity to pick up a few pieces of furniture and household goods that we realized wouldn't work in our new home AFTER we'd moved.
* We donated bags and bags of clothing to Goodwill.
* We've sold dozens of our used books and CDs on amazon.com.
* we're considering engaging a trading assistant to sell some things for us on ebay.
* I put together "goodie bags" of art supplies that I had duplicates of or new I wouldn't use, and set them aside for two friends that I thought would be interested in them.

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judyyy

My aunt has a consignment shop so I take good clean usuable stuff that I no longer want to her and use the money for savings. If I have dirty trashy stuff I throw it away. No way to recycle much where I live.

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Shaun McGowan

I collect cans and bottles, papers and clothes from my own stock or from neighbors and tried to recycle most things
If there were something potentially valuable, sure. But most of the time, I prefer to give things charities.

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Linden

I am not very creative, or very handy. If it looks like cleaning is the only issue, I will wash or wipe down and use it myself or offer it to a friend. If there are no takers, I donate it to the thrift shop next time I go. Often, however, I just leave things and hope that someone with a more creative or handiman (or woman) bent will see it and make use of it.

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Brenda H. Turner

Books, cd's, magazines, dvd's went to the local library. Formals, prom dresses, bridesmaids dresses went to the local community theater. Household goods went to the Habitat for Humanity store. We try to reuse jars, plastic containters, etc. for storage of small items. We don't throw it away unless we can find no possible use for it.

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lisa

I try really hard not to just throw stuff out that other people could find useful. I have a box for goodwill, and when it's full, I drop it off. I also post stuff on freecycle regularly. In addition, I shop at goodwill, on craigslist, and ask on freecycle for stuff that I'm in need of so that I can buy used rather than add to the junk collection of the world.

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Shea

When I do manage to break out of my packrat mental attitude, I find that Goodwill and Craigslist are the best friends that I could have. I've sold lots of stuff on Craigslist and met some of the nicest people doing it. Whatever is left is sent to Goodwill. I get the tax right off for it and someone else gets a great bargain.

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Trang

I either sell my unwanted items on Craigslist, or donate them to the Am. Council for the Blind. I try hard not to throw anything away.

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Stephanie

We typically donate all of our unwanted items. Most of them we give to AMVETS, but we do occasionally Freecycle them also. I try not to throw too much away, but if the item is extremely worn or in pretty bad shape, then we'll just toss it. I usually find it's not worth the effort to try to sell our unwanted atuff.

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Carmen

if I don't think it's worth my time or effort, but it's something someone else might be able to fix, use or clean up, I'll try and find a home for it. Rummage sales (sometimes free piles), Freecycle, or charity donations (if it's not in bad shape).

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Candi

When I no longer want or need an item, I start with my circle of friends and acquaintances to see if one of them wants to give the item a new home. For a lower value item, it goes to a local thrift store. For furniture, I contact a local consignment store who will pick up the item and sell it for me. I get a percentage, and if it doesn't sell, they'll deliver it to the thrift store for me. I get the tax deduction but don't have to throw out my back moving a large item.