5 Ways to Get Junk Gone


The beginning of the new year always seems like a good time to get rid of things that you've been meaning to. But sometimes, the reason you haven't gotten rid of a particular piece of junk that is cluttering up your home isn't because you want to hold on to it — or even that it's useful in any way. Sometimes it can just seem entirely impossible to get rid of a particular item.

I've used Freecycle, Craigslist and even just talking to friends to get rid of plenty of things that I didn't necessarily want but still could be used by someone else in the past. But as great as those methods are, there are still some things that they just can't move. I've had stacks of old magazines that no one wants, pieces of scrap metal that simply can't find a good home and rags that just aren't needed. But I don't want to just toss these items in the trashcan: they may be junk, but they may still be useful.

1.  Schools

While no one wants to drop off junk at the local school, they may not see some of the stuff you want to get rid of as junk. A big pile of magazines, for instance, can be extremely useful for a teacher wanting to do collage projects. I've found it easiest to just check individually with teachers on whether or not they have a use for anything in particular.

2.  Animal Shelters

All those towels and sheets that are too torn up for anyone to want? Well, your local animal shelter may have a use for them. Animal shelters routinely have a need for rags, as well as other items that you might otherwise throw away.

3.  Salvage Yards

Just about anything that can be stripped off a car or a building may be able to find a home with a local salvage yard. In many cases, it just has to be in repairable condition — working order is not necessary. In some cases, you may even get money for the items you drop off.

4.  Artists

Many artists, especially those working on sculpture, use a variety of items that other people would consider junk. It's very important to talk to the artist you have in mind before just dropping off a piece of junk, though. The number of crafters and hackers willing to repurpose items is also on the rise.

5.  Recycling Centers

Just because something is junk in its current form doesn't mean that it can't be recycled. Many recycling centers will take items that you can't put in your recycling bin, as long as you bring them in. Most have websites now listing what they'll take — mine accepts a variety of items including vinyl siding, batteries and computer parts. In most cases, if it's metal, they'll also take it.

If, in the end, you still find that you have a piece of junk that absolutely no one wants, there are some options to disposing of it. Depending on your local waste disposal company's policies, you may or may not be able to add things to your regular pick up. For bigger items, taking them to the local dump yourself may be more cost effective — landfills and dumps typically charge by the truck load to drop off junk. There are also a variety of services that will come and remove junk, offering an easy solution for anyone without access to a truck.

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Guest's picture

Please look for a Habitat for Humanity ReStore in your area. I have been volunteering at my local one for five years. We sell new and used furniture, building materials, fasteners, tools, appliances, bathroom fixtures - whatever most folks get rid of when they decide to upgrade. Our local ReStore has made $900K so far and has kept many tons of stuff out of the landfill. Plus donors get a tax write-off. All our profits support only our local Habitat for Humanity efforts.

Guest's picture

For me, what works is to get myself on a donation schedule. Every three months or so, I go thru all of my "clutter". If it hasn't been used since the last time I checked it, I normally just drop it off at the Salvation Army.

Which is tax deductible, of course.

Good post

Guest's picture

Thank-you for that tip! Here's information about H for H ReStores:


Guest's picture

if you have a lot of metal or an appliance, you can ask on craigslist if someone wants it. an itinerant recycler may respond. they're called "metaleros" in L.A., and they'll come and pick it up. they take them to recycling centers and make money this way.

Guest's picture

Don't forget Freecycle.org! It's how I get rid of large things that I don't have the resources to haul around to donate. Just place an offer post, and someone who wants it picks it up. That's how I got rid of a giant and heavy filing cabinet! Keeps it local and keeps things away from the dump.

Guest's picture

Very glad to see that "Artists" made your list, considering the first thing I saw when I saw your picture is "oooo, I'd love to draw that pile of junk!" Aside from scrap metal for sculpturists, artists and painters enjoy any kind of animal bones or taxidermied animal, large collections of similar objects (small stones, leaves, or shells for example), and scraps fancy papers. But artists are so drawn to these types of things that they are themselves often overwhelmed with clutter! :(

Also a note about recycling - check your city's municipal website. Ours has a directory (tied to google map for easy locating) for what you can dispose of or recycle and where. It even includes schools and used bookstores that will accept books!