Choosing the right home for your stuff

The intention for this post is to help you choose the best way to dispose of the objects you are decluttering. Some objects will be just trash but for others you will be endeavouring to find new homes either by donating to a charity, giving them to someone else or selling them.

There are often emotions involved when it comes to clutter. Finding the right home for your things can make the decision to let go a lot easier. For example it feels easier to let go if you…

  • Know that the procedes of donating your items to charity will help someone in need.
  • Get a little money back by selling your items.
  • Know your items will be appreciated when giving them to family or friends who have admired them.
  • Doing the right thing for the environment by finding a way to recycle items you thought were good for nothing.

Donating to charity is simple. In some places it is as simple as making a phone call and the charity will come to you to collect your items. In some cases you just amass the objects until you have a car load and then drop them off to a charity near you.  I won’t go into specific details as to what charity to use because that will be different depending where you are in the world. I am sure everyone is aware of a charity in their area that you can either drop off or phone for a pickup.

Be mindful of what you send to charity. They will not accept certain item because of safety and/or hygiene reasons. They may or may not accept mattresses or sofas that are stained. Some won’t accept mattresses at all. They usually will not accept underpants, for obvious reasons, unless they are new with tags on. Also, please make sure any items that you send to a charity are clean and in useable condition (working order). Soiled and broken items will be rejected and the charities end up having to pay huge fees to send loads of these uncharitable donations to landfill. If in doubt about what the charity will accept just phone them and ask.

Selling is a great way to eleviate the guilt of having spent money on an object that you didn’t get good value out of. It is also a good way to redeem a little cash to help pay off credit card debt that you probably shouldn’t have racked up in the first place.

I mostly sell on eBay but there are also other world wide sites like Craiglist. These are not the only options though. My husband’s work place has a on-line community board where employees can post For Sale ads, maybe you have such a resource. Australia has Trading Post and Gun Tree and others I am sure. Most places will have newspapers that also have on-line classified. My daughter once sold some old clothes using Facebook as her advertising medium. Just use your imagination or google something like “Selling Online” and see what comes up.

It is important however when advertising items to give a detailed description of exactly what the item is you are selling and what that includes. Just as important is to be honest about the condition the item is in. Just because something doesn’t work or isn’t complete doesn’t mean someone won’t want it. Parts can be just is valuable to people as the whole. If you think an item is worth selling why not give it a go.

Giving to family and friends is can be a very satisfying way to pass things on. Particularly things that you have held dear for some time. Perhaps things that have been handed down to you from other family members. If someone you know admires something you have decided to declutter they would be a good candidate to offer this item too. Always make certain that the person you offer it to only takes it if they truly want it. Make sure you explain that there is no obligation and you won’t be upset if they turn down your offer.

Giving to family and friends isn’t always about precious objects it can also be about useful objects. My father recently gave my brother his ride-on mower because my father no longer lives on a large property but my brother has a vacant block of land to mow.

Other ways to give stuff away.

  • Freecycle is a great resource for giving things away. Especially those odd things that aren’t suitable for charity or for selling.
  • Putting stuff out on the footpath with a free sign on it has also worked well for me in the past.
  • One of our readers occasionally leaves a box in the foyer of their apartment building with free items in. You could possibly do this at your place of work or at a community group that you visit like a children’s playgroup.
  • When I lived in the US there was a homeless man that was often begging at my freeway exit who I used to give things to every now and again. One day I even brought him a hot meal, he was very happy about that.
  • Rachel, one of our readers is having a give away morning on the 20th of August to reduce her stuff before moving into a smaller dwelling. Hows that for ingenuity.

The options are endless. Once again just use your imagination. Today I googled “Give stuff away” and came up with some sites I didn’t know about like, and I didn’t check to see how good they were but I did find those and many more.

Recycling is an important aspect to decluttering. Anything that can be recycled should be disposed of responsibly. There are several way I go about this….

  1. I put any items, that are suitable, into my recycling bin. Your local government department in charge of the collection of these bins will most likely have a web site giving clear instruction as to what type of items are suitable to go in them.
  2. Larger items that may have some potential for recycling get saved until our local council has a curbside pick-up day. This is where you put the bigger items that won’t go in the trash or recycling out on the street for pick-up. Old mattresses, furniture, televisions, building materials and many other items are suitable for this type of collection. Many of these items will have components for recycling. I find that, in my area, the piles of stuff awaiting pick-up are well picked over and deminished in volume by the time the actual collection day happens. What is collected is sorted into trash and recyclables and treated accordingly.
  3. There are often designated drop off areas or special drop of days for the recycling of certain items. Batteries, paint, electrical goods, chemicals etc are often disposed of in this way. Once again you can utilise your search engine by typing something like “recycle batteries (name of your city)” and helpful information will likely pop up.
  4. Once again Freecycle is also a good way to recycle or repurpose items that are no longer in working order. I have given away pieces of furniture  and electrical items on Freecycle. There are often folks out there who are happy to fix of use the parts for these items.

I hope this post has helped you find some ways to responsibly rehouse or recycle your unwanted items. You will have peace of mind knowing your once precious things are going to good homes. And I can not stress enough how important it is to do the right thing by the environment, by keeping perfectly good stuff out of landfill and by decreasing the demand for the production of new products.

Here is a link to a guide I am slowing adding to that gives you ideas and web sites that will help you find appropriate places to donate and recycle.

Today’s Declutter Item

Some more t-shirts off to the thrift store today when I go to do my volunteer work. 

My husbancs T-shirts

Something I Am Grateful For Today

I love how fast my donations leave the house now that I am volunteering at the thrift store where I drop them off. Last week I even dropped something off for my neighbour. I am grateful the the lovely people at the thrift store have made me feel so at home there already. I look forward to going each time. It is wonderful to see the stuff walking out the door to be reused by someone else.

It matters not how fast I go, I hurry faster when I’m slow

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About Colleen Madsen

Colleen is the founder of 365 Less Things and lives in Newcastle, Australia.


  1. Great advice! I tend to fall into the camp that donates, donates, donates. I’ve done selling, particularly of books and DVDs via Amazon or on Craigslist, but it was such a hassle that I tend to just give things away. And if I feel a twinge of guilt, I consider that my lesson and a reminder not to buy/acquire things I won’t care about in the future. I’ve had friends ask me to participate in group yard sales, but I never have enough stuff since I’m always donating!

    • Hi Christa from IKHIBF,
      I actually enjoy having garage sales but, like you, I haven’t over the course of my decluttering mission. Yes I probably could have made some money but it would mean accumulating all the stuff I usually donate in my garage for months on end. As you can imagine that would be a pain in my derrière. The sooner the stuff is out of here, once I decide to get rid of it, the better I say.

  2. Some great advice there Colleen!

    Would also like to add that any old towells, duvets. balnkets that arn’t suitable for the charity shop can be donated to your local dogs home, these are items that i would normally have put in the rubbish.

    I have today sorted some old towells and bed sheets ready to go to the dog and cat home, and whilst i was bagging them up my Son reminded me of the 2 crates (hangover from dog breeding days) and bag of cat litter that was in the garage and no longer required. I just love how this decluttering bug is spreading through my family 🙂 The garage is always the place i forget about!! Car is now loaded ready to be dropped off in the morning. Now if only i could get my husband to start on his tools….

    Sharron x

    • Hi Sharron,
      I have since added a link to my guide to donating and recycling. It is a work in progress but it does mention donating linen items to animal shelters.

      Funny that you forget about your garage but mine is a real focal point for me. Mainly because it stores all my declutter items awaiting drop of at the thrift store but also because it stores a lot of stuff I would rather see the back of.

  3. Great list, and very well thought out.

  4. Hi Colleen! Most of the stuff I got out of my house was either donated or recycled. I have that tiny problem with my husband about selling stuff, so I try to recycle and donate. But sometimes you just can’t keep the stuff from going to the bin. I found your suggestions very good.

  5. Hello all,

    Some non-profit organizations post a Wish List on their website. We automatically think of sheets and towels for the animal shelter, and toiletries for the women’s shelter, but they might wish for office supplies, tools, or kitchen utensils for the staff room . We’ve donated a fridge, dishwasher and snowblower to the wildlife centre – things we wouldn’t think of donating. The wish list pinpointed things they needed.

    If you are an enthusiastic crafter, you probably make more things than you can find homes for. I donate my nature-themed crafts to the wildlife centre and they sell them in their gift shop. A hospital gift shop may welcome donations of hand-made cards, jewelry or other small items.

  6. Hi Colleen,
    One more for your list: those non-recyclable plastic lids and “bits and bobs”, bits of material after you’ve cut out what you want, easter egg foil, those ends of wool when you’ve sewn up your knitting or crochet, old magazines with pictures in them (and other possible “making” oddments are all welcomed at your local kindergarten or playcentre. I used to send cardboard boxes, egg cartons, etc. along as well, until recycling arrived in our city. they all find their way home as “art” with some proud child.

  7. Hi Colleen,
    I think if one likes to sell at yard sales and actually has the chance to do so, the action would be to define the amount of boxes you are willing to take (assuming you have space for them in the garage or any other place where they don’t make your daily life difficult). It should match reality and so should its contents. If you are going to sell once a year and know that people are mainly looking for x, y and z on that sale, donate things that don’t fall in that category and don’t just add boxes but stick to a number of well edited yard sale boxes you’ve defined.
    It can be nice to sell at a fleamarket but it is an unnecessary burden to have more boxes than you can take with you anyway because then no matter how nice your results are, you’ll always think “had I taken the other box …”
    I think selling (or trying to sell rather;-) can also be a great tool of getting less attached to stuff you are probably not ready to donate. Fleamarkets readjust our perception of what is valuable (as in: getting money for it) pretty well.
    I think for people who don’t enjoy selling it is great to donate everything and to do it fast. I just wanted to point out it’s not an either or. You can enjoy selling at yard sales from time to time AND donate because a reasonable limit to sale-stuff makes things more fun and probably more rewarding anyway.

    • Hi Ideealistin,
      I agree entirely. I love to have garage sales, I enjoy the thrill I get every time I make a sale and seeing the stuff walking out of the place. My kids always enjoyed them too. But it is one of those individual likes or dislikes. I have also had flea-market stalls and done very well with them. This time around however I have been very happy to mostly donate or sell on ebay. I would never discourage anyone from giving all options a try. I have a garage sales tips page that is very helpful for anyone wanting to give it a try.

  8. Great guide. I think a lot of people probably don’t realize that donating unusable items to charity shops is actually the opposite of helpful or generous, and it’s good to be reminded about our other options for getting rid of things, too. Although it’s just much less work not to acquire them in the first place, I’m definitely not there yet!

    • Hi Jenny,
      you are absolutely right, not acquiring more than we need in the first place is a good thing to aspire to. I am way better at this than I used to be that’s for sure.

  9. After decluttering you get much more selective bringing new stuff in, i have noticed that! You have like a blank canvas of breathing space and don’t want to spoil that.

    I find myself selling less because i find it irritating making a picture, writing a description, answering questions about the product and getting a few euros. I do like the thought of a buyer being happy with my stuff.

    I want to be organized in the stuff i want to sell of give away (those items take a while before they actually leave the house). Still working on the right strategy.