Disposing of this weeks mission yields

In a post a couple of weeks ago that asked a range of question about your clutter issues and my blog. One of the readers asked for more information on how to get rid of the clutter that has been set aside for removal. I do have a list of ideas on a page here at 365 called Recycling/Donating Guide that you can find here. However it is an unfinished page and may not yield the information you are looking for and also may not be relevant to your location. It is worth taking a look at none the less during those times when you have hit a brick wall.

As I just mentioned, access to ways to sell, donate and recycle your decluttered items is individual to your location. Sometimes you just have to get imaginative. However the more knowledge of general options you have, the easier it is to expand on that knowledge in tricky situations.

The original purpose of this post is to suggest ways to send on the items mentioned in this weeks missions. However together, in the comments, we can expand on that and bring new options to light that many readers may not have thought of before. Not only for the items of the missions but for other items. Just throw in your query or suggestions and see what comes of it.

Monday – Declutter something made from paper.

  • Books ~ Donate to a library, mini local or pop up libraries or thrift shop, nursing home, hospital. Sell on-line or at a garage sale, market stall or secondhand bookshop. Give to friends.
  • Magazines ~ Donate to all places mentioned for Books, also schools or doctor and dental surgeries for use in their waiting rooms. Put them in the recycling. Sell on-line or at a garage sale, market stall or secondhand bookshop. Give to friends.
  • Old paperwork ~ Shred and recycle. Or if you are the crafty type you could make recycled paper from them yourself.
  • Letters, diaries ~ Shred and recycle. If there are any pages you wish to reread but don’t want to keep digitise them prior to destroying them.
  • Greeting cards ~ Donate to schools or craft groups for upcycling. Digitise if desired and recycle.

Tuesday – Declutter something made from wood.

  • Small wooden items (trinkets, boxes, toys) Donate to a thrift shop.
  • Lopped trees etc ~ Use up as firewood. Advertise as fire wood to sell or give away. Take to a local waste and recycling site where it might be chipped for garden mulch.
  • Building supplies ~ Advertise to sell or give away, the internet sites like Freecycle, ebay or local buy-swap-sell sites on Facebook are good for this. Donate to a local mens shed or woodworking group/club.
  • Furniture ~ Sell via the internet sites like Freecycle, ebay or local buy-swap-sell sites on Facebook etc. Sell to a secondhand dealer. Or donate to charity. Most charities will pick up so you don’t have to worry about transporting the items. If you live in an apartment building you could place an ad on the building bulletin board. I have given away small furniture items by placing them on the footpath in front of my house until someone takes them away. I never leave them out in the rain and I bring them in at night. They usually disappear before this is necessary though. You might want to check it this is legal in your area.

Wednesday – Declutter something made from fabric.

  • Clothing ~ Sell through the internet (see above ideas) or local consignment clothing stores. Donate to thrift shops or local charities who send to those less fortunate overseas. Local churches often run or have insight to these charities. Hand clothing on to friends or family. If too far gone use them as rags. Anything beyond that probably just needs to go in the trash.
  • Sheets, towels & blankets ~ Donate as above. Also sheets can be used as weed matting in the garden. Towels, blankets and pillows can sometimes be donated to pet shelters, veterinary surgeries, pet day care centres and the like.
  • Fabric cuts and scraps for crafting. Use them up by making them into something useful. They can also be donated to thrift shops. Schools will appreciate them for arts and craft projects. Local quilting groups would, no doubt, also be happy to take them off your hands.

Thursday – Declutter something plastic.

  • Kitchen ware ~ Sell, donate or give away using various methods already mentioned above. If broken many plastic items can be recycled.
  • Children’s toys ~ Donate to thrift shop or other charity, day care centre, any place with a waiting room where children attend. Hand down to family or friends. Or sell using methods already mentioned.
  • Pens ~ Donate to a school or perhaps even to your work place if you have way too many.
  • Storage containers ~ Hopefully you might have empties a few of these by now and have vowed never to need them again. Ofter them to family or friends or donate them to a charity or thrift shop.

Friday – Declutter something made from an animal product eg. leather, bone, wool…

  • Woollen clothing ~ (Sweater, socks, trousers, underwear, scarf…)
  • Leather Accessories ~ (Handbags, wallet, purse, jewellery…)
  • Leather Wearables ~ (Shoes, jacket, gloves, belt…)

Most, if not all, of these items can be donated to thrift shops or other charities. Or sold if in good condition to individuals or via a clothing consignment store.

Saturday – Declutter something metal. That could also be precious metal.

  • Kitchen Items (Pots, Pans, cutlery…) ~ All can be sold or donated like any of the other items above.
  • Scrap metal in the yard ~ Sold to metal merchant or taken to recycling facility.
  • Jewellery ~ Donated or sold same as kitchen items. Passed down to another member of the family or friends. Sold to precious metal merchants as scrap (I’m not a lover of this method as you are usually paid a pittance.).

You can also accumulate your items and hold a garage sale or participate in a car boot sale. This is a quick and effective way of getting rid of a lot of stuff on one occasion. However it does mean having the stuff hang around until you have enough to make the event worth the effort and the season has to be right for some climates. Once the sale is over the leftovers can be disposed of by one of the other options mentioned. I actually do enjoy this method, although the last time I did this was in 2007. With eBay, Freecycle and other online and offline methods I managed to sell most of the items I wanted to without the problem of having somewhere to store them.

Usually a quick google search with yield information about local charities in your area, also where you might find a consignment store, scrap metal merchants or any of the outlets mentioned above. That includes searching for local events such as flea markets/car boot sales and identifying online buy swap & sell sites.

Word of mouth is also a very good way to get rid of items you either want to give away or sell. I have parted with many an item this way. Simply ask anyone you know who you think might be interested in an item. It they aren’t interested they might know someone who could be. Telling people in your workplace, family or friends are some of the most likely options for offloading stuff this way.

If you work within a large workforce instigate a “free box” in the staff room where small items can be put for giving away. Staff bulletin boards are also good for giving away or selling items.

Hopefully this has given you some good ideas on how to offload your unwanted stuff. Please make sure items are clean and in good condition when donating, selling or giving them away.

So now lets see what other wonderful idea my wonderful readers can add to this discussion.

Today’s Mini Mission

Declutter something plastic.

“If we do not feel grateful for what we already have, what makes us think we’d be happy with more?” — Unknown

Eco Tip for the Day

Consider online magazine subscription rather than wasting paper.

For a full list of my eco tips so far click here

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. Idgy of the North

    Hi Colleen,

    What a great list! For building supplies, you may be able to donate to Habitat for Humanity Restore. Women’s shelters often have a “need” list on their websites. Examples include: women/ children clothing, toys, household items , gift card to clothing/housewares/toy stores.

    You can never underestimate the power of listing something for free. We recently tore down a poorly built addition. We posted that if you help us with the demo, can have the many windows and doors. We had a gentlemen come out and spend an afternoon with us tearing the structure down … win- win.

    • Hi Idgy… , well done advertising to declutter for help. What a stroke of brilliance.
      And thank you for mentioning Habitat for Humanity. I am going to look that up in my area and see if I can be of service. It would be a symbiotic relationship as I would learn some useful skills at the same time.

  2. Terrific post…item & disposal ideas tied together
    My church is collecting linens. Blankets for homeless men who live in the woods. Sheets for poor families. Any size towel for animal rescues. We have a big box marked “linens” at Sunday School bldg entrance.

  3. Great ideas!!! I just wanted to add one more – our church congregation has a private Facebook Page when we can list items that we have to give away (this is only for free items – we do not sell anything on here). Usually stuff posted is claimed within hours, or even minutes. It’s great for everything from stuff from our houses we are giving away, to extra produce from the garden or anything else at all! And it’s mostly “you come pick it up” – since these are all people we personally know from our congregation there is no issue with having strangers come to your house, or having to find a large vehicle if you have something big to giveaway. I’ve found new homes for tons of stuff on our page.

    • Hi Raesha, that is another good example of Buy, swap and Sell without the buy and sell. I like it. And I bet the church get in on the act and accept some of the stuff for charities they support.

  4. Women’s shelters are usually only too glad to get gently used childrens and adult books. Primary and elementary school teachers are often delighted to receive age appropriate ones for the classroom, or to have some extra to send home with children who are not in a position to have their own collection. It is not unusual for them to purchase these themselves as school budgets are cut further and further, so donations help. Especially books in a second language where it is taught. I always asked first and I think I remember getting one ‘no thanks’ to about 15 enthusiastic yeses.

  5. Good list.
    Often it takes months to rid of some of the larger items…..like my 36×36 inch coffee table. Finding the right place to give something to so the item is not an added burden is often challenging. Challenging but worth the effort.
    Thanks for the follow-up and talking about the whole cycle of items in our lives.

  6. What a great list of examples for the mini-missions this week. It has helped me to think of some things we can get rid of right now.

  7. If you decide you want to go the garage sale route I highly recommend pricing items as you put them in boxes (and then label the boxes GARAGE SALE). You’ll have enough to do setting up the sale without having to price. While some people will make offers, others will walk away from unpriced items. If you have a lot of one type you can price them with a sign “All books 50 cents” to avoid having to price individually.

    For clothing a group of friends get together roughly every 6 months with all the clothes we don’t want. Each person goes through their boxes and tries to talk everyone else into their clothing. At the end the unclaimed (which is the majority, honestly) gets boxed up and the hostess takes them over to a local charity. It’s proven to be lots of fun and a good way to stay in contact now that we all have kids and jobs, and it keeps our closets in better shape. Gives us the chance to try out different styles without having to pay for them as well.

    • Kayote – good idea to price as you go, I have a friend who was up to all hours the night before her last garage sale trying to get things priced in time.

    • That price as you go advice for garages sales is priceless Kayote, thank you for sharing. And I am one of those people who hate a garage sale where things aren’t priced.

      I love the friend clothe swapping. I guess it only works if you are all of similar size. I hope there isn’t too much trying to talk people into taking stuff as that will just burden them into receiving things they don’t really want and will likely never where. That just becomes sharing clutter. I do like that the unclaimed items get sent to charity.

      • A clothes swap for different-size people will work for the people who refashion the clothes (you can even up-size something that’s too small) or to use them to incorporate into another item of clothing or craft. More and more people these days (young as well as older) are getting interested in refashioning clothing as a hobby, as a way to avoid cheaply made goods and the ethical issues of sweatshops, and as a way to be frugal. There are even no-sew refashions for those who don’t have sewing skills or equipment.

      • Actually, it works really well that we are all different sizes. Then the thing that is now too big or too small for me fits someone else.

        You could also see it as increasing the amount that goes to charity. 🙂

  8. Hi Colleen,

    Thanks for this very helpful post. It is very timely for me as I currently have my guest room piled high with the items that my sons have decluttered so far this summer which have to be processed, packed up and delivered to the appropriate recipients. It’s going to take a while and I must say I feel quite overwhelmed when I look at it all, but I keep telling myself that we have made immense progress and the fact that my sons have participated so willingly is also a big step forward.

    My usual method is to drop off all my donations at a couple of local Goodwill stores, although I sometimes wonder what eventually becomes of it all when I see their donation truck piled high with bags and boxes, all in a complete muddle – although maybe they have a system for dealing with the chaos which just escapes me.

    Another thing I just did was call the librarian at my sons’ former high school to ask if she could use old study guides and she seemed very pleased at the idea of having a box of those available for the students to borrow, so we are going to drop those off to her this week. I have already told my sons that when they are back here for the Christmas vacation we’ll be continuing with the clear-out and next on the list are their books, so I’ll probably try the high and middle schools to see if they are interested. I also like your idea of having a box at the workplace so I’ll be asking my husband if his office has any such arrangements and if not he could suggest leaving free books and other items in their break rooms.

    We also have a neighborhood website which hosts all sorts of discussions and local advice and where you can list items for sale or to give away. We posted about a bed we wanted to give away and by the following evening someone had come to pick it up. I shall definitely be using this resource again.

    • Hi Christine, I can assure you the charities have a system for dealing with the chaos of all those donation. I work for one so I know. Clothing items are graded, then either sold locally, sent overseas, used for rag and destroyed. People often use charities as their dumping group ground so there is always and element of stuff that is just trash when donated and the poor charities spend a lot of money each year sending such items to the refuse tip. That is why I mentioned in the post about making sure the stuff is clean and in good order.

      It sounds like you are coming up with some good ideas of your own when it comes to finding good home for you unwanted stuff. Well done you! And I like the idea of that neighbourhood web site. I would like to get something started like that in my apartment building. We have a bulletin board but online is a better platform I think.

      • Yes, Colleen, the neighborhood web site is proving very helpful. I hope you can get something organized. Ours is set up through something called Next Door which bills itself as a private social network for your neighborhood. I see people using it to donate or sell furniture, electronics, anything really – or often people will have ideas as to who might be able to use a particular thing like old TVs or cameras.

    • Christine – I worked with a friend who filled a garage with stuff to declutter and then felt overwhelmed. What I suggested was for her to make a rough list of what was in one area and then to take herself out to her kitchen for a cup of tea (or just a change of scenery) and jot down who/what/where she wanted the stuff to go. Then return and do an inventory of another area.

      It turned out that around the whole garage there were a number of things that were destined for the same charity. This made it easy for her to do drop offs ie no return trips because something was left behind, and easier to organise pick ups as she knew exactly what was on offer.

      Along the way she discovered that a number of charities were interested in extra items which she wouldn’t have thought of ie the annual second hand book sale had branched out into CDs, DVDs and games and puzzles.

      Once the donatable stuff was out of the way, we focused on the stuff she wanted to sell. I got her to figure out what was a reasonable amount for each item and we listed the more expensive items first. After doing half a dozen or so, she came to the realisation that it was a fair amount of work and she decided that listing items under $5 wasn’t the best use of her time (they were preparing their house for sale) and she held a garage sale. What didn’t sell was then donated and by then she was able to get them to the right charities quite quickly.

      • Moni – thanks for your suggestions! Sounds like you came up with a great plan to help your friend. I agree that you sometimes have to walk away from it to be able to think straight, so I’m glad I can close the door for a while and know that I can deal with it all gradually. I have started by piling together the similar items – a lot of it is clothing which is taking up a lot of space but shouldn’t be too hard to deal with. Another bulky category is the now-empty storage containers, shelving units, cubbies etc which we won’t be needing with all this stuff out of here.

        • Getting rid of storage containers and furniture is one of my favourite decluttering objectives!! a spacious home feels just so. much. better.

        • Christine – often a ‘game plan’ makes us feel like we’re in control of the situation. Just a suggestion – if you were going to donate the clothes, enquire if the charity is also interested in the storage bins. My local one was very happy to get some of mine, so you could deliver the clothes in the bins and kill two birds with one stone!

          • I don’t have to tell you guys how many empty storage containers I (USED TO!) have. I gave them all to the Salvation Army, and the ladies there loved them. Even if the store can’t use them (which I bet they can), I know the volunteers will take them home and use them.

  9. MY favourite disposal is the street box with the for free Sign on it…. This is by far the easiest Method, but it is not very responsible, as You dont know the fate of the things.

    I Would like to mention also refugee homes/camps/institutions. Call your local refugee/asylum seekers home and ask what they Need. In my town there is a new “gratis” flea market for those poor souls that came here with just their clothes on. They Are usuelly not allowed to work and earn money so every little thing helps.

  10. Hi Lena, I don’t think the the street box is irresponsible. I don’t think people take the stuff who don’t want it. So long as you aren’t leaving it out in bad weather or allowing it to sit there for long periods of time. Although one reader did say it was bringing down the look of their neighbourhood, which is a possibility if done to excess. That being said, giving it to charity is going to benefit the needy more than just making stuff available to anyone to take who probably doesn’t need it.

    I do like the refugee home… idea. We get some refugees here in my town but I believe they are usually sponsored by a church organisation so tend to be reasonably cared for in this way. Also our situation is Australia is different because people can’t just arrive here unnoticed, being as we are an Island nation.

    • Colleen, I think Australia has a different immigration policy as well 😉

      Europe is dealing with huge amounts of refugees at the moment and most of the countries are not well prepared. We are hearing about the “problematic refugee situation” daily, and the temperature is rising. not in a good way though.
      Every help is needed.

  11. Framed artworks may be welcomed by hospitals, nursing homes or similar institutions. Call to check their donation policy.
    Many literacy programs or libraries give childrens books away to low income families to encourage reading. Some hospitals have libraries or roving book carts.
    One church near here has a “pay what you think it’s worth” garage sale. No haggling or asking prices – you just take what you want and put money in the donation jar. Everybody wins.

  12. A very thorough list, Colleen – well done on that.

    Sometimes a person may want to support a specific charity but don’t have the kind of items for donation that the charity wants. But you can always inquire whether they hold their own yard sales to raise money – and if so, your donations suddenly become useful to them. Many times they will even send someone to pick them up. In our area, I’m thinking of the SPCA, a men’s service group, and school drama/music/dance groups – they all accept items for this purpose.