Reduce Reuse Recycle

One of my golden rules for decluttering is…

Don’t waste it just because you don’t want it.

There is no doubt that during the course of decluttering your home you are going to have to deal with what to do with all the items you are getting rid of.  We have spoken quite a lot over the last thirteen months on how to go about rehousing items but it never hurts to refresh our minds of these details.

On my page Give away-Throw away – Sell – Use up, I list what became of all the 365 items I decluttered from my home during 2010. I will use the info from that page here to explain what was involved in the disposal of these items and other methods that you could utilise to achieve the same result. The title of each topic speaks for itself but there is more to some of them than meets the eye…

Give Away (237 items)

Thrift Store – Most were taken to my local thrift shop where they were more than happy to take them off my hands. Now the thing with thrift shops is that they can’t take everything, and you really should speak to them first to make sure you aren’t just adding to their rubbish removal costs. Even when we think an item is still usable there maybe a health or safety reason why thrift stores can’t take these items for resale. Please click on this link to read about how some charities in my area are pulling their bins because of this problem and because some people just abuse the system.

Freecycle – Because of the inconvenience of having to arrange the pick up I generally only use Freecycle to offload the items that are not suitable to give to the thrift store. For example I have had three separate baseball card give-aways because baseball isn’t popular in Australia and these would just be a burden to the thrift store. I also had a lamp that required rewiring that one lovely lady was happy to take away because her son was an electrician. Once again this item would have been useless to the thrift store.  I have also given away a couple of American voltage electric appliances that people were happy to run from a step down transformer. As you can see these would not only have been useless to donate but also difficult to sell.

Friends – I have also given away about a dozen things to friends who were glad to have the use of them. In some cases the item would have had to be purchased new had I not been able to step in and help. My friends soon learned to see me before running off to the store.  We are doing each other a favour here and I thank them for taking the items off my hands.

Other Organisations – I managed to find homes for all of my 237 items just using the three avenues mentioned above but there are many other organisations out there that would be glad to accept donations. Scout groups I am sure would be happy to take camping equipment, schools would be glad of the generous donations of craft and stationary items, sporting clubs can always use extra equipment. Just use your imagination and I am sure you will find someone happy to re-purpose your unwanted stuff.

Sell (58  Items  sold on eBay at a total of $1533.65)

On-Line – Although all of the items I sold were sold on eBay there are other online selling options that you can chose from such as Craigslist.

Newspaper – You could advertise to sell in the classified section in your local newspaper. This is a good option if you have items that are too big or cumbersome to sell on eBay. Although eBay and the like do have a pick up only option that targets local shoppers I think you may find a bigger audience through using a non-online selling venue. In Australia, we have an online/local newspaper combo selling option called the Trading Post that I am going use to try to sell some musical instruments soon. I will let you know how that pans out.

Notice Boards – I don’t know if you have ever seen notice boards in your local shopping centres where people paste up photos and contact details to sell, rent or give-away items. I have seen a few in my area perhaps there is one in yours.

Garage Sale – I have had several garage sales in the past though none of my 365 things were sold this way because I was purging slowly and did not want to store the items until I had enough for a garage sale. One thing to remember with garage sales is that you have a very limited audience, and they are looking for a bargain but if you were only likely to donate the stuff anyway then you could end up with a few hundred dollars in your pocket instead.

Market Stall – This is much the same situation as a garage sale but you have a larger audience and have to haul the stuff to another location to sell. Like garage sales I have had great success in the past offloading my stuff this way.

Use Up (Only 3 items of my 365 were declutter this way)

Even though 3 is a very small quantity over the year there were many other items that were used up that I didn’t include. Items such as clothing that wore out that I didn’t replace and cleaning items that I didn’t like that I persevered with rather than cluttering up my cupboards with a duplicate in another brand. As you in know I call this Natural Progression Decluttering. I really hate waste and I would rather find a way to use something up rather than throw it away because that is a crime against the environment in my eyes.

Throw Away (67 Items)

To me this quantity (67) seems like far too many but it isn’t as bad as it looks. I scanned back through my records on my Google calendar to find out what was among these 67 items. Some of them were sent to be recycled such as paper products like old magazines, files and boxes while many of them were items that were simply used beyond there usefulness, just plain old worn out, rusty or perished in some way. There was nothing thrown in the trash just because I was too lazy to deal with it and that should never be the case for anyone. If an item still has use in it please please find it a new home.

Today’s Declutter Item

Today we have another mystery item which fetched $10 on ebay. Actually they are parts to an old wood plane.

Wood Plane Parts 1FEB2011

Things I am grateful for today

  • Getting through the housework quickly – So I could go out for a coffee with a friend.
  • That it cooled down before we went for our afternoon walk – I would also be grateful if these 35°C plus days would go away for the year.
  • Space in the freezer to put the water bottle for a quick cool down.
  • Online product reviews – My stab blender is dying and I want to be sure to get a replacement that will perform admirably.
  • Having fun with my guys – They are a pair of mischievous devils but lovable ones. (I speak of Steven my husband and Liam my son of course.)

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

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Continue reading with these posts:

  • 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 […]
  • 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 […]
  • Day 177 Recycle R E C Y C L E         R E C Y C L E R E C Y C L E The Word for Today  is so simple yet so important. If you are not using something then it is just taking up space. There are so […]
About Colleen Madsen

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


  1. If by a stab blender you mean what we call a stick or immersion blender in Canada, I have a recommendation for you. I have a bamix, and I just love it. I find it a lot more powerful than some others. It also comes with a little attachment that turns it into a mini food processor. My favorite use for mine is homemade hummus, and in the winter (-34 today) I sure appreciate some nice warm pureed soups.

    • Hi Jenny,
      I know that the Bamix brand are most likely the best on the market it is actually a Bamix that is dying but it has served me well so no hard feelings there. They are also the most expensive on the market but I will do my homework and choose what I feel is the best for me. Thank you for you help.

      • Wow, I had no idea they were so much. I got mine as a Christmas gift from my mom several years ago, and never thought to look into it. Now knowing the price, I’m not sure I’d replace it with another or not. Good luck in making your decision.

        • Hi Jenny,
          I should talk to my mum she probably has a spare one she picked up at a garage sale somewhere. 😉 No actually I’m not kidding she probably has. 😆

  2. well you know I’m a HUGE fan of this post! Great job in spreading the word about responsible disposal and congrats on making such a lovely amount of money from your unwanted items – an incentive if ever there was one 😉

    • Hi Mrs Green,
      I was hoping you would approve. You being the queen on No Waste ought to be in alignment with my rule of ‘Don’t waste it just because you don’t want it’.

  3. I agree – some things are just too ratty to give away or sell. If there’s something actually wrong with the item (it’s broken or stained) I don’t want to put that clutter burden on someone else. We can’t feel guilty if things get thrown out because sometimes there’s no other way to go.

    • Hi Marnie,
      we certainly agree on this point and lets face it if we have used it to the point that no one else would want it then the item has served us well and we should be happy with that and let it go to it’s grave.

  4. Great post, Colleen. I’m thankful that my local thrift stores happily accept my unwanted items. And there are many people in my community who benefit from shopping there. It’s a win-win situation.

    • Hi Willow,
      Maybe I should volunteer at my store and see some of my actually stuff go out the door. That would be satisfying.

      • One year, I gave a huge amount of stuff to a charity that has an annual weekend-long, granddaddy of a garage sale. It is the most organized sale you can image with a fleet of volunteers. Despite the HUGE amount of things at the sale, I was amazed to actually spot many of my items, and I talked to one lady who was buying something I donated. It was pretty fun, I must say.

        • Hi Cindy,
          I always enjoyed having garage sales and see the stuff heading out the door with someone excited to have it. I was hoping to talk to my latest Freecycle customers and ask them about why they wanted my stuff but they were the most hopeless lot at picking things up and I eventually had to leave it in the doorstep for them. It almost put me off Freecycle for life. I decided to look on the bright side and remember what I like about freecycle and I felt better.

  5. I volunteer at a local thrift store; and more than 90% of the stuff we are given is TRASH. It is so frustrating, but it also means that as a thrift store, WE need to better educate the public on what we do and do not take. I’m printing the article you linked to and will share this information with the thrift store board and manager(s) (decision makers). THANK YOU!!!

    • Hi Annebelle,
      90%, that is an horrific quantity of rubbish to dispose of. I wish people would be more thoughtful. The sad part is that some of the time they know full well that it is junk but it saves them having to deal with it. I hope that article is helpful to your store management and that they come up with a solution to help stem the problem. Good for you doing your bit and volunteering your time so generously.

  6. I love this post! I am packing for a move later this month and have stacks all over the house for recycle-donate-sell-trash….

    A coworker can’t wait for me to let him know when he and his wife can stop by and pick up all the stuff I’ve set aside for him…3 bags of quilting fabric, a sewing machine cabinet, wet vac and so on…

    I’m already feeling lighter in spirit from less belongings…

    • Hi Kelley,
      I am almost looking forward to my next move just to see how fewer boxes it take. I have removed so many trunk loads of stuff from my house over the last three years that I wouldn’t be surprised it it take half the amount of boxes it did to move here. I agree it makes you feel lighter in spirit. Are you going to have a garage sale before your big move? Good luck and be ruthless!

  7. Hi, Colleen…Speaking of people who donate junky/unusable stuff to thrift shops–they do the same thing at churches and food pantries.

    I’ve seen old, dented, rusty cans of food donated, among other things. 🙁

    • Hi Becky,
      some people just have no idea what is proper behaviour. *shaking my head in bewilderment now* The brother of a friend of mine used to work for the Salvation Army thrift stores and she said people leave old sofas and mattresses beside the charity pick up bins in the weather. Why do they think these are going to be of any use to anyone by the time they get collected. The charity then has to spend thousands of dollars a year clearing it away because ultimately they are responsible for the mess. These people must know that all they are doing is avoiding having to get rid of the junk themselves. Either that or they are just plain stupid.

  8. This is a comment I received through my contact page that with the permission of the author I wanted to share with you…

    Dear Colleen,
    This blog came into my life at the perfect time.
    On Nov. 23rd my Mother passed away. My sisters and brother have been clearing out her home. With this project came fun memories as well as problems ( what to do with many of the items). During all of this my daughter told us about your blog. So we decided to start 365 less things at our own homes. We are having so much fun, we e-mail each other everyday what we have decluttered. It is not only helping us clean house but we are having so much fun together. Our children will be so glad they are not having to get rid of old girdles, lipstick cases, old records, way to many plastic containers, and many other odd items.
    Thanks again for the great idea.