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Monday, October 7, 2019

How to Sell, Donate or Recycle Your Stuff

If you are starting the new year by saying goodbye to some of your less-than-favorite possessions you might be wondering: Now what? Here’s how to get rid of it for good. 

If you’re like a lot of the people watching the new Netflix show, “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo,” you have already looked around your home for things you want to get rid of. If you’ve already done the hard work of sorting through your belongings and culling what you do not need, great work!

If you want to give your home an organizational makeover, but aren’t sure how to start, consider signing up for our Tidy Home Challenge, which will walk you through each room of your home and give step-by-step instructions on how to neaten any space. (You will need to be an subscriber to sign up.)
If you already have bags of stuff that you do not want in your house any more, don’t succumb to the urge to take all the junk to the dump or leave it on the curb. Many items can be sold, donated or recycled, giving them another life that will be better for the environment and perhaps your pocketbook, too. Below are some options for how to dispense with the excess.

CreditOwen Franken for The New York Times
Only attempt to sell items — clothes, books, electronics, accessories, jewelry and toys — that are in good to excellent condition. Designer brands and jewels may fetch a tidy sum. But even lesser items might deliver you some pocket change.
Hold a stoop or yard sale. If you decide to go this route, brace yourself for the work ahead. Yard sales take planning and require at least a full day of your time. But they can also be fun, social and a good way to make money on items you might not otherwise sell. Here’s how to do it:
  • Pick a date.
  • Get permits from your city or town, if needed.
  • Visit other yard sales in the area to get a sense of local pricing.
  • Post signs around the neighborhood and on any local social media groups like Facebook or Nextdoor, if permitted.
  • Price all the items with stickers, and group like items together. Be reasonable in your pricing, as people come looking for bargains. Remember, the goal is to get rid of this stuff.
  • Make sure you have plenty of small bills, a calculator and a comfortable chair.
  • Sit back and enjoy the day.
  • Plan to donate anything left over at the end of your yard sale, unless you want to take it to the next level...
There are plenty of options for hosting a virtual stoop sale. Here are some options for where to try to sell your stuff online.
Tips for selling online
  • Be prepared to create a profile, manage the sale and eventually ship the items to buyers. (Facebook Marketplace, for example, allows buyers to find items close to their home, so you may be able to avoid the shipping hassle.)
  • Before you price items, do your homework. Look for similar items online to get an idea of what yours may be worth.
  • If you are selling jewelry, have it appraised first and make sure you are selling to a reputable company.
Check your local listings for nearby consignment shops, jewelers and resale shops.
  • Used bookstores buy books. Some buy CDs, vinyl and DVDs, too. Some stores can be quite selective, so give your local shop a call to see what they’re buying first.
  • Used record stores buy CDs and vinyl, assuming you can find one in your area.
  • Consignment shops will pay you a percentage of the retail price after the item is sold. Some consignment shops will sell jewelry, children’s toys and books and accessories.
  • Resale shops will pay you a set amount at the time that you bring in your items. So make sure you know the store’s policies before you arrive. Call and ask what sorts of items they want before you go.
  • Clothes should be clean and pressed and, ideally, in season.
  • If you are selling valuable items on consignment, make sure the store has insurance in the event of theft or fire.
  • Jewelers. Make sure jewelry is appraised, and only sell to a reputable jeweler, like one that is a member of a trade association like Jewelers of America.

    CreditAndriy Blokhin/Alamy
    Charities take all sorts of items, like books, household goods, kitchenwares, electronics, clothes and linens. So now is the time to sort your donate pile into different groups depending on where the items are going.
    Call the charity of your choice and see if you can arrange for a donation pickup or drop bags off at a donation center. Find out what sorts of items the charity will accept. Some charities accept items in poor condition for recycling, so even your worn and damaged clothes and linens may eligible for collection. This list is by no means exhaustive of the available charities that might take your stuff, but it will get you pointed in the right direction (Check that a charity is reputable before you give):
    • DonationTown, for example, offers an online directory of charities so you can pick the one of your choice in your area and schedule a pickup online.
    • PlanetAid has telltale yellow boxes around the country. Find one near you online.
    • Soles 4 Souls: Find drop off locations or ship your shoes to those in need.
    • Jackrabbit: Accepts your old running shoes that are sold to help farmers in Africa.
    Books and other media
    • Libraries: Call first to find out their policy for taking gently used books. Even libraries that do not generally take donations often have a collection day for annual book sales.
    • Operation Paperback: Donates books to troops overseas.
    Children’s books and toys
    • Schools and day cares. These centers often need used children’s books, particularly early readers. Day cares often take gently used books, toys and some children’s clothes, providing they are for pint-size kids. Call ahead to check what they need.
    • Second Chance Toys: Accepts donated plastic toys in some metropolitan areas.
    If you’re trading in a computer, remember to erase your hard drive first!
    • The World Computer Exchange: Drop off locations available around the country, or via mail.
    • Goodwill: In partnership with Dell Reconnect, the organization accepts electronic donations.
    Unexpired canned or packaged food

    CreditRichard Levine/Alamy
    Items that are too worn to reuse or donate can be recycled. Some items, regardless of their condition, like some cribs and stuffed animals, cannot be donated to charity. But before you put these things in the trash, see what can be recycled. Here are some options:
    You would be surprised how many people might want your discarded items, if the price is free.
    Deteriorated clothes
  • H&M: Recycles your old clothes in exchange for a discount on new ones.
  • Blue Jeans Go Green: Recycles old denim.
Used mattresses
  • Bye Bye Mattress
  • Earth 911
  • Local recycling centers: Check with your local community, or the E.P.A. website for options.
  • Best Buy: Offers trade-in programs to recycle electronics.
Hazardous substances
  • Local municipality: Latex paint and other dangerous substances must be disposed of properly. Check with your local municipality for waste recycling days.
  • PaintCare: Accepts unwanted paint for reuse, recycling or proper disposal in some states.
  • Habitat for Humanity: Accepts a variety of building materials, including old paint.
Almost anything and everything
  • Craigslist

Some items are destined for the landfill. If you are disposing of bulky items, check and see which ones can sit on the curb and which ones need to be collected or dropped off at the dump. Your town’s website should provide more clarity. Items that need special attention often include:
  • Batteries
  • Medication (expired or not)
  • Shredded paper (after you empty the office)
  • Wire hangers (although you can also bring them back to the cleaners)
  • Hazardous chemicals
  • Aerosol cans
  • Light bulbs

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