Making a Clean Sweep

You’ve finally sorted through your clutter, identified those things you don’t use, that are of no use, or that bring you no joy and are finally ready to get rid of them. So, what do you do with it? You have three basic choices: sell it, donate it, or toss it.

Making a Clean Sweep

Sell It

As the saying goes, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Just check what flies off the “shelves” at garage sales every weekend. Depending on the item, you might get more money selling it at a consignment or antique shop. Call around to get a sense of what they’re taking.

Open up your merchandise to countless potential buyers by selling it online. For instance, craigslist is a network of online communities (450 cities worldwide), that offers free local classified ads. Another great online market is eBay. On any day, it features millions of listings in thousands of categories, with almost 250 million registered users in 38 markets. The cost to sell is nominal, it’s free to browse and it’s relatively easy to post an item (eBay even provides a template). “Our survey found that the average Canadian household has $1,200 worth of goods that they could sell,” says Erin Sufrin, an eBay Canada spokesperson. “These aren’t things you use, but [items] that are just sitting in the attic, the garage or your drawers, waiting to be turned into cash.”

Donate It

Several charitable organizations, like the Salvation Army and Goodwill, earn money from selling donated goods. Think of other thrift shops in your community that might donate a percentage of their sales to charities, such as Value Village. But remember, the item has to be saleable; don’t use the collection bins of these shops as a dump.

Any community has grassroots organizations that supply donated items to people in need, such as women’s shelters. Contact local social service groups to see if they’re interested in your wares.

When “recycling” items, consider the people you know who might enjoy what you’re discarding, whether hand-me-down clothes or that dish your sister-in-law was always eyeing. Through the nonprofit Freecycle Network, anyone can post items that they want to give away or seek items that they might be able to use. The items, and signing up, is free. Freecycle comprises over 4,000 groups around the world. Once you’re on the home page of the website, click on “browse groups” for a list of countries, then click on “Canada,” your province, and then your community. You’ll find instructions on how to join.

Toss It

While much of your clutter would have a value to someone else, some of it, alas, is just plain junk. Items that are broken, damaged, or have no hope of being sold are best trashed.

For things you’re unable to discard yourself, one option is to call 1-800-GOT-JUNK. They’ll remove almost anything – from old furniture to renovation debris – and charge by volume. The material ends up being recycled or sent to landfill, but if something is in fact in good enough condition, it will be taken to the Salvation Army, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada, or Habitat for Humanity.