Are you ready to let go of things in your life and make more space? Want to open up room in your closets, garage, bedroom, basement, counters or shelving without it costing an arm and a leg? You can donate, recycle, sell or otherwise get rid of things you don’t want anymore. Others can use items that are just taking up space in your house, garage, shed or on your property.
We’ll teach you how you can do this, without it being an expensive project. All you’ll need is your time and commitment to de-clutter and let go.
There are several nonprofit bike recycle organizations that take used bikes. Some use them to teach kids how to make bike repairs and other skills. Other groups specialize in refurbishing bicycles and shipping them to 3rd world countries. You can visit ibike.org to find lists of local places like this. You can also donate your bikes to local thrifts stores in your area that take them.
Most retailers will take your old large appliance away for you when you purchase a new large appliance from them. You can also look for businesses that participate in EPA’s Responsible Appliance Disposal Program that makes sure chemicals are recovered from the glass, plastic and metal recycled. Home Depot, Appliance Smart, Sears, GE Appliances and several Utility companies have partnered with this program. You can also look into donating large or small appliances in good condition to your local Salvation Army, Goodwill, Habitat for Humanity ReStore, Vietnam Veterans of America or other charity.
Due to the increase of e-readers, many people aren’t as attached to old books and look for what they can do with them. You can sell your used books using one of these ways:
- Half.com, an eBay company
- BookScouter.com (compares prices at several sites to discover which one will pay the most for your books)
If you’d like to donate your books, contact these places:
- Your Local Library
- Local Schools
- Daycare Centers
- Homeless Shelters
- Local Churches
- Senior Centers
- Nonprofit Agencies
- Vietnam Veterans of America
- Salvation Army
- Deseret Industries
- BooksForSoldiers.com (lets you send to troops once you’ve registered as a volunteer)
It’s easy to donate clothes in good condition to thrift stores and other donation services. Some organizations will schedule a time with you to pick up your clothes donations. Check with places like Goodwill, Salvation Army or your local thrift shops.
You can sell your unwanted furniture on eBay or Craigslist. They key is to include a photo or two of your furniture items. Make sure there is good lighting in the pictures you take. Many nonprofit organizations will take furniture donations that are in good shape. Some have programs where they will pick up your furniture like Salvation Army and certain Goodwill programs. Poor condition furniture can be put to your curbside with a sign “Free” to see if someone wants it. Or maybe your trash collector will haul it off. You can call 1-800-Got-Junk to pay for someone to take away your unwanted furniture.
Landfill nightmares are made up of old mattresses! If you are purchasing a new mattress, see if the retailer will take your old one to recycle. If you have an old mattress in good condition, consider donating it to a battered women or homeless shelter. Salvation Army will also take mattresses in good condition. You can try searching earth911.com to find a place to recycle your mattress, although many places charge a fee.
Sell your old electronics on eBay. Sometimes someone is searching for components or an older model. You can also look for local programs for recycling electronics at earth911.com.
Retail companies and manufacturers also recycle equipment. Best Buy will take old TVs, computers, TVs, and other items. Be sure to take out the hard drive from your computer or the retailer will likely charge a fee to do it. Items accepted will usually vary by store. Office Depot charges a fee to take old electronics. Staples offers free recycling of office electronics to their U.S. based customers.
There are several retailers and manufacturers that will collect cell phones. Some are:
- Best Buy
- Home Depot
- Ace Hardware
- Office Depot
- Some Charities
Visit earth911.com or call2recycle.org and insert your ZIP code for areas near you. Be sure to restore your cell phone to factory condition before you donate it. You do not want any identifying information, texts, contacts or phone calls stored on it when you donate it.
You can try to sell your old CD’s, DVD’s or Books on Craigslist, eBay or similar sites. If you have friends interested, you can also try to trade or give them away. You might be able to get 50 cents or a dollar a piece for them at swap.com. For a last resort, recycle your CD’s at Best Buy, but check with your local store first to ensure they will accept them.
You can toss most medications in the following way:
- Remove pills from their container
- Mix them with sawdust, coffee grounds or kitty litter making them less recognizable
- Put this mixture in a sealable plastic container or bag that will not leak
- Put the container or bag in the trash
If the medication is dangerous or you prefer not to throw expired medications out this way, you might want to consider taking them back to your local pharmacy. Thankfully, the new DEA regulations allows larger stores, hospitals, pharmacies, long-term care centers and clinics to take back medications at any time with no appointment. If taking the medication back is not an option, then you might just flush them down the toilet. This is not preferred though because of the risk of water supply contamination, but it may be a last resort.
Infant and Child Items
Child Car Seats: Before you sell or donate any baby gear, go to recalls.gov to learn if any of your items have had a recall in previous years. Today’s standards are stricter than they were just a few years ago. If you have child gear in good shape, consider selling is online through eBay or another local source. Or consider donating it at your local thrift shop, Salvation Army, Goodwill or Deseret Industries.
Children’s Toys: There are many several nonprofit organizations that take gently used toys, including Second Chance Toys, Goodwill and Deseret Industries. You might want to check with your local churches and shelters to learn their guidelines for donations.
Cars and Trucks: You can donate your used vehicle to charity and even possibly get a deduction on your taxes. However, for your car donation to be eligible for a tax benefit, you must donate it to a nonprofit tax-exempt group that is 501(c)(3) approved. Donate-a-Car has partnered with hundreds of approved and trusted charities that will accept car donations. Visit our Find a Charity page to select a charity you would like to support and you can fill out the form online or give us a call at 1-800-237-5714. We accept cars, trucks, boats, RVs, Vans, ATVs, farm equipment and more for donations.
Motor Oil: You should never dispose of used motor oil by pouring it in the trash, in storm drains, or on the ground. Instead, pour used motor oil into a container with a lit that can be sealed and label what’s inside. You want to be sure NOT to use any containers that used to have chemicals or bleach inside. Some automotive service stations and Walmart lube centers will accept used oil. You can also look for local recyclers at earth911.com.
Gasoline: Unwanted gas should be labeled and stored in a childproof plastic or metal container approved by an independent testing lab. Then contact your local center for hazardous waste collection. You can lessen the need for disposing of old gas by using a gasoline stabilizer, which will keep it usable for a year or longer.
Household Hazardous Waste
Your local utility company may sponsor collection days a few times each year; call yours. Visit earth911.com to search for places in your area.
LED and CFL Light Bulbs: It’s not a good idea to toss compact fluorescent lightbulbs in the garbage as they contain small levels of mercury inside the bulbs. Some places require recycling, so you may want to check with your local sanitation department and ask about programs for collecting and disposing of light bulbs. Lowe’s, Ikea, Home Depot and some Ace Hardware outlets will let you drop off used CFLs for. The electronic circuitry and semiconductor chips inside LED bulbs can include arsenic, gallium and lead, but these substances are not accessible, even if the bulb is broken. LEDs bulbs, however, must be recycled with other electronic waste. Visit earth911.com to search for local programs for LEDs and CFLs bulbs.
Household Batteries: It’s vital to recycle rechargeable batteries, whether from a power drill, cell phone, or some other device, because their heavy metals are hazardous. Visit Call2Recycle.org to find a local site to take your batteries. Some places will even take your single-use alkaline or button cell batteries. Look for local drop off places at earth911.com.
Household Paint: If you have paint that was manufactured before 1978, it may contain lead. Paints manufactured before 1991 may contain mercury. For paints free of mercury or lead, you can ask your local religious organizations, high schools or charities if they can use paint donations. Ask to see if your community collects paint to reuse. If you run in to a dead end, call your local household hazardous waste center or utilities company or find a recyclable place atearth911.com. Be sure to learn the local requirements for paint disposal before taking paint to be disposed or recycled.
You can donate leftover building supplies to most any Habitat for Humanity ReStores in the U.S. and Canada. For more options, visit earth911.com and enter in the item you wish to donate.
Salvation Army, Goodwill and Deseret Industry thrift shops and similar outlets usually accept used tools. You can also visit earth911.com for details in your location, which is a national clearinghouse for all kinds or recycling.