When the community yard sale rolls around, do you struggle to muster excitement for it? Yes, it is a way to get rid of stuff. But who has the heart to haul discards outside at 6 a.m. only to stand in the heat for hours and haggle with shoppers over a buck or two? And then, at the end of the day, there’s all the stuff that remains.
The good news is that there are alternatives for getting rid of things that are no longer useful — including many items that have been hard to shed in the past. Instead of taking things to the landfill — where they might charge you to get rid of them — these solutions allow you to find a good home for your old stuff. As a bonus, you might also make some money, or at least get a tax deduction for donating it.
Here are some hard-to-get-rid-of things. and my favorite places to go when saddled with them:
Large household goods and appliances
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Options for getting rid of these bulky items include:
Craigslist.com: The free online classified ad service is ideal for selling large furniture and appliances you don’t want to move yourself. I sold my refrigerator and electric stove through the site. The woman who bought the refrigerator had always wanted a side-by-side model and this was the first one she’d ever been able to afford. That made me feel good. Plus, she had strong family members who hauled the appliances out of my house.
Habitat ReStore: These retail outlets generate funds for Habitat for Humanity. A friend at who volunteers at the ReStore near her home in Tennessee introduced me to this option. I was astonished at the array of things that they sold, including appliances, chandeliers, desk lamps, building materials (like doors and stone), towel racks and more.
Freecycle: When stuff doesn’t sell or isn’t handy to donate, Freecycle is your friend. Post your item on the site — I always add the disclaimer that I won’t deliver it — and you’ll often find someone will gratefully adopt your item. No tax deduction here, but definitely a way to feel better about shedding belongings.
Mattresses, electronics and toxic waste
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Of course, there are items — like mattresses and older appliances — that just won’t sell and are tough to donate. That’s where Earth911 is a lifesaver. Type in your ZIP code and the materials you want to recycle — electronics, motor oil, leaded paint, batteries, a mattress — and you’ll find a recycling location. You can also consult the Steel Recycling Institute regarding appliances and similar items.
Professional clothes, eyeglasses and shoes
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I like to give my more professional clothes such as dresses and suits to DressforSuccess, an organization that helps low-income women get a leg up in their career by providing clothes and other types of support. Career Gear is another option for men’s and women’s clothing.
Want to offer your shoes to folks who really need them? Soles4Souls will make sure they make a difference.
If you have old eyeglasses lying around, the service organization Lions Clubs International runs a program that collects used eyeglasses to distribute to people in need. The Lions Recycle for Sight program website explains various ways of donating your spectacles.
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Pet supplies are often difficult to donate. Look at the Animal Humane Society website to find out all about pet supply donations and recycling.
Books, CDs and DVDs
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I like to see my used books, CDs and DVDs go to good homes, so I often donate them to the local library. You can also donate books to worthy nonprofit organizations that distribute books to different populations. They include:
Wonder how to get the most cash for your books? BookScouter will let you compare what your book will bring at various sites. Or, check Amazon’s Trade-In to see how much they will credit you for items you’ve bought from them, including books.
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Cellphones should not go into regular trash, because they contain toxins that harm the environment and put landfill workers at risk. But you can sell your old cellphone.
Several resale dealers like Gazelle buy old handsets, providing an easy way to unload your phone for cash.
Some retailers programs pay with gift cards, including:
Another option: Donate your phone instead. You’ve probably seen collection boxes for organizations that donate phones to crime victims. Those are great options, but I chose Cell Phones For Soldiers.
What’s your strategy for shedding stuff you don’t want anymore? Share with us in comments below or on our Facebook page.
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