with the way the world has been over the last year or so, you may have had a bit more time than normal to take stock of what you've got at home—and many of us are likely to be feeling a strong urge to do some serious decluttering as businesses and communities open up again.
Whatever items you're looking to shift, you've got multiple ways to remove these possessions from your life without simply tossing them into the garbage. Here's how to tackle that big declutter responsibly and safely—and if you'd like to make some money from your unwanted stuff, you've got lots of options there too.
Sell Your Stuff
Just about anything can be sold through the various secondhand goods sites and apps that have sprung up in recent years. Don't assume that you're not going to get money for something just because it's broken or in bad condition—you'll get less money than you would if something was new, of course, but people are always on the look out for a bargain, and you might have one.
This is especially true of gadgets: There are plenty of people out there who will willingly pay to take a faulty electronics device off your hands and then attempt to fix it or use the parts for something else entirely. Just because your monitor, smartphone, or laptop is broken doesn't mean you have to throw it away. It's likely you'll find a willing buyer if the price is right.
That brings us to one of the main rules of selling items online: Be honest in the way you list and describe it. Make sure any damages or faults have been clearly described and photographed, and take as many pictures as you can in general—it helps potential buyers see what they're getting and reduces the potential for problems further down the line.
In terms of staying safe and avoiding scams, the approach is the same no matter what app or site you use: Stick to the guidelines of the platform you're on (keeping all communication on the platform itself, for example), always meet prospective buyers in public or with someone else to accompany you, and don't hand over anything until payment has been received and confirmed.
If you've never used eBay before, know this: It remains one of the best places to sell unwanted items, especially damaged or broken ones—you can set a low price and then let market forces set the going rate as people bid against each other for it. Craigslist is another well-established buying and selling platform: It's a bit more basic than eBay, but unlike eBay it doesn't charge fees, and it's usually more straightforward for popular items or when you'd rather meet face to face with buyers instead of shipping goods.
Of the newer marketplaces out there, Swappa is one of the most polished and professional when it comes to shifting anything electronic—in the case of phones, you just need to click a few buttons to indicate what model you're wanting to sell. OfferUp makes the process of selling anything from your phone very straightforward—just take a photo and fill out a template—while Poshmark is a good bet for items of clothing.
If you're happy to shift something locally, then Facebook Marketplace and Nextdoor are two of the most popular options. You won't reach as many people as you would on eBay, but you'll probably have an easier and quicker selling experience most of the time—these kinds of platforms are ideal if you're more concerned about convenience than profit, and they're both straightforward to get started with.
Give Away Your Stuff
If you're feeling charitable, really pushed for time, or both, then consider giving away your stuff. You won't have as much cash at the end, but it's certainly quick—people will take almost (but not quite) anything if it's free, and there are likely to be resources you can use in your local area for making donations.
You can list your unwanted possessions for free on Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, and Nextdoor, which we've already mentioned. All three of these platforms are split up into local regions, and it shouldn't take you too long to find someone in the neighborhood who's willing to take items off you.
As there's no money exchanging hands, you don't have to be quite so careful in terms of the accuracy of your listing and the quality of the photos—the person who takes your item isn't going to be demanding a refund, after all—but it's still courteous to accurately describe what you've got and the condition that it's in.
The Freecycle Network is also worth a look if you have something to give away for free. Again, the platform is split up into local regions, and you can either browse the listings for items that people are looking for to see if you've got a match, or post a listing describing what you're trying to give away and see if you get any takers.
Local charities are another option open to you, but be sure to check up on what they are and aren't accepting before you drive a van load of goods down to a shop. The website for your preferred charity should be able to tell you where your local shop or drop-off point is, and any guidelines that you need to know about when it comes to donating items.
Donation Town is a very helpful service that uses your zip code to produce a list of nearby charitable organizations that will actually come and pick up whatever it is that you're giving away. The sort of results that you're going to get will depend on whereabouts you live, but generally speaking you can clear all kinds of stuff out this way: Clothes, furniture, electronics and more.
It may sound obvious, but it can be easy to forget your own social media networks: Your family and friends may well be interested in whatever it is you're giving away, so it might be worth showcasing some of your free stuff on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to see if anyone you know wants it before you start dealing with complete strangers.
Recycle Your Stuff
The recycling options open to you vary widely depending on what exactly you're trying to get rid of. Giving items away for free is perhaps the best form of recycling, but if you're not getting any takers for your gear and you really don't have the time or the inclination to list them on freebie websites, there are other options—don't just throw your bits and pieces away.
Electronics are perhaps the most straightforward type of item to deal with when it comes to recycling: Many of the biggest players in the industry (including Apple and Samsung) will gladly take your old gadgets back and dispose of them responsibly (or sell them as refurbished). You might even get some cash back towards a new purchase.
Major high street outlets will gladly take and recycle your phones, laptops, peripherals, and other electronics too: Best Buy and Staples are two of your options here. If whatever you're recycling is modern enough and in good enough condition, you might be given store credit to spend on something new.
The phone carriers all have recycling programs you can take advantage of, and like the stores, you might get some trade-in credit as well. Check out the dedicated portals for Verizon, AT&T, or T-Mobile to check up on the details of the scheme that you're interested in and to discover how much you might get back. There are a few more options to check out on the Environmental Protection Agency website.
Outside of electronics, you need to find out whether or not what you're getting rid of is actually recyclable to begin with—it may be that giving it away is a better option for certain types of goods. In the case of furniture, for example, you might be able to hand mostly metal items to your local scrapyard, while secondhand stores could well be interested in wooden furniture you don't want to send to landfill.
When it comes to clothes, recycling is an option for those garments that are just too well used to sell on again. As with phones, in some cases the store that sold you the item will take it back again for recycling: H&M is one company that does this, so you simply have to drop your bag of clothes off at a local store. There's also a service called TerraCycle that will take your unwanted fabrics and clothing for recycling through the mail.
You can find plenty of recycling information from your local town or city website: What you can recycle and where you can recycle it. That information should include locations of any recycling centers in your area, and they'll be able to give you more precise advice about what you can do with everything that you're getting rid of.