Declutter responsibly


(updated 4/20/17)

Several times a year I get in a decluttering mode. I try to rid my home of things we don’t need, use, or want anymore. It is always nice to earn a little money from getting rid of things, but otherwise my goal is that the items go somewhere they can be used or at least recycled! It always feels good to help others, too, if possible! What to do with those items can be very tricky, though. You almost need a flow chart to make a decision! So here is my primer on your options: Donate, Sell, Swap, or Recycle.


∞ Other families: We have been so blessed to receive clothes, toys, outdoor toys, and cloth diapers from families in our community and our local triplet group. I don’t know what we would have done without their generosity. When we can, we try to do the same and pass on items we don’t need anymore.

∞ Freecycle: Post your item on this site and someone who wants it will come pick it up.

∞ Craigslist – This sale site also has listings for free items as well.

Facebook groups – I am part of a Buy Nothing Facebook group, where members can give away items they do not want anymore. This is a great way to get stuff you need or give away something you want to have a good home.

∞ Local library or school: Items that are appreciated by both include books, DVDs, and magazines. Libraries will also take CDs and tapes. Schools appreciate outdoor toys, children’s CDs and books on CD, school supplies, toys and games, art supplies, ink, and even sometimes furniture.

∞ Good Will, Salvation Army, or other local resale shops: These are great places to take any items that can be used again by someone else. The profits from these stores often go to other community service initiatives.

∞ Other local charities: You may have particular items that could best be used by specific charities. Examples of some that our school collected last year include: toys and games for a local holiday program, toiletries for a women’s shelter, school supplies for a low-income family program, food for the local food pantry, and pet food and supplies for families in need. Finding the right charity or finding out if a charity is legitimate can be daunting, though. Here are some sites that might help you in the right direction:

  • Charity Navigator – This site rates and evaluates charities in the United States.
  • Charity Vault – This site allows you to search for charities by country, state, and city. You can also look for volunteer opportunities. This is not an all-inclusive site, however.


∞ Online: There are many websites available these days for selling your used and new items. Popular sites include: Ebay, CraiglistGazelle (for electronics), ThredUp (for clothing), and Facebook sale groups. I have had luck selling (and buying) items on a local Facebook Teachers’ sale group.

∞ Yard sale: Hold a garage sale and sell your unwanted items. I personally feel that yard sales can be tricky, because buyers are often looking for really cheap deals and you may not be able to get the money you want for your items.

∞ Consignment shops: Take your items to a local consignment shop and let them do the work to sell it for you. Policies vary on how much and when you will get paid depending on what type of store you choose. I love to bring items to my local “Once Upon a Child” store. I don’t often get a lot for my items, but sometimes it is worth it just to use the credit to buy other items I need from their store like clothes and books.


∞ Friends and family: Send an email, post on Facebook, or hold a swap party and share your clothes, toys, sporting equipment, etc. with friends and family. There are no costs involved and you know your items are going to someone who needs them and who you know.

∞ Online: I love swapping books, CDs and DVDs through this family of websites:, and I have gotten rid of many items we did not want any more in exchange for items on my wish lists. See my post on My favorite find – swapping books.

If all else fails and you have nowhere else to take an item, check to see if it can be recycled! See my post Recycle, recycle, recycle.

Please share ways you declutter responsibly in the Comments section!


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