As a professional organizer, I am asked some questions over and over. It seems that no matter who the individual or family is, we all have universal questions and concerns when it comes to our “stuff.” One of the common questions I hear is “what do I do with all the stuff I don’t want anymore?” Looking over my blog posts, I realized I’ve discussed the importance of purging in the organizing process and even tips to help with purging (see “Secrets Professional Organizers Use to Help Clients Purge from the Home” by clicking here), but I haven’t actually given you information on HOW to purge. So, if you are on board with the organizing train and you want to organize and purge, this post will give you three options for dispersing items. I think this information is helpful for anyone, but especially those of you who are on the verge of moving and/or downsizing. My three-part formula is: sell, donate, dispose.
If possible, most of my clients want to sell items they are purging. There are many options for selling things and these include:
- Retail Consignment
- Online Consignment
- Estate Sales
- Garage Sales
- Specialty dealers that buy specific items such as gold, artwork, etc.
- Apps such as Facebook Marketplace, Offer Up, Next Door
When selling, it’s important to be realistic about the current value of the item being sold. Items don’t always carry the same value identified by the seller. Most categories of items, for example furniture and clothes, depreciate over time. Keeping this in mind will save you a great deal of frustration and aggravation.
Pro Tip: If you are selling an antique or piece of artwork, it’s helpful to have the original paperwork that documents the origin of the item. This will help you authenticate and appraise the item, so you can be educated prior to the sale.
When you can’t sell items in your home, the next best option is donation. Donation has many benefits in that the item(s) are removed from the home without cost and you may receive a tax deduction. Similar to selling items, it’s very important to be realistic about what can be donated. Many charities are selective with what they will take and some require photos of the item prior to donation. For example, I’ve found that charities will not accept any item that is excessively worn, ripped, stained, or contains an odor. Moreover, some will not accept chairs without a table (or vice versa) and large entertainment centers/armoires. Additionally, some charities will not cross the threshold of your home, so you need to consider where the item is located in your home and if you can physically transfer the item to your garage or outside. Due to these challenges, you may need to jump to the third option: disposal.
Pro Tip #1: Think outside of the box when it comes to donation and consider options such as donating to schools, museums, senior centers, etc.
Pro Tip #2: If you are moving or downsizing and thus donating a large volume of items, set up multiple donation pick ups each week leading up to your transition. Most charities can only pick up 20-25 bags/boxes per trip to your home.
When you can’t sell or donate an item, the last option for purging is disposal either through trash and recycling; or in the case of paper through shredding or document destruction. I understand it can be disheartening to see things in your home purged in this manner, but the reality is we simply cannot keep things forever and some items just cannot be reused or repurposed. If you have a large volume of items in this category and if the items are heavy, consider hiring a junk removal company to assist you. Most are environmentally conscious and will recycle what they can. There are also companies that can assist you with large volumes of shredding and document destruction.
Pro Tip: It can be difficult to get rid of paint, expired medication, batteries, and household chemicals in your home. Contact your village or county to get information on how to purge these items safely in your community.
Although purging can be difficult both emotionally and physically, it is a crucial step when organizing and moving. Sometimes just knowing what to do with your “stuff” is half the battle. As always, try not to focus on what you are getting rid of, but what you are keeping. Those are the items that fill our lives with joy and you’ll reap the benefits of living an organized life as well!