Inside: Before you drop off bag after bag of decluttered items to your local thrift store this year, you may want to consider selling that clutter, instead. Here are 5 convincing reasons that have very little to do with money, and everything to do with changing your shopping habits for the long haul.
Oh January, the time for new beginnings everywhere. And for so many of us, that also means making some kind of effort towards a decluttered and organized home.
I love reading about all things minimalism and decluttering, which means I’ve read my fair share of decluttering books and blogs.
I started to see the same advice offered over and over about what to do with clutter after you decide it actually is clutter and needs to go.
Multiple books/blogs recommend getting it out as fast as possible, and a lot of the time that looks like making multiple trips to local thrift stores to donate unwanted items.
But what if thrift stores don’t want all of our stuff? What if they can’t use even half of it?
I once read that 80% of clothes sent to thrift stores end up in the trash. Whether or not that number is accurate is debatable.
But according to one source, that 80% number goes for almost everything else you drop off, too!
It turns out that thrift stores receive so many donations, employees have to sort through it all and determine whether or not an item is really worthy of shelf space.
And I definitely believe them.
I’ve seen the back storeroom of several thrift stores, and there is simply too.much.stuff. to sort through. Bags and bags and bags of our cast-offs.
So should we really be donating our clutter? Or is selling it the way to go?
Why Decluttering Experts Push Donating Clutter, Instead of Selling It
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I absolutely understand why the majority of decluttering experts recommend donating clutter instead of selling it.
If you are really serious about decluttering and this is your first attempt, clutter is probably a major source of anxiety and stress.
If you struggle with hoarding or throwing things away, keeping clutter in a designated place while you try to sell or rehome it may lead you to question your decluttering decisions.
Those decluttered items may creep back into your home, leaving you right back where you started.
I agree: selling clutter a huge pain compared to dropping off donations.
That’s why I debated a long time before writing this article.
But I have also personally seen the overwhelmingly positive benefits of selling your clutter.
I didn’t always think this way….
When Your Clutter Isn’t Worth Selling
A long time ago I wrote an article about selling your clutter, whether it was truly worth the effort.
Because when I first started this decluttering journey, we lived on a lowish income. Our stuff wasn’t that great.
It wasn’t like we had a ton of items lying around that we weren’t using that were actually worth a lot of money.
No fancy electronics. No desireable furniture.
Pretty much everything we owned was outdated, well used, or already handed down a few times.
So I didn’t really see the point.
But five years later, I realize that selling your clutter isn’t really about the money. It’s about so much more than that.
Any money you make selling your clutter is just a bonus. Icing on the cake.
What I Really Mean When I Say, “Sell Your Clutter”
When I say “selling” your clutter, it doesn’t always mean you’re raking in the dough here. Your main motivation shouldn’t be to make back the money you spent on all of the clutter you’re getting rid of (in short: you can’t).
The point of selling your clutter is making the extra effort to responsibly “rehome” your clutter. You’re finding someone who actually wants or needs what you no longer want or need.
You don’t even need to ask for money for it.
You can offer it for free on Facebook marketplace or Offer Up. Or list it for a nominal amount – $1-2 (because sometimes people are suspicious of free stuff).
If the season is right, have a yard sale. Or go in with friends and neighbors, since multiple family yard sales tend to attract more people.
Basically, the main motivation for selling clutter isn’t always to make money.
Here are 5 Major Benefits of Selling Your Clutter (Instead of Donating It)
1. You’re doing your part to save the planet.
When you take the trouble to rehome your clutter, instead of just dropping it off at the local thrift store, that clutter is less likely to end up in a landfill. Period.
Someone else may need or want what you consider to be clutter.
OR there are people who are professional “flippers”. They make a living selling things on eBay and have space to store items until they sell. They are constantly looking for items they can get at low cost that they know will eventually sell.
Either way, selling your clutter – for giving it away for free – can do your small part to save the planet.
2. Selling your clutter forces you to feel the pain of the “stuff” problem in our culture.
This may sound harsh, so I’ll stick to my own personal revelations.
When we recently moved out of the city, and I no longer had easy access to thrift stores, I only had two options:
- Sell our unwanted items, or
- Throw them away.
Especially when it came to bigger items, I would have to PAY the dump to take them off my hands. You’re allowed one free “bulk item” a year. That’s it.
Otherwise, you pay $5, $10 or more for the dump to take them. Yes – pay someone else to take the stuff you paid money for.
Having lived in the city most of my adult life, I was never forced to reckon with the reality of what happens to my unwanted stuff after it leaves my home. I paid a small amount monthly for trash and recycling, and there were always bulk pick-up days.
Before, I would drop it off at the thrift store or maybe make feeble attempts to rehome the items first.
But to be honest, the thrift store drop-offs were easier.
Having a limit on the number of trash bags you can take to the dump each week without paying for them, and needing to PAY to get rid of something.
That makes you realize the magnitude of your clutter problem pretty fast. Which leads to…
3. You reform your shopping habits pretty quickly.
Sometimes the time it takes to declutter isn’t enough to change your habits.
It might for a while.
But after a while, the memory fades, and you start accumulating new clutter.
On the other hand, when you are forced to not only declutter, but to wait for something to sell (or are inconvenienced by the time it takes to get an unwanted item to someone else) you change your shopping habits pretty quickly.
You say a hard “no thank you” to every random purchase at Target, in the check-out line, or at a thrift store.
You develop strategies to avoid impulse buys.
Pain forces us to change.
4. You experience the joy of knowing someone else will use what you can’t.
Seeing the joy in someone’s face (or in their response to your Facebook post) when they can use something you can’t is priceless.
Whether you end up selling your clutter or giving it away to a friend or random stranger, the effect is the same.
Someone else is SO thankful to have found the exact item they needed for cheap or free.
The first time it happens, you’ll be hooked. It’s a pretty awesome feeling.
5. Last, but not least, you can occasionally make a decent amount of money selling your clutter.
Depending on what you have to start with, you might be able to make a decent amount of money selling your clutter.
Have a massive yard sale, try Facebook marketplace, or learn how to sell clutter on eBay.
Whatever method your choose, it’s a nice side benefit of decluttering to make a little bit of cash, especially if you need the income.
But it can also serve as a painful, but healthy reminder about how little cost you can recoup from what you originally pay for brand new items.
If you do end up enjoying the process of reselling your clutter, check out this free webinar about how to make a full-time living reselling unwanted items on eBay.
The Best Places to Sell Your Clutter
Yard sale can be fun…but they can also be a lot of work for not much profit.
I am only planning on doing on this summer with my kids, but mostly to help them earn a bit of money, have fun and learn some valuable lessons along the way.
Personally, I’ve found Facebook Marketplace or the Offer Up app to be the two best ways to sell clutter, especially if you are selling bigger items like furniture or electronics.
You can also list things on your personal Facebook page, as long as you don’t do it too frequently and your main goal is to sell clutter locally to friends or family.
Ebay can be a great way to sell smaller items: books or children’s toys in good condition can do really well here. Just make sure to ship items promptly.
Gently used or unworn clothes can be resold on eBay or on Mercari. Children’s clothes tend to do especially well when sold in “lots” – 15 2T Winter Clothing Items.
Make sure to treat stains well before selling clothes– I’ve heard this OxiClean product works wonders.
Sometimes, Donating Clutter is Inevitable. And That’s O.K.
Sometimes life happens.
You’re a mom of young kids. You’re elderly and listing multiple things online, plus meet-ups with local buyers, is just too exhausting.
Maybe you have a serious anxiety disorder, and you honestly do need the clutter gone – NOW.
Whatever the reason, if you need to drop things off at the thrift store, that’s o.k. Please don’t feel guilty about a genuine need to do a huge donation drop-off.
One way to help your local thrift store is before you dropping things off, make sure the items you’re donating are in decent condition. If something honestly needs to go in the trash, throw it away instead of donating it.
The one exception is electronics or appliances. Someone else might want to go to the trouble of fixing and selling it. You can offer it for free on Facebook marketplace, making sure to be transparent that the item is broken.
In future rounds of decluttering, when the number of items isn’t so overwhelming or you are in a different season of life, I encourage you to try selling your clutter, instead.
You might be surprised how rewarding it is.
We Have to Start Decluttering Responsibly – Our Future Depends On It
The earth can only hold so much stuff. Space for our discarded items isn’t infinite, and the rate at which they decompose simply cannot keep up with our waste.
I honestly wonder what the earth will look like for my children. For my grandchildren.
What’s the tipping point? Walle isn’t as far-fetched as we like to think it is.
Declutter, yes, but don’t declutter to make room for more stuff.
Declutter to make time for what you love. Declutter to change your shopping habits and to stop killing the planet for our own greed.
Taking the time to sell my clutter is honestly the best way I’ve found to quench my own thirst for new stuff, to reform my shopping habits once and for all, which has helped us in more ways than one.
I hope it does the same for you, too.