It’s easy to look at your old junk and assume no one would want it, and you should just toss it in the garbage. But “one person’s trash is another person’s treasure” isn’t just a wishy-washy saying: it’s 110% true.
My wife and I recently moved across the country and we sold most of our stuff to make the moving process easier. Things like furniture and lawn equipment sold like hotcakes, but we were less sure about other stuff, like weird decorations and some old drawer chests that were falling apart. Plus, we had a lot of odds and ends, like half-empty bottles of rubbing alcohol and used paint brushes. We thought surely no one would want any of this, but we didn’t want to just throw it away, nor did we want to pack it in boxes and move it with us.
To make quick work of selling our stuff, we hosted a couple of garage sales in the spring and priced stuff low enough so they would easily sell (even the hot ticket items). We put really low price tags on all the junk we thought no one would want. If not, then we’d just give it away on the last day of the garage sale. But sure enough, people were really interested in this stuff, and they even paid money for it, albeit tiny amounts. Someone even took the litter box enclosure I built a few years ago for our cats, complete with urine stains and kitty litter stuck in all sorts of crevices. The buyer said he was going to use it as a shelter for his rabbits.
That turned on a light bulb in my head—just because I have no use for something anymore, doesn’t mean that someone else won’t. It never occurred to me a litter box enclosure could be used for rabbits, nor did I ever think about the fact that 25¢ is a great deal for a half bottle of rubbing alcohol. And those drawer chests that were falling apart? The buyer may have simply been attracted to the drawer pulls, for all I know.
Don’t get me wrong: even if you know someone would be interested in something you want to get rid of, it’s still annoying to deal with Craigslist buyers, or put together a garage sale. But you have a lot of options to choose from, depending on what you’re trying to get rid of and how much effort you want to go through.
If you have stuff that’s easily ship-able (i.e. small items), eBay is the place I tend to go to first. Even broken electronics do really well on eBay, since most buyers will take them off your hands for cheap in the hopes they can repair them back to their former glory (or sell its parts with a markup). Plus, eBay reaches millions of potential buyers, which is great for an item that’s a bit obscure or niche.
Larger items that aren’t easily shippable are better off posted locally, whether that’s Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, NextDoor, LetGo, OfferUp, or similar sites—different sites are variably popular in different regions, so you may have to post on a few to get bites.
It may seem like a hassle to list stuff for sale or give away, but it’s surprising how much effort someone will go through to take something off your hands, especially if you give it away for free, or something close to it. Usually, they’ll even come pick it up and you literally never have to leave your house. I’ve listed plenty of free stuff on Craigslist, and I’ll just leave it outside the house for someone to come pick up. It’s super convenient for me, and it feels a lot better than dumping something in a bin and trying to erase the guilt as I walk away.
By selling (or giving away) the stuff you no longer want, not only are you giving it a better home, (and making someone happy in the process), you’re keeping it out of landfills, which is good for the environment.
Title image by Bob n Renee/Flickr