Updated: Mar 20
You've done a great job sorting through your things deciding what items you want to keep and you're left with unwanted items. Now what? If you're like most homeowners I work with, you'll know where you want to take some items, while other items (electronics or hazardous waste) are a bit more unclear. Not to worry! This post will help you navigate the options of
Hazard Waste Disposal
This post includes many national solutions to getting rid of your stuff along with options in my home town of Minneapolis-St. Paul.
I'm an advocate for donating unwanted items since the need in our communities is large. While an item no longer brings you joy, it might be the very thing someone else has been looking for quite some time.
Give Back Box partners with many retailers and has truly created a new method of waste diversion. In addition to creating a secondary use for the shipping box and guaranteeing that it will be recycled, it helps clear closets.
Fill out a pre-requested bag from the site, mail your items for donation or to sell.
Bridging is one of my go-to recommendations for furnishings and household items. You can drop off items at the Bridging facilities in Bloomington or schedule a pick up for a small fee. Bridging was founded on a simple idea that together we can create a bridge between those in need and those in excess.
Hope Chest for Breast Cancer is a resale shop including upscale home furnishings and accessories as well as high-end women's clothing. A percentage of the revenue funds the Emergency Assistance Grants that support local breast cancer patients and their families with financial support. You can drop off items at their resale shops located in Bloomington, Eden Prairie and Orono or schedule a pick up for a small fee.
Sharing & Caring Hands is set up to help with whatever needs of the poor are not being met. This includes providing meals, clothing, showers, shelter, transportation, rent assistance, medical assistance, dental care and other expenses. You can drop off items at their facilities in Minneapolis.
Disabled American Veterans is a national organization whose mission is to help build better lives for veterans and their families. The Minnesota chapter has the same mission, but the dollars stay in the state to help Minnesota veterans and their families. You can drop off items at several Twin Cities drop off locations or schedule a pick up.
Habitat for Humanity is a nonprofit organization that helps families build and improve places to call home. They believe affordable housing plays a critical role in strong and stable communities. To help fund their mission, the accept donations of household goods and building materials they sell at their restores. You can drop off items at their restores or schedule a pick up.
Arc Value Village resale outlets are located throughout the Twin Cities. The Mission of Arc's Value Village is to provide funding for The Arc Minnesota’s programs that help adults and children with disabilities and our community.
Goodwill is a convenient option with locations throughout the Twin Cities. The mission of Goodwill® is to enhance the dignity and quality of life of individuals and families by helping people reach their full potential through education, skills training and the power of work.
There are many organizations that can use your old electronics for good. Below are some for you to consider:
This international organization accepts working computers, monitors, scanners and more and distributes them to schools in more than 70 developing countries.
This organization refurbishes and then donates electronics to schools, foster homes, veterans and more. Donations are accepted on a case-by-case basis.
This organization helps eliminate e-waste by making it easy for you to donate your electronics. They distribute the tech to a variety of organizations who can give the electronics a new life.
This organization helps provide US troops with prepaid international calling cards for active members as well as emergency funding to veterans in need by selling or recycling the electronics.
This organization provides free, emergency-only cell phones to domestic violence centers, senior citizen centers and police and sheriff departments.
This organization facilitates donations between consumers and hundreds of charitable and educational organizations in the US.
If you want to turn your clutter into cash, there are many different ways to do that, but will require some work on your part. You can consign your things, sell them at a digital marketplace or app, or set them out on a table and have a garage sale at your home. Whatever you choose, the list below should help you get started.
Consignment is an option for those who want to have someone else sell your clothes for you. The basic drill at a consignment store is you bring your unwanted items to the store and they sell them for you. They will take a cut of the sale and will provide you with a portion of the sale.
The Real Real - specializing in authenticated upscale items, this online retailer can help you get cash for your high-end fashion items.
TWIN CITIES CONSIGNMENT
June - one retail location in Minneapolis where you can buy or consign higher-end fashion clothing and accessories of women.
DIGITAL MARKETPLACES + APPS
There are many online marketplaces and apps where you can sell your unwanted items. Some options require a fee, while others let you sell your unwanted items for free.
Craigslist - online marketplace with no fee for selling.
Facebook Marketplace - online marketplace with no fee for selling.
SELLING SPECIALTY ITEMS
If you choose to sell your old electronics, there are several places you can get money for those items, including some of the marketplaces and apps listed above. The sites listed below are dedicated to the sale of electronics and generally work in a similar way: You visit their website or download their app, input what item(s) you wish to sell, you learn what they are worth and then you send the items in to the company. Once the company receives the item, you are paid.
Gizmogul - They donate one dollar from each transaction to help build schools around the world.
Large retailers like Apple, Amazon and Best Buy have trade-in programs.
You can sell your musical instruments using most of the digital marketplaces and apps listed above. Below are some options that are dedicated to musical equipment.
Guitar Center - locations throughout the Twin Cities to buy + sell old instruments
MusicGoRound - locations throughout the Twin Cities to buy + sell old instruments
Options to sell your wedding dress include:
Love curling up to the latest novel, but ready to part with some of the books you no longer cherish? There are several wonderful ways to share your love of reading by donating your old books to others listed below. Additionally, there are also places you call sell your books for cash.
Local Libraries, Schools, Churches + Shelters - most welcome unwanted books.
Operation Paperback - program where you ship your unwanted books to active military individuals or groups through secure online system.
BooksforSoldiers - similar to Operation Paperback, you ship your unwanted books to active military or groups based on requests from the field.
BookMooch - online community where you mail in your books and decide if you want to simply donate them or get points to get books for yourself.
HalfPricedBooks - retail locations throughout the country where you can either donate or sell your books.
SellBackYourBook - online store where you can sell your books to them through the mail.
If you have children in sports, you know they grow out of sports equipment and clothing very quickly. Below are a few options of how to move those items out of your home.
Talk to your club - many sports clubs partner with underprivileged youth from around the globe who take old sports equipment.
There are two main ways to recycle most items and that is through a home pick up service or at a local drop off.
HOME PICK UP
Home pick up of recycling is often through a local municipality. These services typically allows you to recycle paper, recyclable plastics and glass. Other items (eg. electronics, large appliances, hazardous waste) require additional steps to recycle or dispose.
To find a recylcing service in your area, check with your city.
LOCAL DROP OFF
Cities and counties across the nation offer opportunities to recycle items either at an ongoing location or for limited time recycling events. Please check with your city and county for details.
Often, a great place to recycle your old electronics is where you buy your new one. It's always easiest to recycle your old electronic when you purchase the new one as you'll still have knowledge of the passwords making wiping it clean easier. Below are some of the largest across the country as well as a local Twin Cities option.
You can contact the Appliance Recycling Centers of America if you have appliances you would like to recycle. Best Buy also accepts most large appliances. Some gas and electric companies offer a rebate program, so check with yours. The EPA’s Energy Star Program provides a list of special offers and rebates for recycling large appliances when you purchase new Energy Star models.
For a comprehensive list of recylcing opportunities, check out this blog
HAZARD WASTE DISPOSAL
The best resource for Minnesota residents to find answers of where to go to dispose of hazardous waste items is the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency: https://www.pca.state.mn.us/
Once on the website, you are able to search for the Hazardous Waste Facilities closest to you. Once you're at the facility, the process is quite simple. You simply drive into the facility with the items in your car and the staff guides you through the process from asking you what you have, to paying fees via cash or credit card if you need to pay any, to unloading your car. You'll be in an out in about 5 minutes. Don't forget to bring your driver's license as you will need this with you in order to bring your items into the facility.
The items I'm talking about here include, but are not limited to:
Electronics: computers* + computer accessories, audio visual equipment, phones, rechargeable products
Household, Lawn + Garden: paint, stain, varnish, solvents, driveway sealer, pesticides, florescent bulbs, aerosols, pool chemicals, mercury thermometers and thermostats, oil filters, automotive fluids, motor oil
Needles and Sharps
Appliances*: microwaves, refrigerators, freezers, water heaters, dishwashers, dehumidifiers, washers, dryers, stoves, air conditioners, furnaces
Mattresses + Box Springs*
Ammunition + Explosives
*there is typically a fee to dispose of these items
It does take more time to responsibly dispose of some household items, but it's the right thing to do. Part of owning things is to take care of them through their entire lifecycle. My advice is to continue to learn more about how to discard items in your local area because the more you know, the less anxiety you will encounter when it's time to say goodbye to harder to get rid of items.