How to Donate and Sell Your Clutter Sustainably

May 21, 2020

I’m on a mission to help people donate, sell, recycle, and dispose of their clutter in the most responsible and efficient way.

I was virtual tidying with my client recently, and the next day we had this exchange:

Client: I donated all the books we discarded yesterday – quickest amount of time between choosing to discard and actual discarding! And I donated art supplies today, and the recliner is getting removed tomorrow!

Me: WOW! You’re on a releasing roll!

She preferred the term “release” over “discard” when letting go responsibly.

Her relief was palpable (even through our inboxes). That feeling when you finally knock something stubborn off of your to-do list, once and for all.

Most of the people I work with reach out to me because they are ready to let go. Where they get stuck is making sure everything they release is going to the “right” place.

Do not let uncertainty around how to get low/no joy items out of your home discourage you from tidying up.

By making the choice to live clutter free, you and your family can give back, contribute to your community, environmental causes, or even turn your “stuff” back into cash without even leaving your home.

Check out these creative, efficient, and responsible ways to discard, recycle, donate, and sell things in your home that no longer spark joy.

Note: I recommend double checking hours of operation, drop-off/pick-up protocol, and other stipulations or limitations associated with ALL vendors and platforms mentioned below shortly before or on your letting go day.

Also local directories like the one from can help you narrow down the best options in Illinois and five other states.

Consign from your computer

If you’ve ignored your “things to sell” pile for way too long, now’s the time to strike this task off of your to-do list and get money back in your pocket. I’m a big fan of low effort/hands-off bulk resale options for clothing, books, home goods, and electronics. They help you save valuable time and leave the sorting, selling, and valuation to the experts.

Most offer free shipping and handling and automatic recycling or donation of goods that don’t sell. Here are some of my favorites:

Make sure items that you bring to the resale market are in good condition, free of signs of wear, damage, or alternations.

Interested in selling items yourself? Just remember the value of your time

You don’t want to spend two weeks trying to sell something for $2.

Remember, your item is worth what the market will pay for it. Prioritize high value, high quality, in demand items and let go of the rest with gratitude. Opt for the items to be picked up locally, or broaden your market by offering shipment options.

Here are some of my favorite user friendly platforms and apps:

Donate: Give back from home

Depending on the volume of clutter that you have, some donation centers offer free pick-up or shipping labels.

Books 4 Cause accepts your donated books (within 20-mile radius of Skokie, IL) to create over 118 libraries in Africa. They’ve recirculated hundreds of thousands of books and saved even more from landfills. If you have over 100+ books to release at a time, they offer FREE local pick-up, or you can drop books off at their warehouse in Avondale. They also accept CDs, DVDs, vinyl, and collectible trading cards.

Give Back Box is one of the most convenient ways to give your things a second life using empty shipping boxes that may already be cluttering your entry way. Respectfully pack household items such as clothes, shoes, toys and jewelry into a cardboard box (70 pounds or less) and they take care of the rest, including distributing items to local charity organizations:

The Salvation Army and The Brown Elephant offer FREE pick-up of clothing, books, miscellaneous goods, household items and furniture. Certain conditions apply.

Donate: Free-standing bin or convenient drive-through/drop-off

Avoid overcomplicating the “letting go” process by leaning on a free-standing donation kiosks.

Research local donation bins in your area that typically accept clothing and books. Here in Chicago, I recommend:

  • GreenCity Project for clothes and Open Books (free-standing kiosks)
  • Little Free Libraries – depends on local availability

Other organizations with convenient drive-through/drop-off options include:

Humble Design custom designs and fully furnishes home interiors for individuals, families and veterans emerging from homelessness. They regularly accept gently used home goods at their warehouse in Chicago and also have locations in Cleveland, Detroit, San Diego, and Seattle. Volunteer opportunities are regularly available.

A mother and two young children sitting on a brown couch in their newly decorated living room.
A group of ten volunteers who just donate their talent and time to Humble Design.

Recycling remains essential

Some recycling centers and drop-off options associated with essential services have remained opened. For example:

  • Target has recycling stations that conveniently allow you to recycle plastic bags, MP3 players, cell phones, and ink cartridges.

Some locations may have temporarily or permanently suspended product trade-in and recycling services. Research local availability:

  • Lowe’s Collection Centers (bulbs, batteries, and cell phones)
  • Staples and Best Buy (everything from CDs to printers)

When it comes to recycling your rejects, do your research and check in with your favorite brands. For example, Knickey accepts ANY ready-to-retire intimates by mail, turning them into insulation, rug pads, and rags.

Donate or Dispose: Large scale item “junk” removal

Two men with safety masks moving and old donated sofa into a green truck for junk removal as they donate.

The Honest Junk Company – they pick up everything and anything from residential to corporate projects and liquidations. They give all usable items to nonprofit partners to both help the community and reduce waste in landfills. All revenue goes to the Chicago Furniture Bank, furnish 3,200 homes for families leaving homelessness. Pickups can be scheduled within 48 business hours.

Habitat for Humanity Restore – currently accepting bed frames, rugs, carpets, dishwashers, dining tables, and tiles

1-800-GOT-JUNK? – full service removal. They donate reusable items to local charities and recycle certani items after pick-up. More on that here:

Budget Dumpster is another junk removal option. Their roll off dumpsters can be used for common household and commercial projects, including home cleanouts, remodeling, general construction and demolition.

If you’re looking for an even simpler way to efficiently dispose of remodeling and home cleanup project debris, check out Dumpster in a Bag. Simply 1) buy the Bagster bag 2) fill it with waste and 3) call when you’re ready for pickup.

A husband and wife loading their junk into a large green bag that lays in their driveway as they donate.

Lean on a virtual community to find fans of your uniquely special items

If you have unique items like eyewear, Christmas ornaments, or collectable dolls that you’re looking to move on to a second life, I highly recommend leaning on a network of community groups. Here are some options:

  • Tell your friends! (personal post on any social media platform)
  • Facebook Marketplace
  • Join a “Buy Nothing” Facebook group (search one for in your neighborhood)
  • Join your neighborhood’s Facebook community page
  • Join a private Facebook group, specifically related to the item you’re trying to find (there is a group for everything!) For example, if you’re looking to donate/sell cassette tapes, search “sell cassette tapes” within Facebook to find the private group: Cassette tape addicts – Buy / Sell / Trade

Still stuck? I’d love to help you figure how to get on a releasing roll!

It literally makes me sad when someone is ready to release something, but can’t figure out how! So my “doors” are always open to help you move your possessions through appropriate releasing channels.

Drop the item that you’re interested in selling/donating/recycling/discarding in the comments below so I can 1) find you a vendor, platform, or organization that’s the best fit and 2) continue to expand this guide with more resources for all to use and share!

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