On recycling…

We’ve been doing a big clear-out recently, and have got rid of a lot of stuff, and there’s more to go, to the extent that I’ve developed a strategy for getting rid of things.

Here, for what it’s worth, is the Status-Q guide to a more minimalist lifestyle, tuned somewhat for the Cambridge area:

If… Then it goes to…
Nobody likely to want it/impractical to get it to them Local dump/recycling centre
Somebody might want it enough to come and pick it up Freecycle group (now via TrashNothing.com)
Somebody local might want it enough to pay something for it, or, it would be tricky to ship. Gumtree
Somebody might want it enough to pay something for it, but probably not the sort of people who read Gumtree. Nearby charity shop.
Somebody might want it enough to pay something for it but probably not the sort of people who read Gumtree, and it’s electrical. British Heart Foundation shop, or the local Emmaus community.
Somebody might be willing to pay more for it, but they’re harder to find locally. eBay

There are, of course, variations on this theme, and many tricks of the trade.

  • How do you know whether people might pay a reasonable amount for it, or what might be a reasonable amount to ask? Go to eBay and search for the closest thing you can find, then select the option on the left that says ‘Show only… Sold listings’.
  • I’m fortunate to have a Post Office very close by, but for anything larger than, say, a book, a courier is generally cheaper these days. I recommend Parcel2Go as a quick way to find a cheap one.
  • Packing stuff for shipping can be a pain. If you know you’re going to be doing this, hoard your cardboard boxes and bubblewrap for a while beforehand, or find a local store and ask them to keep some for you. Buy yourself a proper packing-tape dispenser and lots of tape. Even the basic dispensers can work well. Big Jiffy bags are also useful.
  • If you want to get rid of stuff quickly, you can try more than one method in parallel. You can put stuff on Gumtree and eBay simultaneously, for example, until you get a bid on eBay. Somebody local might show up first and save you the problem of shipping.
  • But often, things go in series for me. Nobody local want it? Try eBay next. Then with international shipping options. Nobody want to pay for it? Try giving it away.
  • Oh, and you know the stuff we used to call bric-a-brac? It has a new name, now: vintage. Try sprinkling that through your advertisements…

Sometimes you get pleasant surprises. The old HP calculator that’s been gathering dust on my desk and getting in the way for a few decades turned out to be a collectible item, and has just sold for £56! In spite of donating quite a lot of it to charity, I’ve made about 400 quid over the last few weekends by getting rid of stuff I wasn’t using, and gained a lot of floor space as well.

But, really, it’s not about the money. It’s about not wasting stuff when somebody else would value it more than you do. I’ve been finding decluttering refreshing and liberating, even though some of the items had sentimental associations. Mmm. Perhaps getting rid of those is actually the most liberating?

3 Comments

I am completely lazy, give it all to a charity shop who will collect and let them decide what to sell in shop, eBay etc. Having a lot of my late wife’s effects to dispose of, she raised over £1,000 for Arthur Rank House, a local hospice where she volunteered.

I you haven’t, Q, please have a look at Marie Kondo’s cute little book about Tidying Up. (The Life-Changing Magic of….) Mixed reception by readers, maybe, but I found it endearing. And effective 🙂 Ask yourself just how many USB cables you actually need to have a fulfilling life, and say goodbye to the rest. And now in my fourth year of paperlessness, life is so much simpler. And tidier.

Thanks Frazer – have ordered a copy.

Interestingly, the paperback version costs less than Kindle, and arrives almost as fast. It will add clutter, though 🙂

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