28 February 2016

If you're going away for any length of time, you'll need to organise your stuff.

We've already given advice on packing up your stuff and how to safely store it, but what about the stuff you no longer want or need?

Here's how to get rid of it.

Take it to a charity shop

Obvious, right? But remember some pointers:

  • If your stuff is in really crap condition, the shop can't sell it, and it costs them money to throw it away. The exception is clothes as these can be recycled.
  • Some of the bigger charity shops have vintage sections, or auction off the more precious stuff. This means that anything you have of value will generate more cash for the charity, and won't be wasted by being sold too cheaply.
  • Gift aid it, if you can.
  • Call them first if you have big stuff, or electrical goods (the leccy stuff needs to be tested and smaller charity shops don't always have someone to do this).
  • If you have a lot of things to get rid of, the shop might come and collect from your house. Give them a call!

Take it to a specialist charity recycler

For glasses, see if your optician recycles them for use in developing countries.

For tools, donate to Tools for Self Reliance.

For computers and other IT stuff, donate to ComputerAid.

You can take your phone to a charity shop, or sometimes the shop where you get your new phone will recycle your old one.

Sell it

If you've got anything of any value, selling it will give you a bit of extra cash for your career break.

  • eBay is the obvious first choice for selling anything, but there are more specialist and cheaper places too.
  • If you have a lot of second-hand books, you can sell them through Amazon (you can sell other products through Amazon too, if they're in good condition).
  • Schpock, which bills itself as a boot sale app, can help you get rid of stuff.
  • An actual car boot sale is also a good bet, or you can have an American-style yard sale (where you sell your stuff from your garden).
  • Facebook has local buying and selling groups, often for specialist items (like baby things).
  • There are various sites that will sell your old technology, but you probably won't get much for it.
  • An old-fashioned ad in the paper can sell specific items.

Give it away

But who to? Here are some suggestions:

  • Friends. The easiest method, and will make you popular! If you have a going away party, you can set up a free shop so your mates can just take what they want.
  • Freecycle - search for your local group, join it, then post what you've got to give away. People are expected to collect their items, so it's less work for you than some of the other methods. Also, if you've given something away on Freecycle, you're allowed to ask for things, so you can post a request for any travel items you might need.
  • Large or specialist items (like IT equipment, furniture, bikes etc) can often go to a charity who redistributes them to people with not much money. A furniture project will usually collect from your house.
  • Post it on social media - even if your mates don't want your old stuff, they might know someone who does.

Recycle it

If your stuff is too knackered to sell or give away, take it to the tip. They have recycling facilities there for almost everything! No car? No mate with a car? The council will usually come and pick up your big rubbish for free if you arrange it with them (you can usually do this online).

Some final things to remember

  • If giving or selling stuff to people you don't know, take the usual amount of care with your privacy and safety.
  • Be honest in your descriptions, even if giving stuff away for free. No-one wants to drive miles on a Saturday to pick up your coffee table to discover it's all scratched.
  • Don't give something away that's in bad condition (unless someone specifically asks for a tatty or broken item - which they do on Freecycle sometimes!). A charity shop won't be able to sell it, and a furniture project or mission won't rehome it. And it's kind of patronising to the poor.
  • Enjoy the freedom that comes with having less stuff! Plus you can bask in the comfort knowing that you have helped others, and your stuff is actually being used rather than festering away in a storage unit.

Do you have any tips for getting rid of stuff? Tell us on Facebook or Twitter.