How to Responsibly Declutter Your Stuff
Like I mentioned in my post discussing retail therapy and conscious consumption, I’ve come to the realization that I actually need to be mindful of how I declutter if I want to be a more responsible human being. This post is organized in the steps that I usually go through when deciding how and where to declutter any items I no longer want or need.
The pictures I’ve incorporated throughout this post depict the current state of my clothing, beauty, and book organization, as these were the three main areas where I tried to declutter and reorganize. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the foresight to take any before pictures, but I’ve come a really long way! And I feel so much better knowing that I’m doing my best to declutter responsibly :)
1. Give to family/friends
This is always my first step, especially if it’s something that’s brand new or in pristine condition. I often times pass on beauty products to my mom, siblings, or friends, and my sister always gets first pick for clothing items.
If no one wants the stuff I want to get rid of, I’ll always try to sell the item first. Depending on how badly I want to get rid of the item and the condition that the item is in, I won’t always sell an item for profit. As for how I sell items, I use a variety of methods.
I’ve been using Poshmark the longest. I like Poshmark because it’s pretty user friendly and streamlined, and Poshmark automatically generates a shipping label (buyer pays) for you. Unless you have a bulky item that you’re selling, it’s easy to pack the item up and just drop it off at a mail box. I’ve sold clothing, shoes, and beauty items. One downside is that if you want to sell fragrance or aerosol items (dry shampoo, hairspray, setting spray), you’ll have to go elsewhere. Those items are ground shipping only, and Poshmark’s shipping labels are for Priority Mail, which is always by air. The commission is also 20%, or a flat fee of $2.95 for sales under $15, which is higher than Depop.
I’ve only started using Depop in the last few months, and I like Depop for different reasons than Poshmark. For one, I like that Depop has more flexibility when it comes to shipping. You can choose who pays the shipping cost (seller or buyer), who takes care of the shipping label (you or Depop), and the size of the shipping label if you choose Depop shipping (small, medium, large). The commission is also lower, at just 10%. I’ve sold clothing, beauty items (including fragrance and aerosol!), and video games on Depop. I don’t really prefer one over the other between Poshmark and Depop, and, most of the time, I actually cross-post listings on both apps.
If you have luxury items that you want to declutter, I highly recommend TheRealReal. They offer free shipping for any items that you wish to consign, and even offer to have someone come to your place to evaluate whatever items you wish to consign (this is probably dependent on where you live). Generally, you get 55% of whatever they price the item at, which I think is pretty good, especially because I don’t have to worry about selling off the item myself. I’ve already consigned over 10 items with TheRealReal, and most of them sold pretty quickly.
Depending on which store you go to, the payout can range from really reasonable to horrible. My favorite store that I’ve sold at is Crossroads Trading Co. They’re definitely one of the more picky stores, as they usually only will take items that are more in season and in style, but I’ve found their payouts to be the best. They also give you the option of getting 50% in store credit or 33% in cash of the price they’re selling your items for in store. They also have a consignment service for your more expensive items with a pretty reasonable consignment rate - 50% for items under $200, and I don’t remember the other rates, but it’s probably a bit better than 50%. Buffalo Exchange also has similar payouts, though I’m not sure if they have a consignment service. I’ve also sold at a local secondhand store, but it wasn’t my favorite because I only got $15 for 5 items. It was better than nothing, but it wasn’t the best feeling, so I’d probably only try to sell there again as a last resort.
You can sell books as well! Generally, I don’t like getting rid of books, but there are just some books I didn’t enjoy or couldn’t get into and would rather pass on to someone that would enjoy them. If you have one near you, Half Price Books will buy your books. I’ve also sold books at a local secondhand bookstore as well. Sometimes, these stores will also help you pass on any books that they don’t want to buy.
If you’re looking to get a big payout from your items, I would not recommend this site. I like selling to ThredUp for items that I’m pretty sure Crossroads won’t take and that I know I’ll have difficulty selling on my own. The first time I used this service, I shipped out a massive box, and they only decided to sell 12 pieces. If I had put those pieces on consignment I would’ve gotten around $21 as the items sold, but I didn’t think it was worth it. I got the immediate payout instead, which was around $14. What I do like though is that they’ll recycle items they don’t want to sell. If you use your own box to ship your items to them, they’ll also provide you with a free shipping label.
buyback programs for electronics
Stores like Amazon, Target, and Best Buy all offer buy back programs for certain electronics. It’s a great way to get some cash (or an Amazon gift card if you sell to Amazon) for electronics that are still in decent condition but that you don’t use anymore. Additionally, there are also sites like BuyBackWorld, for a variety of electronics, and Cash for Your Mac, for Apple products. I’ve used BuyBackWorld to sell an old Garmin GPS and Cash for Your Mac to sell an old MacBook.
Whenever I donated before, I always would just donate massive boxes to Goodwill. While I do still donate to Goodwill, I think of it as a last resort. Instead, I’ve found a few other charities and organizations that I will always donate to first if I can.
Support the Girls: Feminine hygiene products and new/gently used bras.
Dress for Success: Professional attire, shoes, accessories for women.
One Warm Coat: New and gently worn coats.
Bottomless Closet: New/gently used professional attire, shoes, accessories for women and unopened toiletries, personal care items, and cosmetics.
Career Gear: New/gently used business professional or business casual clothes, shoes, accessories, and outerwear for men.
Project Beauty Share: New/gently used toiletries, personal care items, and cosmetics.
Out of the Closet: Clothing, household items, and furniture. They donate 96 cents of every dollar to the AIDS Health Foundation.
Flash Drives for Freedom: Flash drives of all kinds. They fill the drives with content to inspire North Koreans to disbelieve propaganda and find ways to smuggle them into North Korea.
Becca’s Closet: New/gently used formal dresses, bridesmaids’ dresses, dressy shoes, costume jewelry, small, dressy purses and handbags
Appalachian Wildlife Refuge: Old mascara wands, which they use to clean rescued animals’ fur.
Local Women’s Shelters
If you don’t have easy access to any charities’ donation drop-off centers, GiveBackBox offers free shipping labels for a charity near you, or you can pay for a shipping label to a specific charity as well.
This is actually where I could use some suggestions! So far, I’ve only found a recycling program at lilah b. that takes beauty items from any brand. Lush, Kiehl’s, Origins, and MAC all offer recycling, but it seems that all of those programs only take items from their own brands. I tried signing up for TerraCycle’s recycling program with Garnier, but I was put on a waitlist and never heard back. I did discover recently from some people on Instagram that L’Occitane has a recycling program with Terracycle at their stores and will take all brands. Follain also has Terracycle bins in their stores.
As for clothing, I have to confess that I used to just toss any clothing that I couldn’t donate. Recently, I’ve been sending unwearable clothing to Thredup along with items I want to sell, as they recycle any clothing they don’t resell. A quick google search just now found me this useful list by the blog Trash is for Tossers. I also found an organic undies brand, Knickey, that will recycle your intimates (undies, bras, socks, and even fabric scraps) and give you a promo code for a free pair of undies in return. The brand For Days will also take old tees and give you $4 of credit on their site for each shirt that you send in! I got $40 credit when I sent in a box of shirts a few weeks ago.
How do you declutter responsibly?