With springtime starting up, a lot of people will begin spring cleaning. For those of us who only do major cleaning a few times a year, we’re bound to come across tons of “junk” that we don’t need but don’t know what to do with it. Don’t worry, I have you covered—I’ll show you 10 things you can do with common junk we come across when spring cleaning.
1: Recycle Electronics
Did you find an old DVD player, a drawer full of batteries, a broken laptop, or even a fax machine while spring cleaning? A lot of people make the mistake of throwing their old electronics in the trash, but not only is this wasteful, but 17 states have actually placed a ban on throwing away electronics in landfills. It’s not that they want you to keep your old computer monitor forever, but many o these gadgets contain hazardous materials that can seep into groundwater.
Instead of harming the environment with toxic chemicals, take your old gear to a local electronics recycling center. Finding a place to recycle electronics is actually pretty easy, so there’s no excuse for shoving your broken hard drives and computers into a black trash bag and throwing them out at night. Some options you have are:
- The U.S Environmental Protection Agency Site- EPA
- Best Buy
- Earth 911
- Check your local newspaper or phone book
2: Sell Things on eBay
Why not make some money with your old junk? I’ve been a seller on eBay for years (Top Rated Seller status!) and it’s a pretty good way to make money by selling things you don’t use or need. Electronics (working and broken ones), clothes, nick-knacks, old dishware, toys, and even the weird stuff you keep locked in a closet for nobody to find can all be sold on eBay.
With eBay, you can sell 50 items via free listings every month, and with their new system for calculating fees, it’s pretty easy to figure out exactly how much money you can make from each sale. Here’s a pretty handy eBay fee calculator that I use to get an idea of how much I’ll make from each sale. You may even find that you have enough junk to start up an eBay store as a side business. Here’s a video that shows exactly how the things that you would think are useless can actually make money on eBay.
Waste not, want not. For the resourceful readers out there, you may be able to salvage and repurpose some of the items you come across while cleaning. The great thing about repurposing is that it’s fun and resourceful. DIY projects are extremely popular right now, and I’m always shocked at how creative the designers on HGTV get when they upcycle old wood, furniture, or other items just laying around. Etsy is filled with items that have been repurposed.
An oldie but a goody: donating your clothes, old toys, or other items you don’t use frees up some space for you and helps someone in need. There are plenty of non-profit organizations that will not only accept your donations, but some will even come and pick them up from your house to save you a trip. Browse the Salvation Army website to find a location near you to donate.
You may also have seen donation boxes around your town. The ones where I live are usually in shopping centers, but you can find them all over. Another option you have is to donate to a local thrift store: when thrift stores resell donated items, they donate a portion of the money to charities. Some donations are even tax deductible, so be sure to get receipts for donations if you plan on claiming them on your tax return.
5: Use It
There is no law stating that you have to get rid of the old things you find when spring cleaning. We tend to associate a great spring clean-out with throwing things away, but I’ve definitely had an occasion or two where I found old things that I forgot about but could still use.
When cleaning, I suggest making a pile of the stuff that you think you might use. Just keep those items separate from everything you know you’re going to get rid of. Once you’re done cleaning, go through all of the items you set aside and keep anything you will use. The reason I recommend doing it this way is because you might find that after you’re done cleaning, you have a new use for old things. For example, you might have come across some old shelving that you were considering throwing out. After cleaning, you might need them for books, decorations, or pictures.
Only keep items that you will have an immediate need for, however. Immediate need means that you will use it within a couple weeks, otherwise you’ll end up keeping it in the closet until the next time you clean.
6: Throw it away
Anything from tip #5 that you won’t have an immediate need for can be thrown away, assuming you’re not going to do anything else with it. There are certain items that you won’t have any use for at all and don’t have any value. For instance, those old shoes that have been completely worn out. Some people think that ripped and shredded clothes and shoes can be donated, but most charitable organizations do not accept broken, ripped, and well… crappy items.
If you know that the item is completely unusable and is able to be disposed of safely, throw it away.
While few people admit it, everyone will re-gift something at some point. Why spend money buying your cousin’s, wife’s, sister’s children a gift when there’s a perfectly good bobble head in the back of your closet? Re-gifting is no longer looked down upon as much as it once was. In fact, National Re-gift Day is December 19th.
When it comes to re-gifting, try to use some discretion and follow re-gifting etiquette. Don’t give someone an old CD that is open and nobody would want, and never re-gift something to the person that originally gave you the gift. Stick to new items that haven’t been used whenever possible—nobody wants your old boxers. Some popular items that you can re-gift are:
- Baby clothes
- Old electronics
- Wine and alcohol
- Picture Frames
8: Avoid Holding On
Some of the items you come across during spring cleaning will have some sentimental value, however, it’s important not to let your feelings get in the way of getting rid of old junk. Items like a scarf that belonged to your grandma (who has since passed on) are fine to keep, but holding on to old nick-knacks that you like can really take up a lot of space.
At a certain point in time, you have to depart from the past and move forward. Keep the items that are invaluable, but start giving some serious consideration to getting rid of the junk you can do without. If you haven’t used or looked at something in months, you probably don’t need it.
9: Share it Online (Blog, Social Media)
Something fun you can do with old items is to share it via social media or on a blog. For instance, maybe you came across some vintage clothing you had from years ago or an old Atari console. Tweet about it, post a picture on your Facebook page, or pin it on Pinterest. Your friends might get a kick out of it.
If you blog, make a post about some of your odd finds, or write a post about nostalgia you got from some of the things you found in your closet.
10: Give Away
I once gave away a box of stuff that I didn’t want anymore via an internet forum. I just made a thread offering to give away a secret box to whoever had post #100 in the thread. It’s fun for the recipient to go through the items because they get the excitement of being surprised. The box I sent had a game, a battery pack for an X-Box 360 controller, and some other random items. After he received the box, he posted pics of it in the thread.
You don’t necessarily have to do the exact same thing I did, but giving away your items to people is a nice gesture. It’s similar to donating except you’re giving the stuff directly to the end user. They might pass along some of the items to someone else and start a chain of giving.
Spring cleaning doesn’t have to be a pain: use any of the tips here to add a twist to your cleaning and dealing with the junk you come across. Do you have anything cool and creative you do with your old junk?
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Techniques to tackle spring cleaning: How to Tackle Spring Cleaning, Part 1Featured photo credit: Woman holding a gift box in a gesture of giving. via Shutterstock