Decluttering your items: To sell, give away/recycle or throw?

I realized how much of stuff I have when during a recent renovation the workers had difficulty moving my stuff around in order to paint my house. During the renovation exercise, I took the opportunity to go through another round of decluttering to clear up more space in my home.

Anyone who is wishes to do a mass decluttering is faced with the dilemma. What to do with all the stuff?

There are 3 choices: To sell, to give away and to simply throw it away.

In this article, I will share based on my own experience in my own decluttering exercise. This is bearing in mind most of the items are a little hard to part with as they either are bought with hard earned money or served as wonderful reminder of my past. For example, a food processor which my mom used to make our favourite mouth watering dishes with which reminded me of the happy times.

What to do with furniture or large sized items

I start off with the most bulky items which are some furniture. Furniture seriously take up huge space in any home. I had a huge dining table, some bed frames and a long rattan chair which I need to dispose off to make space for my home.

When coming to such decision whether to sell, throw or give away, answering the questions below would help to make the decision easier?

Time factor- do you need to get rid of it ASAP?

I need to dispose my rattan chair and my huge dining table as soon as possible. I was not really interested in earning from it as I know it will not pay much. Had I wanted to earn just a small amount, I would need to put up with the items hogging the space. So first, I contacted a charity organization to come to my home to collect the items. I also included toys and other items which they took.

The charity organization took everything but they did not want the bed frames and large dining table. Next, I listed the dining table to be given away at a web app. I thought to myself if no one wanted the dining table, I would then order a lorry and dispose it as I have also other things to dispose off.

There were a number of likes and 2 persons were interested in the table. I was able to make arrangement with one person and I was glad that my dining table is going to someone who appreciates it. The table is made of solid wood and is of good quality so I hate to see it being thrown off.

We also changed our ceiling fan to a newer design. I used to have a very old ceiling fan which is about 60 years old made of solid metal (the fan itself weighed about 20kg). The antique fan never got spoilt unlike the complaints I hear from many people about their ceiling fan that often got spoilt. Items today are not made to last but what to do, as much as I wish to keep the fan, my other family members do not want it so for the sake to keep peace, I let them change it.

The electrician also commented that such old ceiling fans are made to last but nowadays no one wants them anymore. He suggested to dismantle and dispose and many scrap metal collectors would want to collect to sell.

I felt sad because I grew up with that ceiling fan sort of ‘watching over me’. Now others considered it ugly, it had to go. So I tried to figure out a new home for my fan. Would anyone want it? And I had to do it real quick because I would need the help of the workers to carry the fan for me.

Fortunately, I recalled a lady who stayed in my neighborhood who go round collecting plastic bottles and paper for recycling. I thought, well at least if the fan is to be sold for scraps, then I rather the lady have the money. I went to her house and so happened she was going out, carting her little makeshift trolley to go out to collect the recycled items.

I told her about giving her my ceiling fan- showed her a photo of the extremely old looking ceiling fan. She saw through the outer appearance and like some who appreciated good quality of older items told me that if the ceiling fan is still in working condition, it would look good again with some cleaning and a coat of fresh paint. She mentioned to me that she would install the fan in her own home instead of selling it off for scrap metal.

She also mentioned that someone he knew also expressed regret for having gotten rid of the older ceiling fans as he find the new fans he got malfunctioned every few years and cost a few hundred bucks each to change.

I was happy and immediately went back to my home (where the electricians are still working on some installations) to get their help to transport the fan to the lady’s home.

With that, I was able to find suitable homes on best effort basis for items with sentimental value and still serving a purpose. It is better than to just bundle them and throw them away.

Smaller sized items- pots, pans and kitchen items

My mom used to buy lots of pots and pans and other kitchen knick nacks. Now that she no longer cooks (due to her ailing health and dementia) and I have the challenge of keeping these items, I wanted to find good homes or to have these items going to those who really need it.

If such items are of sentimental value, find a way for it to go towards a worthy cause. Some of her pots are still usable but I doubt anyone would want to pay money to buy them. In the end, I got in touch with someone who operate a stall at a local wet market. She told me that she can help me give away the pots and pans to the poor folks- the market sweepers and cleaners who would appreciate it. I gave a few boxes of such pans to her.

At the same time, my mom also used to have steel containers that she made nien gao (gluttonous rice cakes) during CNY. These occupy a lot of space…. but is a waste to throw away because these are custom made containers specially to steam the nien gaos and those who are selling nien gao would really appreciate these items. I gave away the containers to a lady who I know are selling these items as well as 4 chiffon cake containers that hogged out a lot of space.

More expensive items- to sell or give away to a good cause

I have about 5 boxes of craft items which I have lovingly bought years ago when I was an avid crafter.  My creative energy has since moved towards blogging, creative writing, structuring navigation and making websites.

Since, I love my craft items as I spend days and hours visiting and sourcing for my items. Not many people have appreciation of such items, unlike pots and pans which are necessity items in many household.

Often people do not appreciate the items that are given to them without them asking for it. This is based on my personal experience of being on the receiving end of items that I did not appreciate nor asked for, and I got it just because people were getting rid of their stuff.

For these items, rather than just throwing away, putting in donation box to unknown people, at first I listed the items for sale. I did not sell to make profit- in fact I sold the items at a lost. If someone is willing to pay for them, at least it is something they want enough to part some cash over.

One day, I was contacted by a potential seller who asked me for a discount for my beads because it was for charity. In fact, he had wanted to use my beads as a teaching tool to help kids with autism to learn how to make bracelets and to find a way to make them able to earn a living for themselves. It was for a good cause so I was happy to part with my beads for them to have a good home.

And what’s more, it is a small world as he know a long time friend of mine. Small world. I contacted my long time friend who told me that the man is genuinely working for a good cause. So this instance, giving away my items would give me greater satisfaction compared to selling them for at most a few hundred bucks.



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