How to Let Go Of Your Stuff (Part 2): Your Step-by-Step Guide

So you’re ready to clear the decks, eh? You want this stuff gone before it sprouts legs and you find it curled up at the end of your bed in the middle of the night?

Here’s how you do it!

Trash It or Donate It?

Marie gives us these two options. In my experience, you can donate or recycle almost all of your stuff. Like 98%.

The added bonus of donating?

Giving away your stuff feels good. And when you feel good about where your stuff is going, it’s easier to let go.

Won't You Be My Neighbor?

You’d be surprised at the do-gooders right in your community (or a mouse click away).

When I first did this, I found a nonprofit in town that wanted everything from paper to fabric scraps to popsicle sticks. They ran a retail store supporting teachers and artists. I thought these materials were destined for the recycle bin, but people like teachers and artists need these kinds of supplies, in bulk. I never thought about it!

There are thrift stores that support animal shelters. Others fund scholarships for local high school kids. Upcycle shops, recycle shops, reuse stores. Places you didn't know existed. 

(almost) Nothing is trash! Somebody’s looking for that thing!

I Never Liked Dissection

I think most of us want to be good stewards to our planet. It’s just overwhelming. You’re already wading through piles of stuff. Now you have to dissect them further?

Not to worry! You can declutter AND be environmental about it. 

Step 1: Get A Big Bin

That’s right! I used a big laundry basket. You can use a big box or bag. I recommend using something that’s not too big, but also not too small. This is not what you’ll be carrying your stuff out in.

This is like your holding bin.

Step 2: Get Sorting

  • Do your Spark-Joy thing!

  • Put the discards into Big Bin.

  • Either move on to Step 3 when Big Bin gets overloaded (and you need a break from sorting), or just carry on until you’re done.

Step 3: Know Where To Go

Ask yourself: Where can I take the items in Big Bin?

  • Approach it from the standpoint, Nothing is trash. Somebody wants this.

  • As promised, I’m going to make it easy for you. See the list below.

  • I will also add a list of donation ideas by category in the coming weeks.

Donate! Recycle! Reuse! Oh My!

  • Earth911’s Recycling Search: Type in an item you don't know what to do with. It gives you a list of places that accept that very thing in your zip code.

  • Find a local charity. Google comes in handy here.

  • Join a Buy Nothing group or start your own. This is a great way to get to know your neighbors, plus pass along your things. I loved my group! This was one of the most fun ways I got rid of my stuff too. I’d post pics of my stuff, people would respond if they needed or wanted my things, then they’d come by and pick it up. How cool is that?!

  • Host a Naked Lady Party (also known as a clothing exchange, but you can include accessories, books, kitchen supplies, tools - anything you'd like).

  • Put it in a "Free" box outside. Leave it for a few days, then donate the rest.

  • Take it to Goodwill or Salvation Army.

  • Post an ad on Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace.

  • Have a yard sale! Or better yet, join a yard sale that’s already planned, like a neighborhood or church sale! 

Got Clothes?

Clothing has the widest acceptance rate. In addition to the above ideas, there are also organizations willing to ship your clothes to them for free:

  • If you have newer clothing, Schoola runs a retail store that gives 40% of profits to the Malala Fund, which supports girl's education in countries where girls are threatened.

  • There are also for-profit companies if you want to go that route, like ThredUp, or sell it yourself. 

My only caution with selling things is it's extra work and time. Not only do you have to advertise, but then you have to wait for a buyer. Extra time can translate into those items piling up into a Dr. Seuss tower that eventually buries you. I always wound up donating because it feels good, I know where it's going, and it's gone immediately.

Step 4: Pack It Up Like Santa Claus

Now that you’ve got your organizations in mind, it’s time to start filling up their gift bags.

  • Get some bags or boxes.

  • Write the name of the organization on the outside if you need to.

  • Put the items you know they take into their goody bag.

Step 5: Map Out Your Delivery Route

If you have several places on your list, map them out so you can estimate your trip and work it into your schedule. I find that if I know how long a trip will be, the more likely I am to schedule it and avoid those discard bags turning into semi-permanent fixtures of my home.

Step 6: Pack It Out

At a certain point, the bags or boxes must cross the threshold of your home.

If you live in the city, I urge you to pack things up right before going to your donation centers rather than leaving things in the car. A broken window, courtesy of a thief, is nobody’s friend.

Step 7: Drop It Like It’s Hot

  • Swing through your donation places like it’s Christmas morning.

  • Hand your stuff to the nice people.

  • Take a tax receipt if you'd like. Why not?

  • Pat yourself on the back.

Drive home empty-handed with a heart full of bliss and accomplishment. You did it!!!


Phew! This post was a long one. Did I miss anything? Still have questions? Send me an email or comment below.

Photo credit: Charles Deluvio on Unsplash