What to do with unwanted items: 6 tips

If you’re planning to downsize but don’t know what to do with everything that won’t fit in your new home, sorting and categorizing can help. Some items might be best given away to friends or family, some might be worth selling and others can be recycled. Mark Bayly, from Adelaide-based Downsize Advisor, helps to clarify your options.


1. Do you have family or friends that would be interested in the item?

It could be a household item that hasn’t seen much use over recent years and passing a useful item along to someone that will use it and get benefit from is the best form of recycling. Do you know someone setting up a holiday home or a shack that may have use for the item? Maybe one of your grandchildren is moving out of home for the first time? In some cases the recipient may be prepared to purchase the item from you and this could help with the financing of new furniture for your new home.

2. Does the item have value at a specialist auction house?

Certain collectables may achieve better results through a specialist auction house. A specialist auction house has expertise in a particular category of item with a dedicated and attentive network of regular customers. The types of things you can sell at a specialist auction house are rare or expensive such as artwork, antique furniture, modern furniture, jewellery, vehicles, machinery, ceramics and vintage memorabilia.

3. Would the item have value at a general auction house?

General household auction houses sell everyday household items. To do this they usually photograph and catalogue the items, list them on the internet and generate a good audience of bidders. This can be a great service but it’s important to find out exactly what the fees and charges are for both buyer and seller. It may not always be practical to send low value items to auction and you should be selective because, if the item fails to sell, there is generally an administration fee incurred to cover the cost of photography and cataloguing etc.

4. Is there potential to sell the item online?

Selling possessions yourself via eBay, Gumtree or equivalent is becoming increasingly popular and is cheaper than going to an auction house. However, it is worth remembering that this option can take time and patience. You will need to photograph each item yourself, write a description about it and create an online listing. Once you’ve posted the item to the internet you also need to be prepared for potential buyers to phone you directly with enquiries before visiting your home to inspect or purchase items directly.

5. Can you donate the item to charity?

If you cannot sell or gift an item but believe it still has value, donating it to charity can be an option. Charities do not want your rubbish though so it’s important to be discerning when making donations. Make sure that clothing is not stained and has a functioning zipper, that electrical goods work, and that goods are thoroughly cleaned. Most charities have a list of items they cannot take, such as computers, ovens, extra large furniture items, so it’s important to enquire first before being turned away.

6. Could you recycle the item?

Simply dumping unwanted goods into landfill is not sustainable and, as a society, we need to be responsible in the way we deal with waste. Computers, televisions, batteries, e-waste (anything with a battery or plug), mattresses, mobile phones, steel, white goods and lighting are all things that can be recycled by specialized recycling services. For more information, contact your local council and ask how you can dispose of your unwanted items safely and responsibly.
Mark Bayly is a principal advisor at Adelaide-based Downsize Advisor, a specialised service for those transitioning into retirement living. For further information about their services, please contact Mark on 0437 294 174.

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