But What If You Already Have Too Much Stuff? Part 2

Last time I talked about how I got just the tiniest bit obsessed with getting rid of all the stuff I’d accumulated. Here are some concrete suggestions for ways you can 1) clear out the stuff you’re not using and 2) make someone else really happy. It’s more fun than you might imagine!

~~schools, churches, day care centers, senior centers, centers for battered women and their children, Girl Scouts: if you’ve got multiples of things, like maybe two dozen boxes of crayons that you used once for teaching a workshop, or reams of paper you don’t use or decorative scissors you kind of got tired of, check with places like these to see if they might need them. Don’t just show up with a box of stuff that might not be appropriate; ask first. Most places are thrilled to have more art supplies. Also books.

~~artists just starting out: whether it’s someone young or someone who’s exploring different media or someone on a tight budget, there’s bound to be someone you know who would love the things you no longer want to hoard. Yeah, I used the “h” word. I gave away literal truckloads of paper and rubber stamps and miscellaneous art supplies when I realized I wasn’t ever going to use them again.

~~Goodwill, the Salvation Army: I’ve taken tons of clothes to these. Of course, I’ve also taken home tons of clothes *from* these. It’s kind of a revolving door for me, but I’m sure it will be more efficient for you!

~~Etsy: if you’ve got bins of fabulous fabric scraps or miles of hand-dyed lace or ribbon or stacks of hand-marbled paper, you can make up little packets and set up an Etsy shop. Think creative packaging and a great marketing blurb.

~~eBay: if you’ve got wonderful vintage stuff you’ve collected forever and now realize you probably won’t use, and if you think it might be valuable, at least to someone who’s where you were ten years ago, try listing it in an auction.

~~Blog giveaways: this was the biggest help ever in really cutting down my collection of rubber stamps, along with a bunch of other Stuff. Because I wrote for years for Rubberstampmadness, I had quite a lot of stamps. Thousands of stamps. Many of them were from sheets of custom rubber or companies that had gone out of business long ago. Only other rubber stamp fanatics would have any idea of how cool they were. Many of them were gifts that I’d never used. I made up boxes–many, many boxes–and offered them as give-aways on my blog. It was great knowing they went to people who appreciated them, and people love to get something for free. A note of caution, though: giving things away on your blog means you’re going to have to ship things, and that means you’re going to have to pay postage unless you ask the winner to pay, which isn’t always doable. I spent almost $2000 in postage the year I really got rid of a lot of stuff, so keep that in mind. It was worth it to me then, but I wouldn’t ever do it again.

~~Craigslist: I’ve never used this, but many people swear by it as the best way to find homes for stuff you no longer use or want.

~~leaving books where people can find them: I made up a bunch of slips that say “Take it. Read it. Pass it on.” I tape one to the cover of books and magazines after I’m done with them and leave them on a table at Starbucks. It’s right off the interstate, and I like to imagine someone picks one up and takes it with them to read in their hotel room that night. Imagining that makes me happy. I’ve got a stack in there right now to drop off later.

~~A Garage Give-Away (like a mini garage sale, but with no money involved): I wrote about this on my blog back then, and it’s still one of my favorite ways to get rid of things. I set stuff out on the sidewalk and put a sign on it: “FREE!” and left it there. People would come and knock on the door and ask, “How much do you want for that?” And I’d tell them, “It’s free! Take it! It’s yours!” And they’d go, “Really? It’s free?” And I’d go, “Yes! It’s free! Take it!” After I finally convinced them that, yes, it was really free, and it really was mine to give away and they really could take it with them, their faces would light up as if Santa Claus had just showed up. It was the best. I got rid of a washer and dryer that way, and watching people’s excitement was just so cool. (Once I had something out there with a $5 price tag on it, and a guy said he didn’t have the cash, and I said, “Oh, go ahead and take it.” He said he’d bring the money by later, and I thought, “Yeah, yeah, yeah. Sure you will.” But I didn’t care: he was helping me get rid of Stuff. I got back home that night, and stuck inside the storm door were three wrinkled dollar bills and $2 worth of change. Try it; it makes everyone feel good.)

I’m sure y’all have other excellent ideas of your own for getting rid of the stuff that’s cluttering up your studio and your life. We’d love to hear them–post a comment and tell us your favorites!


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5 Responses to But What If You Already Have Too Much Stuff? Part 2

  1. Caatje says:

    For those who want to know what happens to the books they leave somewhere in the wild, there’s bookcrossing.com . Of course you don’t want to use this site if you don’t want anymore hassle than just leaving stuff for somebody else to find, but it can be nice to see how somebody found your left books and passes them on.

    • Rice Freeman-Zachery says:

      Thanks for that link, Caatje. I’ve heard of bookcrossings, and lots of people love it. I like the exercise in letting go that I get from just putting them out there, but it *would* be fun to see exactly where they go. Imagine the possibilities! I like to think books never die but just keep on traveling forever.

  2. swallowcliffs says:

    People can check out the freecycle website for their area and advertise their stuff there too. Just google the “name of your town” freecycle and you should be able to find it.

  3. ladyinblack1964 says:

    The Salvation Army has been my salvation at times.

    Also, re: giving away. When I worked at a newspaper, and we were moving house, I took a bunch of stuff (books, freebie toothbrushes from dental appointments, etc.) to work and put a note on the office bulletin board that said, “Free Stuff at Sandra’s Desk! That’s right, free!” The stuff was gone within an hour.

    Our public library always has a “Friends” sale each summer, and they are always accepting donations. Of course, when I attend the sale, I end up with as many books as I had donated. Last year we came home with four boxes of LPs. Oy vey!