Celebrating the Great Purge

by Cate on May 14, 2009

Since the beginning of the year, I have been focusing on streamlining, organizing and emptying the house of things we don’t need.  Getting rid of stuff honestly feels so liberating.  So freeing.  The criteria is strict.  If we don’t love it or need it, out it goes.  And nothing is off limits.  As I make my way through all the nooks and crannies of the house, I’m going through closets, drawers, shelves; you name it, I’m going through it.  As this is month five, and it’s not something I work on every day, I am slowly seeing progress.  Even the kids are in on the act as I stage a stuffed animal intervention.  Simply for fear that if I don’t, they will soon overtake our lives.

But what do with the unwanted and unneeded items?  I am very intent on not just throwing things away.  Oh the waste.  Instead they find new homes in a variety of ways.  As I come across more and more people that are shedding the things in their lives along with us, in an effort to really live more fully and freely without being weighed down by stuff, I thought I would share some of the ways we’ve diverted our things.

Freecycle – this e-mail based group was created in an effort to keep items out of the landfill.  In a true interpretation of “one man’s trash is another person’s treasure,” you can sign up for this free group by your location.  If you have something you want to get rid of, you send out an email and you’ll get replies from people who can use your item(s).  You choose who you want to give the item to based on your own personal criteria.  The same goes if you’re looking for something specific – you just send out a “wanted” email.  As with any forum where you’re dealing with people you don’t know, exercise caution and use common sense.  I leave the items on our front porch when I know someone is coming to pick something up, so I don’t need to interact with complete strangers or have them in my house.

Craig’s List – I’ve been selling items here with great success.  Typically if it has a value of, for example, $10 or higher, is in good to excellent condition and I think it might be worth something to someone, I list it on Craig’s List.  Again, a free service organized by location.  A great way to get rid of baby stuff!  And for this one, I typically meet people in a public parking lot as we do the exchange.

Cash for Books – I heart this site (and the next one).  It’s quite simple.  Have books you don’t need or want anymore?  Type in the ISBN number and they will tell you what they will pay for the book.  Pack them up and ship them out, using a label that you print out (they pay for shipping via the post office or Fedex).  They will email you when they receive your package and once it’s confirmed, they pay you via PayPal.  Nice, easy, painless and typically you get nice money for your books, and more than you would if you sold them at a garage sale.

Buy Back Madness – Another one of my favorites, this is a great site to sell your unwanted DVDs, CDs, games and more.  Again, pack it up and ship the items out, with them paying for the shipping.  Once they receive and verify your package, they pay via PayPal.

Gazelle – a new find of mine, this site will buy a wide variety of electronic items.  Have a printer, camcorder or camera you’d like to get rid of?  Price your item out and make your decision.  They’ll even send you a box to ship the item(s) in.

Cell for Cash – with everyone upgrading their cell phones so frequently, this is a great place to get rid of your old one.  They’ll send you a box and the packing material and pay nice money for the phone you send them.

Clothes – I have been donating outgrown clothes to local clothing donation bins and consignment stores.  A little bit of good karma and a little bit of cash.

Garage sale – I love garage sale season and can’t wait until it really gets underway.  Although it’s quite a bit of work, it’s a good and easy way to get rid of a lot in one fell swoop.

Soles 4 Soles – a terrific organization that takes your unwanted shoes and gives them to people who need them.

Nike – will take your unwanted rubber-soled shoes and reuse the rubber for children’s playgrounds.

Now paper, for me, is another story.  Oh the amounts of recipe clippings alone!  But it is all fairly well contained and a definite work in progress.  Photos and the organization of them is my next project to tackle, and something I have set aside for Nick and the babysitter to work on as a summer project.  I am determined to get all our photos into albums and properly organized by the end of the summer, even if it kills me.  And it just might.

It feels so good to look around our space and know that everything is here because we love it or need it.  It all has a definite purpose and the extra space opens us up to so much more.  “When you get rid of things you no longer need, you make room for the life you’ve always wanted,” said a recent issue of Body+Soul magazine, and I totally commit to every word of that.  That quote is tacked onto my refrigerator, right underneath a favorite Calvin & Hobbes cartoon. Their recent issue has a good article on taming clutter and some fantastic tips on reclaiming your space and making it inspiring – more details can be found here.

As I tackle clutter and get rid of unnecessary items, I fully understand what Oprah means when she says “your home should rise up to meet you.”  My home is my haven.  My kids’ haven.  Where we go when we want to be happy, be safe, forget the world.  It is us, but doesn’t define us.   And it has everything we need and not one speck more.

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{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

Betsy May 14, 2009 at 11:24 pm

Thanks so much for the info regarding places to sell etc. On the book site, do you sell mainly cookbooks?

I tried a site awhile back to sell some books and most of them they didn’t want, and those that they wanted they wanted to give me a dollar or two. I will certainly check this one out.

Thanks again……


The Sister In-Law May 15, 2009 at 7:12 am

I’ve been living this way for the last 10 years, if I don’t need or love it, it’s got to go. No clutter anywhere especially in my bedroom. It makes for restful sleeping.

Some good tips for my soon Spring/Summer cleaning.



ciaochowlinda May 15, 2009 at 8:30 am

wonderful ideas. I need to follow your example.

ciaochowlindas last blog post..Nest Egg


Cathy May 15, 2009 at 9:14 am

I really need to start doing this. We moved from an 800 sq.ft condo a year ago to a 1700 sq ft house…and I already have clutter?! Once exams are done at the end of the summer I think it’s time to start removing the stuff we don’t need.

Cathys last blog post..Season finale


Jeff May 15, 2009 at 9:15 am

Great suggestions and I learned a couple new places to get rid of my junk. Goodwill ticked me off years ago when they refused to take a perfect dresser because of a small scratch.

Another good suggestion for stuff like yard waste and kitchen scraps is start a compost bin. I have a pail that sits near my kitchen and when it is full I drag it out back and throw it in the compost bin.


Tyanne May 15, 2009 at 11:11 am

Wow!!! Thanks for all the info, especially the books site. I will try to sell some of mine and donate the rest. It would be nice to recoup some of the money I spent, of course, I will just get new books……it’s all a cycle I guess.

De-cluttering sounds awesome too, I have been trying to do this as well, but I am very slow about it.

Good luck Cate.


Michele May 15, 2009 at 11:36 am

Excellent tips! I’m especially interested in the cash4books! Awesome! Thanks!


Mrs Ergül May 15, 2009 at 11:58 am

Wow Cate! That is a lot of information you have consolidated for us!

Mrs Ergüls last blog post..Tangerine Dream


Magda May 15, 2009 at 1:21 pm

Great ideas! Just to add…there are a few websites dedicated to online trade:

barterplanet.com: Everything from legal services to power tools.
Swapstyle.com: Clothing, accessories
Swapthing.com: Home furnishings, jewelry
Swaptree.com: music, movies, books and video games
U-exchange.com: Cleaning and carpentry services, among others
Zwaggle.com: Kids’ stuff, from bibs to Barney

You can exchange things you don’t want for stuff you need!


Lexi May 15, 2009 at 3:49 pm

Hmmm, I’ve never heard of cash for books, but I’ll have to check it out. I’m a fan of bookmooch, where you can list books you want to get rid of and people “mooch” them from you, but you pay for shipping. At the same time, you can mooch from others. Lately, I’ve been using http://www.betterworldbooks.com, as they are mostly used books for a few dollars each, but the proceeds go to literacy orgs!

Lexis last blog post..Fri-YAY!


unconfidentialcook May 15, 2009 at 5:12 pm

Thanks so much for stopping by, and please do come again!

unconfidentialcooks last blog post..Chocolate Chip and Mascarpone Cupcakes (RR*, The Unconfidential Cooks’ Dinner)


elra May 15, 2009 at 5:23 pm

This is exactly what I need to do. Spring cleaning inside and outside the house. Thanks for the great tips.

elras last blog post..Chocolate Marzipan Cake. A Very Simple and Easy Recipe!


Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella May 15, 2009 at 8:41 pm

This is a great post! I know a lot of people use ebay but I dislike ebay as a seller so I don’t go there any more. Good to know there are other alternatives! :)

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigellas last blog post..Cucumber Pickles – NQN’s Mum’s recipe


Heather May 15, 2009 at 11:11 pm

spring is such a great time to clean and get life in order. glad you’re having so much success :)

Heathers last blog post..Mushy, Lumpy Things


Claire May 16, 2009 at 1:14 pm

I really need to do this, but I seem to find a reason why I should keep most things. I really do wear most of the clothing I have as I almost have two separate wardrobes….work and play! Maybe when (if, hopefully) I move I’ll do a better job on the purge! The cash for books could help me out a lot!

Claires last blog post..Healthy Cookies!


Sarah Caron May 16, 2009 at 4:46 pm

Great resources. Thanks! It’s definitely freeing to purge things … I need to get on the ball with that. Thanks for the reminder to get down to business!

Sarah Carons last blog post..Fertile Fridays: Oh My Broccoli!


lisaiscooking May 16, 2009 at 5:46 pm

Great ideas, and great sites. Thanks for the information!

lisaiscookings last blog post..Greens Tart with Goat Cheese, Currants, and Pine Nuts


katie May 17, 2009 at 2:53 pm

After having everything packed up for almost 8 months, I’m tempted to just never unpack – just get rid of it. And we got rid of tons before we moved. Thanks for the ideas, we just donated to charity but cash is better!

katies last blog post..Asparagus with Red Pepper Sauce; The return of the Bunny Slayer


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