How to get rid of unwanted items | Simple Small Space Living

Most of us have way too much stuff.  Even when you live in a small space, you still seem to accumulate things.  Most people wonder how to get rid of unwanted items in your home.  There are ways to keep the clutter at bay; one-in-one out technique; asking for experiences instead of gifts; implementing a shopping ban. But sometimes, it all just comes down to a big purge.

Once you decide you’re going to do a purge, you also need to figure out how to get rid of the unwanted items in your home.  No longer do we use the 3 R’s (reduce, re-use, recycle). But we “up-cycle” and “repurpose” and “gift” items.  Regardless of the terms we use, the message is all the same:  stop throwing unwanted items away!  Here are six simple ways to get rid of unwanted items in your home without sending them straight to the landfill. 


Upcycling has become a bit of a trendy term these days.  It’s the art of turning something unwanted into something beautiful, and ultimately better than it was before.  It’s taking lemons and making lemonade.  I’m sure you’ve seen a piece of furniture painted or re-upholstered and instantly turned from something dingy and out of style, to something fresh and trendy. 

The next time you’re wondering how to get rid of unwanted items in your home, first think, “how can I upcycle this piece into something beautiful”?

Photo Credit: Unsplash – Jarritos Mexican Sod


Similar to upcycling something to become more beautiful, why not try re-purposing something before you throw it out?  When we buy something with a specific use, most times that’s all we see it for.  But when you look further, you may find that there are multiple uses for the item that you hadn’t thought of before.  An old kitchen canister with a crack in it that isn’t food safe, can easily become a planter in the garden, or be used to hold items in the bathroom or laundry room.   If you’re ever wondering how to get rid of unwanted items in your home, first think of different ways you could use the item before you toss it in the trash.

How to get rid of unwanted items | Simple Small Space Living
How to get rid of unwanted items | Simple Small Space Living


As someone who lives in a small space, my family and friends are very aware that while I may appreciate gifts, I don’t necessarily want them.  I live in a 72 sq ft van and everything has to have multiple uses to be allowed inside – and apart from the pet fish my friend’s daughter gave me (long story, check out my Instagram account @emsvanlifefor more on #thevanfish), I am not shy to say “No way” to gifts that are not small space appropriate.

But saying that, you may be wondering how to get rid of unwanted items in your home and have someone perfect in mind for an item.  Please be sure to check with them first before gifting them an item, especially if they live in a small space.  Thoughtfulness aside, the old adage “one man’s junk is another man’s treasure” only applies if another man wants one mans junk.  Otherwise, one man’s junk just becomes another man’s junk.

How to get rid of unwanted items | Simple Small Space Living
Photo Credit: Unsplash – Rod Long


If you’re wondering how to get rid of unwanted household items, why not look at selling them?  Not only will you declutter, get organized and maximize space in your home, but you’ll also make a little cash – how good is that?!

There are so many options to sell your unwanted items these days.  You will need to clarify what you want to sell before you can decide how you are going to sell it.   Time is another factor in how you are going to sell the items.


If items are relatively new, and sought after, online will be your best bet.  Places like Marketplace and Craigslist will bring your items to a wide audience of people.  There are also item specific apps that simulate your own shop, mainly when selling clothing items. 


High end clothing or antiques, sometimes even sporting goods will all do well with a consignment style of sale.  Consignment stores will sell your goods on your behalf and take a percentage of the sales (usually anywhere from 40-50%).  Items usually take longer to sell by consignment, and many shops are very particular with season if you are trying to sell clothing.  Consignment shops typically keep your items for a term (3 -12 months) and when the term is up, they will either donate your goods or you can pick them up.

Garage Sale

Another way to get rid of unwanted household items is a good old fashion garage sale.  This will be your fastest way to make money from sales, however it also tends to be the lowest price point.


Apart from financial gifts, charities and non-profit organizations make money from selling goods.  What do they sell?  Well, your stuff.  In this case, one man’s trash really is another man’s treasure.  Most charities have a shop they sell donated items from.  Check your local charities shops for what and how much they accept.  Some are very specific with electronics or furniture requirements, while others restrict the amount they will take as they are busier stores.  Most will have a listing on their website, but if not, if you call the store, they are usually pretty darn helpful and happy to give you the run down.

Looking to donate something specific that may not suit the local charity shop?  There are plenty of NPO’s which accept items related to their cause.  Some eyewear stores will take old glasses which they donate to those in need.  Cell phones can be sent donated for those without access to phones for emergency use.  Organizations like Dress for Success accepts corporate wear to women getting back on their feet, for interviews and new jobs.  You can donate your old prom dress to a student unable to purchase one.    If you’re not going to re-use or sell your unwanted household item, look to donate it.  You may not be in a place financially to give support, but you can make a difference by donating your excess.

How to get rid of unwanted items | Simple Small Space Living
Photo Credit: Unsplash – Sigmund


What do you do when all else fails?  You can’t upcycle or repurpose your item.  You don’t have someone to gift it to.  You’re unable to sell it and it’s not something that a charity shop will take as a donation.  How do you get rid of unwanted household items without sending it to the landfill?  One final question to ask yourself is, “is this item recyclable?”  Most recycling depots will have a section on their website listing out everything that they are able to recycle, and the list may surprise you.  Most people are accustomed to the standard household recycling items, but once you do a little research, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised with how much you are able to recycle and how little you actually need to send to the landfill.

It’s all too easy to not need something and just toss it in the trash.  But trash goes to the dump.  The landfill.  Just think about the name, “Land Fill”.  A big pile of garbage.  But not all of it is garbage.  With a little thought, a bit of research and a bit of effort, you can easily take the question “How do I get rid of unwanted items at home without sending them to the landfill” and spark joy, make some money or give back to the community”.

Ready to declutter your house and get rid of unwanted items?  Make sure you read my article “The Struggles and Unexpected Benefits of Downsizing Your Home”

Be sure to download my Declutter & Downsizing Checklist to get started.

Declutter & Downsizing checklist cover
Declutter & Downsizing checklist – Simple Small Space Living blog – Compact Lifestyle Blog

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Hi!  I’m Emily.

I believe that living in a small space leaves room to live more of a life that matters to you.  To not be bogged down with space that needs cleaning and is full of possessions that aren’t meaningful to your story.  I will show you small space ideas to get you organized and make you fall in love with the cozy space you are lucky enough to call home sweet home.

I’m a former event planner turned blogger, living full time in my newly converted campervan, sharing all my favourite hacks and small space living ideas with people just like you!

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