Getting Rid Of Large Household Items

By Ginny Frizzi

December 31, 2009 6 min read

Spring-cleaning usually means out with the old -- including appliances, televisions, furniture and other large items. It can be challenging to dispose of them in a responsible manner, but there are a number of options available.

One of the most popular is to donate to a local charity.

"Organizations like Goodwill and The Salvation Army will take many large household items, such as furniture and televisions, as long as they're still in decent condition," says Erin White with Goodwill in Fort Worth, Texas. "Often, these charities will come and pick them up. These are incredibly worthwhile charities that you can help simply by giving away something you no longer want."

Potential donors should contact local organizations to learn about what items are accepted, as well as condition requirements and whether pickup is provided. Other organizations that might pick up large items include Purple Heart Pickup Service, Vietnam Veterans of America and Big Brothers Big Sisters of America.

In addition, other local charitable organizations and local schools, churches, women's shelters and pet shelters may be in need of large items or have clients who can use them.

Some municipalities pick up large items once or twice a year. Though such collections often are scheduled for the spring and fall, it is best to check with individual municipalities for collection dates and restrictions on what can be put out for pickup.

John Z. Wetmore, producer of the syndicated "Perils for Pedestrians" television series, mentions that some communities have a "Trash or Treasure Day" once a year, which is another convenient and free way of getting rid of large items.

"People put stuff out on the curb once a year over the weekend. You can pick over stuff you might be interested in on Sunday afternoon, and then on Monday, a truck comes around for a special trash collection pickup for the leftovers," he says. Again, check with your local municipality for details.

Another variation is to put items outside by the curb the night before garbage pickup. Chances are the items will disappear before the garbage truck gets there, according to Dr. Taffy Wagner, CEO of Money Talk Matters (http://www.MoneyTalkMatters.com). Some people will even place "free" signs on the items.

Wagner also suggests sending an e-mail to friends informing them about items you no longer need. "If anyone needs what you are trying to get rid of, just make sure they know they have to pick it up," she says.

Online forums Craigslist, Kijiji and Tag Sell It enable people to post photos of items for sale. The Freecycle Network is another great online forum with local groups across the country.

"I have used -- and I recommend to my clients -- Freecycle.org," says Peggy Woodall of Simply Organized. "Giving items away for free gets them gone quickly, and the taker handles the hauling. This is especially good for items that are too good to toss but not really good enough to sell or donate. I make sure to carefully describe the issues I have with the item I am giving away. For instance, I had a lawn mower that had not been started in a couple of years and also some rusty yard tools. My offer explained their condition and what needed to be done to get them back into usable condition. I had dozens of offers within the hour, and someone came in a pickup that day. Obviously, this is not junk junk, but it's not really worth the time and trouble to sell," she says.

Those looking to get rid of wheelchairs also have an option that will help others in need, according to Amy Losak, who represents the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, which awards quality of life grants to nonprofit organizations that help people with spinal cord injuries and other causes of paralysis. One of those organizations is headed by David Heim of Marlborough, Mass., also known as the "Wheelchair Recycler." Heim, who is confined to a wheelchair because of a spinal cord injury, collects discarded power wheelchairs and recycles them for people who can't afford to buy them new.

"These chairs would be bound for the landfill in many cases, and people in need would go without if it weren't for David and his colleagues," Losak says.

Those who live in college towns shouldn't overlook students, who may be in need of large household items for their off-campus homes.

"If the item is not attractive to buyers on Craigslist, if you can wait until Aug. 30 and live near a college, students are happy to haul away almost anything that is usable to them. Most colleges have electronic bulletin boards, but even posters around campus will work," says Jodi Smith of Mannersmith Etiquette Consulting, in Marblehead, Mass.

When donating to any charity, don't forget to get a receipt for possible tax deductions.

If you are looking to make some money from your discards, Money Talk Matters' Wagner suggests renting a truck for several hours and hauling the items to a consignment shop.

For those who want to get rid of the items and choose not to donate, junk removal services -- such as 1-800-GOT-JUNK? -- can be hired to haul away the goods.

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