Getting rid of stuff you don’t use may be the hardest part of decluttering or downsizing. HELEN GRANGE explores ways to donate, recycle or sell your possessions

Got stuff? If you’ve lived a few years in one place, then the answer is invariably: “Yes, lots of it.” People who’ve inherited stuff might have mountains of it, in a storeroom, in the garage, in the spare room or in the house itself.

You’re not a hoarder, it’s just that most of us accumulate things but don’t shed when we upgrade or update, so we end up with wardrobes of old clothes that don’t fit and cuphoards full of everything from old printers, phones and cellphone chargers to kitchenware that we just never use. Then there’s that old dressing table or fridge in the garage gathering dust.

In a recent survey, conducted by online classifieds portal junkmail.co.za to determine people’s buying and selling habits during an economic downturn, 100 percent of respondents said they had unused goods and appliances in their homes, with 47 percent revealing that they had at least three items not serving a purpose.

Furniture is one of Junk Mail’s most stocked categories, with over 50 000 listings, ranging from lounge, bedroom and dining room to antique furniture.

The other culprits are hiding in the kitchen and garage. Coffee machines, blenders, steamers, sandwich toasters, deep fryers and electric carving knives are popular listings, as are bicycle car-racks, fans, standing lamps, sports gear, computer components and tumble dryers. Then there’s everything from bar stools, cameras and hair irons to portable CD players.

Recycling, donating or selling is the solution but where do you start? Verve did some homework and here is your map to cleaning up the clutter:

RECYCLING

COMPUTERS, PRINTERS, TVs, APPLIANCES (electronic waste)

Desco: Desco accepts anything that uses a battery or electricity – computers, printers, fax machines, TVs, cellphones, cables, fridges, washing machines – and has drop-off points, mostly at shopping centres, countrywide.

In Johannesburg there are more than a dozen drop-off points, in Cape Town there are seven and in Durban, five. Their most convenient drop-off points are at 18 Makro stores countrywide, in the parking lot.

To find your closest one, go to ewaste-recycling.desco.co.za or phone 011 979 3017/3018.

iWaste: Again, anything that uses electricity or a battery. The items are dismantled for their parts and are either used again or, if hazardous, get correctly disposed of. Collection is free, or you can drive your load to their site, in Middle Park, Boksburg. Visit www.iwaste.co.za.

Africa e-waste: Again, anything that uses battery or electricity. They are based in Midrand but can collect for R350 if your stuff fits in a bakkie. Visit www.africaewaste.co.za.

Other e-waste and white goods recyclers: A number of recyclers can be found by visiting www.ewasa.org (Waste Association of SA). Choose one close to you.

ECOMonkey or Whole Earth: For a monthly subscription of R85, ECOMonkey comes twice a month, and Whole Earth comes weekly, to collect all your recyclables, from e-waste to plastic, tins, glass and paper. Visit www.ecomonkey.co.za or www.wholeearth.co.za.

CLOTHES

H&M: H&M, which has three stores in Joburg and one in Cape Town, allows customers to bring all their unwanted garments/textles ( any brand) to the stores to be recycled.

DONATING

Many people like the idea of giving to charities rather than recycling or selling clothes, toys, books and useful kitchen appliances. Here’s a few to choose from:

HOUSEHOLD GOODS, CLOTHES, BOOKS AND TOYS

Hospice shops: Hospice, the organisation that provides care to terminally ill patients and their families, runs shops that accept donations of clothes; toys; books and magazines; furniture and homeware. Visit hospicewits.co.za/shop for the address, or to arrange collection call 011 728 1052.

A Children’s Home: These homes provides a safe refuge for children of all races who have been found in need of care by the Children’s Court. Clothes, kitchenware and school items are sure to be welcomed.

Hidden Treasure: A ministry initiated by the Women’s Department of the Baptist Union of South Africa, runs charity shops countrywide, accepting everything from books and clothes to kitchenware, appliances, linen, crockery and sportswear. The goods are distributed to township and rural churches for poverty relief. Visit www.hiddentreasure.co.za to find a shop near you.

Other NGOs: Visit CharitySA, an organisation listing NGOs with charity shops that accept donations of everything from clothes and toys to appliances, furniture and bric-a-brac, www.charitysa.co.za.

SELLING

SHOPS

Cash Converters/Cash Crusaders: These stores will buy anything that works – appliances, computers, TVs, games, iPods, cameras, kitchenware, tools, sportswear and furniture – and pay you for it, although not much. The bigger stores will collect furniture, but you need to take pictures of it and e-mail them through for assessment by the manager. For your closest store, visit www.cashconverters.co.za or www.cashcrusaders.co.za.

ONLINE RETAILERS: 
www.gumtree.co.za; www.olx.co.za; www.ebay.com; www.bidorbuy.com; www.junkmail.co.za.

Facebook: Search “Second Hand" and you will find a page that you're looking for.