Spring Cleaning Tips: Recycling and Donating Unwanted Items

If you're looking to unload junk that has collected in your home, the trash can shouldn't be your first option. Here's a helpful list of places that may want your unused items

Credit: Flickr / Andrei.D40

Keep used book stores and libraries in mind if you find yourself with a stack of unwanted books when you’re spring cleaning

It’s time for spring cleaning, but don’t throw all of your unwanted items in the trash: one man’s junk is another man’s treasure

We typically end up with four piles of stuff at the end of our spring cleaning efforts: stuff for the garbage bin, things for recycling, items to sell or give away, and a mystery pile of things that seem too useful for garbage.

It’s easy to lose steam and just stash the sell/give away stuff and the mystery pile in the back of a storage locker. But stick with it and use this handy guide to find a home for everything.

Separate Your Junk

The first step is to separate things into piles: things you can sell; things you can give to friends; things to donate; and things that need to be recycled.

Selling it Off

For items that are worth more than $25, try Craigslist first. We have pretty good luck online and have been able to sell a bike trailer, camera equipment, boat stuff and more.

Another great option for sports gear is Mountain Equipment Co-ops online gear swap. If you want things out of the house asap, consider a consignment shop: our current favourites in Vancouver include Sports Junkies, Cheapskates, Popeyes and Wee Ones Reruns (call for an appointment though).

Consignment stores take a portion of the profits (35-60%), so we find it works best to bring in a number of items.

Other options include community centre sales and neighbourhood garage sales.

Give Stuff to Friends and Strangers

We have one friend who lists things he wants to get rid of on Facebook; we’re more the surprise ambush types. A dinner invite will likely net our friends a stack of stuff we think they’d like. Another option is organizing a clothing exchange where you get rid of unwanted clothes and save yourself the expense and effort of shopping for a new wardrobe. And don’t forget to freecycle!

Donate to Charity

I love all the new donation bins that are found around town that belong to groups like Develop BC, Big Brothers and the BC Children’s Hospital. They are an easy way to donate books and clothes, but be sure to check what each box accepts. If you want to target your donations a little more specifically, or find an association that will do pick-ups, try this handy list.


I never thought it would be possible, but as I’ve grown to love my eReader I’ve been OK parting with some well-loved books. If you want to sell your books try this list of shops that buy used books. Another great option is to donate to the library (they also take CDs and DVDs).

Recycle What’s Left

Our final pile is typically made up of stuff we don’t want to toss, but couldn’t go out with our normal recycling bin: old computers, depleted batteries and other assorted oddities. A quick check through Metro Vancouver’s Recycling list or with the Recycling Council of British Columbia should help you find a place for everything else.

If you still haven’t found a home for your junk, checkout Greater Vancouver’s 101 things to do with your old stuff guide.

So what are your spring-cleaning methods? Where do you sell things? Do you donate?