Bringing a carload of items to a donations center will always be a win-win scenario. You’ve decluttered and pared down your household items, and now these still-have-life-in-them things will help out someone in need instead of ending up in a landfill. Sometimes, though, you only have a few items that need to go. Or maybe you want it to be used by someone in your community. Or you just don’t have time or energy to bring your stuff to the donation center right now. This is when it’s both convenient and benevolent to use one of these online sites to give away your stuff.
1. Buy Nothing Group
The Buy Nothing Project is an incredible global reuse community that builds connections between neighbors. I have personally given/gifted—and been gifted—so many items within my local group. You can use the Buy Nothing App, or do it through Facebook (which is what I do). Do a search in Facebook for “Buy Nothing (your city)”. When you ask to Join, you’ll be asked for your address or neighborhood, and then you’ll be referred to the Buy Nothing group your location is associated with. They do this to make sure it’s not someone joining a bunch of Buy Nothing’s to collect free stuff to sell. If you are in a bigger city you will likely be put into a specific section of the city, such as Buy Nothing Fremont or Buy Nothing Finn Hill.
I like that you can #GIVE, but you can also #ASK—such as, “#ASK Does anyone have any decor for a pirate-themed teen’s birthday party that I can take or borrow?” True story—which is how I had a ton of fantastic decor for my teen’s party that I didn’t have to buy. Once you join and can see past posts, you’ll get the hang of how your particular Buy Nothing group works. As in all Facebook Groups, there are volunteer Admins who make sure everyone is following the rules.
In most Buy Nothing groups, you set out the item(s) outside your home to be picked up by the recipient of your choosing. They come by to get it at the agreed-upon date/time—and then it’s gone, being used elsewhere.
2. Facebook Marketplace
Facebook has a Marketplace hub where people post items they are giving away. On your desktop or your phone, it appears at the top or at the bottom with an icon that looks like a little shop. Scroll through the Filters to find “Free Stuff”. It’s fairly easy to use Marketplace, but if you want a comprehensive how-to, this guide spells it out clearly and even encourages you to use it for decluttering.
Freecycle is a grassroots and entirely nonprofit movement of people who are giving and getting stuff for free in their own Towns. It’s all about reuse and keeping good stuff out of landfills. Membership is free. And now you can also set up your own, smaller personal Friends Circle for gifting and lending of items with just your friends!
Nextdoor is a social networking platform specifically for communities and neighborhoods. It can be as wide a community as your city, or as narrowed-down to your HOA or apartment building. As with Facebook Groups, people post all kinds of things to the group (“What was that booming sound?”, “Has anyone seen my cat?”, “Here’s the company that just cleaned my roof.”) Stay on track and don’t scroll down the right side—hit the “For Sale & Free” link on the left side.
Yes, craigslist still exists! They have a “Free” category under “For Sale”. You can specify your area by clicking on one of the links at the top, to the right of “seattle”: Seattle, Eastside, Snohomish, Kitsap, etc. Just be aware that craigslist is huge and does not do much monitoring of its users or their transactions—so if you are not okay with your items being sold at a swap meet or elsewhere, then use a different platform.
The Do’s and Don’t’s of Giving Away Your Stuff
- DO give out items that are still usable.
- If it’s broken, permanently stained, missing parts, smells bad, or just not working, don’t give it to someone else.
- Basically, if it is an item that is not fit for future use, recycle or toss it.
- DO wash clothing, linens, or any other cloth items before giving.
- DON’T give used underwear.
- DON’T give away items without disclosing its true state. For example:
- “This table is still very sturdy, but there are paint stains and scratches.”
- “This coat is washed and warm, but the left pocket has a tear inside.”
- “This book has some annotations throughout, but is still very readable.”
- DO state if something is new and unused.
- “This pack of 3 men’s undershirts is brand new and still in the package.”
- “This kid’s science lab set is sealed and new, and is in giftable condition.”
- DO practice personal and home safety when giving out your address, having someone pick up large items (e.g., furniture) in your home, or meeting someone in a public place.