How to (not) give away your stuff

Buy Nothing Groups, OfferUp, and I how I would manage my move next time.

written by oz chen

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how to give stuff away (or not)

I recently moved from a large apartment to a small ADU. So I had to give away a lot of items.

I started by thinking of items to gift to my local Buy Nothing group. These are self-organized, local communities that facilitate free giveaways amongst members, hence “Buy Nothing.” I enjoyed my experience…this way of giving had a personal touch. You’d list and people would comment with things like “I have a new baby on the way and we could really use that!” Sometimes they’ll even follow up with a gratitude post:

You can find these on Facebook by typing in your “neighborhood/city” + “buy nothing.”

For stuff I wanted to sell, I tried OfferUp. This was my first time using the app. After a lot of dead end conversations, I only sold my massage table. One student interested in my chair exchanged 20 messages with me until realizing the chair doesn’t fit in his car…which I told him to check in the beginning. I was happy to cancel the premium trial.

Unwarranted advice #2: did you know that when you sign up for a free software trial, most of the time you can cancel the renewal subscription IMMEDIATELY and still use the premium services of your trial until expiration? This prevents you from forgetting to cancel later on.

Halfway through this journey, I realized how inefficient I was in giving away stuff. I gave away items piecemeal via the Buy Nothing Group before realizing I could’ve put on a “Curb alert” and have people pick up things en masse, without having to schedule with people individually to pick up items.

Towards the end of my move, I gave up on my remaining items and brought them all to Goodwill.

Here’s how I got rid of stuff, in order of efficiency and amount of stuff given away

  • Goodwill donation centers (dozens and dozens of items)
  • Put stuff on the curb with a “FREE” sign.
    • I was literally setting a TV down on the curb when a guy drove and asked if I was giving it away. I said yes, take it, it works great. Quickest giveaway ever.
  • Buy Nothing Group (~8 items)
  • Trash / recycling (sorry Mother Earth)
  • Selling on OfferUp (1 ITEM)
  • Selling on Facebook (ZERO) 

If I were give away stuff again, I would reduce the amount of 1:1 scheduling and try to do everything in bulk. To optimize even further, I’d organize the stuff I want to give away using the following categories:

  • Nicer, personal items I don’t want to sell: schedule a bulk giveaway / curb alert on a Buy Nothing Group.
  • Items I want to sell: make sure I have room to keep them if I’m not able to sell them on time.
  • For everything else, bulk donate to a donation center. But cross list this to a Buy Nothing Group in case anyone wants to pick up everything.

That’s my story of how I gave away stuff in a pretty suboptimal way—but I hope this gives you ideas for your next move.

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1 thought on “How to (not) give away your stuff”

  1. I’ve had good luck with both Craig’s List and Facebook Marketplace – especially for stuff I’m willing to give away for free. On my last move, a charity contacted me via my CL listing and took a bunch of furniture from my storage space. Later, I used a combination of bulk and single item give aways to purge the remaining excess from my apartment.

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