Think Before You Throw – How to GO GREEN When Clearing Out an Estate

Do it for the earth and do it for your pocket! 

Donating, recycling, and selling are less expensive than a dumpster and may provide cash for your unwanted items.  They may also provide a tax deduction or help out a worthy cause.  Use your imagination when deciding where things could go, other than black trash bags!  Can someone use your items in some form or fashion?  This is the ultimate in recycling. 

Remember the following when cleaning out estates:

  • Have the neighbors in for free household chemicals, garden/yard tools, etc.
  • Create a donation network by discussing what you have to give.
  • Keep watch for charity drives in your community.  Typically, TV and newspapers will run donation requests during the holiday season.
  • Web search for places to sell or donate items.
  •,, and all offer varying amounts of compensation for electronics.
  • tells you where to find nearby recycling centers for electronics.
  • Paper, cardboard, and scrap metal are commodities that are traded.  Find a buyer in your local phone book.
  • Scrap metal and other household metals, photo frames, etc. are wanted by artists.  (If you take scrap metal to the right place, you can end up with some $$$ in your wallet.)
  • Charities are in a funding crisis; paper, books, games and toys help daycares, senior centers and after-school programs.  Give them a call; they are happy to give you a wish list.
  • Alzheimer’s facilities are always looking for clean linens, towels, etc.
  • Many religious organizations/groups set up homes for refugees, domestic abuse victims, pregnant women, disabled adults, etc.  They need many everyday items that you need to dispose.
  • Inventory the home before buying materials.  Garbage bags, boxes, and cleaning supplies are normally already in the house.
  • Worn sheets and towels, leashes and pet bowls are very much needed by local pet shelters.
  • Remember, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure!

With my prediction of millions of households being liquidated in the next few decades, the very thought of the amount of trash the U.S. will generate is mind boggling.  Do your part to help!

© 2010 Julie Hall

3 thoughts on “Think Before You Throw – How to GO GREEN When Clearing Out an Estate

  1. These are wonderful ideas Julie. Thank you so much.

    I have a question for you. What does someone do if they don’t live in the same state, with no resources and only have a couple of weeks before they are to return home?

    1. It takes some planning to find good local resources, so do it well in advance if possible. Look for an estate liquidator or auctioneer with a good reputation and research the company first hand, plus check references and your state BBB. If there are items of values, search for a personal property appraiser to assign a value so you can make sound decisions. Look for a clean-out company too if you need help clearing out the house. Where do you find these people?

      Estate Liquidators:


      It’s also a good idea to ask your attorney (if there is one involved), or if not, contact an estate planning law firm and ask them for a professional referral for a liquidator, auctioneer and/or appraiser. I would trust them over the yellow pages or Google.


      1. Wow! I did not expect a response so soon. This is great info Julie. I did get a clean out service to help with all the trash and removal of all the furniture and junk that was left behind. I will look for an appraiser tomorrow. Thanks again


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