How to Get Rid of Things

If you’re trying maximise your freedom by downsizing or if you just want to benefit from minimalism in general, you’ll sooner or later find yourself in a phase of “getting rid of things.”

What is the best way to get rid of things? I mentioned that this guy was wasteful in getting rid of things quickly by taking them to charity shops or the tip.

Charity shops, I’m sorry to tell you, will probably also take your things to the tip. Or leave them outside the shop in garbage bags ready to be taken to the tip. Charity shops are overburdened with donations. Only the finest junk will make it onto their shelves. Besides, charity (in the sense of large businesses posistioning themselves as middlemen) sucks. We need social reform, not charity. Their brands are sometimes toxic. I like the idea that they keep used-but-useful goods in circulation, but they’re increasingly crap at this.

So, here are the best ways to get rid of stuff, in order:

1. Don’t acquire it in the first place. This is probably too late if you’re currently purging, but it’s worth remaining vigilant to acquisition. Getting rid of stuff is only one side of the methods of minimalism; the other and arguably most important side is not buying or otherwise acquiring things to begin with. You can adopt a minimum acquisition ethic any time and future purges will be less onerous.

2. Sell it in person to non-charity-based second-hand shops (especially book and music shops). This is good for batches of things, makes money for yourself, and keeps used-but-useful things in circulation.

3. Sell it in person via Craigslist or Gumtree or similar. People will collect it from your house if you make it clear that you won’t deliver. Top tip: charging a token amount of money makes people take the transaction more seriously than if you list it for free (collectors of free junk often never turn up). Selling is generally better than giving away for free, not just because you’ll make useful beer (or escape fund) money from the exchange but also because the thing you’re getting rid of will go to someone who actually wants or needs it instead of greedily accepting something just because it’s free and sticking it uselessly in a cupboard or on a big pile of other hoarded junk.

4. Sell it online with eBay, Etsy, Vinted, Depop, etc. You’ll get the market value for whatever you’re ditching, but this isn’t as good as in-person selling because (a) it will involve a trip to the post office and (b) you’ll miss out on local economies (i.e. talking to someone who lives nearby, keeping value in local circulation instead of sending it inevitably to the largest population centres and Silicon Valley-type mediators via an app).

5. Leave it somewhere it can be taken for free: a community givebox is ideal but a dry street corner can work too. Check back to make sure it’s been taken: don’t be a posh fly-tipper.

6. Give it away for free with Freecycle, Craigslist or Gumtree but see reservations in 3 and 4 above.

7. Donate it to a charity shop in the hopes that they won’t bin it.

8. Give it to a friend. This is good and avoids the charity shop problem, but they might only take it to be kind to you (rather than really wanting or needing it) and it will still be in your personal/social ecosystem and therefore potentially retrievable or psychologically still part-owned; better to ditch it more thoroughly.

9. Smash it up and put it in the bin. Which is less effort than:

10. Take it to the tip. Ideally on foot (see my walk review in Issue 14) so as not to stink up the world with your disgusting car fumes. When junking something, remember it will be dead forever and any value that might still be extracted from it will be gone. The profit of binning something or taking something to the tip is pure ullage: the valuable absence or emptiness that will take that object’s place.

General guidance when getting rid of stuff: do it gradually, not in one big purge. You’re less likely to dispose of things productively or thoughtfully when trying to purge quickly.


Minimalism! Not written about that for a while. Feels good. There’s a guide to minimalism in Issue Three and I’m Out.


Robert Wringham is the editor of New Escapologist. He also writes books and articles. Read more at

One Response to “How to Get Rid of Things”

  1. Radhika says:

    I definitely don’t identify as a minimalist, but do identify as an anti-consumerist.

    Most of my stuff was bought used, and because I abide by not buying things and keeping a mindset of I have to keep this when I buy it (the only invisible storage in my apartment is under my bed), I have rarely sold and find it quite a bit of a headache.

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