a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: Giving Away Stuff

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Giving Away Stuff

SUMMARY: Giving it away is sometimes hard.
As a fairly active member of FreeCycle, I often OFFER to give away things that I'm trying to get rid of. Usually minor things--you'd be surprised at the interest in, say, large, sturdy, empty Almond Roca cans. Old plant pots or flats. Clothing with stains but otherwise usable. A huge lilac shrub I didn't want in the middle of my yard any more (they even dug it out for me).

But it's harder for me to give away things that I spent larger amounts of dollars on, particularly if they're almost new or in otherwise excellent condition, or rarer, or so on.

This, despite the fact that I have a beautiful oak entertainment center, like new, that I got for free on Freecycle (someone OFFERed it).
And a gorgeous, really heavy and effective wrought-iron patio umbrella stand, also for free on freecycle (I posted a WANTED--and got about a dozen offers for various types of patio umbrella stands!). I have a Lazy-Boy recliner (another OFFER) that has a broken bracket so it's not perfect, but is in really good condition and is quite comfy.

I try to remember those treasures when I'm waffling about being reluctant to post these items and instead save them for the garage sale that I'll probably never have and probably won't make financial sense anyway. (And actually taking photos and dealing with selling things on craigslist or ebay--too much time, and nothing's worth *quite* enough to make that time pay off.)

Sometimes WANTED postings come through for things that are easy to give away. Cardboard tubes from wrapping paper. Pieces of PVC pipe. Things that are already in my garage sale boxes, so what the heck. I always leave the things that people want (whether they asked for them or I've offered them) out on my front porch & they just come and take them away. I've left SO many things over the last several years; other things I've given in response to WANTED don't come to mind, but I know I've done many.

I've failed to give away the huge ancient satellite dish that needs dismantling, despite a couple of OFFERs and a couple of WANTEDs; previous owners really installed it solidly and in a complicated manner. Ah, well.

But then there are people's WANTED requests that I've got a match for that I don't really need or use but are in that second category of Things I Paid A Lot For or in the category I'll Use It Again Any Day Now.

Last year I finally broke down and gave away all my unused film to a student who WANTED some for classes. At that point, most of it was expired or about to expire, and I was coming to the conclusion that I wasn't really going to ever use it. That might have been a hundred bucks worth of film. (Sorry, Dad, I should've offered it to you first, but didn't think about it.)

And then this year I gave away my first-ever SLR camera to someone who WANTED one, the film one that I was going to use the film with. It was still a perfectly lovely camera, but I've become completely hooked on the ease of digital, and I hadn't used that camera body in 4 or 5 years. And I KNEW it wasn't worth much any more, having taken it to a used camera shop and been offered maybe $25 for it, although I paid hundreds for it only... erm, well, ok... 14 years ago. That was hard to do, even though I had given away all the film already.

Now there's my ZIP drive. I used it for backup enthusiastically for several years. I have forty 250 MB disks that I used with it. Of course, when I'm backing up 300 GB drives, that backup gets really tedious, really fast. So I haven't used it in a while, maybe a year or two. Or... erm...well, ok, someone posted yesterday that they wanted a ZIP drive for college. I looked at the dates on my backups. Latest: 2003.

So it's been sitting here, plugged into my computer, using energy and space (although it's really quite small), for 7 years without ever being used. SO despite it having originally cost me almost $300 (including firewire adaptor) and the disks collectively about $500, well, really, they're of no use to me know, they're obsolete technology and not really even supported any more, and this person needs the drive. So--

In the background, I'm running all 40 disks one at a time through the zero-out-er utility to be sure there's no private data that anyone could ever read. And then I'm givin' 'em away. If I had a Winibago, or a whole herd of Winibagos, I'd be givin' them away, too. (Or maybe I'd keep one for dog agility. But I don't, so I'm not.)

I just have to decide--what about all the storage drawers that were the perfect size for 3.5" floppies (oh, yeah, still have hundreds of those) and zip drives? Do I give away this beautiful teak roll-top storage box that won't really fit anything else neatly? Or do I throw smaller stuff into it randomly and use it like a general storage box? It was a gift, and it's really nice teak. Sigh...

Freecycle.org is the best thing in the universe since sliced dog agility.


  1. I'm still trying to figure out what to do with my cassette tape storage shelves short of clogging up the landfill.

    Is there a charity you can donate the more valuable stuff to? I give my sellable crap to the local humane society's thrift shop. The animals get some money and I get a tax deduction. The other stuff gets chucked on the lawn with a 'Free' sign. I'm enabling all the neighborhood hoarders.

    I have no problem getting rid of Stuff I don't use anymore. One of the nice things about a small house is that you can't accumulate too much in the first place and it's easy to let stuff go because it means more space which is often more valuable than the Stuff itself. I say give it all away, you'll never miss it.

  2. I'm trying to learn to be a better get-rid-of-er. I bought a huge house in part because I have a lot of stuff. Should've bought a smaller house, I guess. That has worked for a lot of people besides you.

  3. I love this blog: http://unclutterer.com/
    Lots of good decluttering/organizing tips.

  4. I've bookmarked the page and browsed it just a little. Some of it is just finding the time to do anything! In half an hour the other day, I went through a stack of stuff that's been there for weeks and cleared it all out. The problem was that that half hour doesn't always show up. Especially with packed-solid agility weekends in a row...

    I know, I know, make the time. I just blocked out all my available time for this week and I'm not even going to make 40 hours of work. That extra time just isn't always there. Maybe next week.

    ...and that's how it goes.

  5. Yeah, well, if I hadn't been laid off my cupboards would still be full of the crap I cleared out of them. But the lesson it taught me was to try to stay on top of things and I try to make sure a little bit of time goes into organizing because it saves me time in the long run if I'm not having to search for things. Plus having things neat and being rid of stuff I don't use is a lot less stressful.

  6. I'm actually pretty organized, usually know where things are. Maybe that's why I can't remember anything else! ;-)