Time to Play: Upcycle Your Home

It is no wonder that trash picking is a hobby for some. On any given trash day, usable items such as furniture, house wares, bikes and toys line curbsides everywhere. To see them head to the dump is wasteful and disheartening. I want to rescue them all, but sadly I do not have the time nor space. I wonder to myself, if people are becoming more conscious about recycling plastics and cardboard, papers and aluminum, why not take a moment to upcycle some of the usable items in your home?

Realizing just how fast my children and family seem to outgrow the things around us, I have found that if they are no longer of use to me, there are plenty of places to donate them or many quick and easy ways to make a few dollars selling them. Here’s where to start:


Twice a year I gather all of my children’s gently used clothes and toys and sort through them. Items in gently used condition are placed on hangers, sorted by size and tagged. I price my clothes to sell. Non brand name items I usually price between $1 and $5. Brand name clothes, toys, baby items and other miscellaneous gear, I usually ask about 1/3 of the price I paid. I found that when my children were younger, I would do the sorting when they were not around so that they would not go through fits of separation from their beloved outgrown toys. Now that they are getting older, I have them help and let them keep the money from items we sell.

Yard Sales

When it comes to selling at yard sales, the sky is pretty much the limit. People buy and sell everything from soup to nuts. It is best to participate in a group sale whenever possible to maximize the crowds and ability to sell. Try recruiting neighbors, your school, church or favorite organization to participate.


Let’s face it, people everywhere love shopping online, and they love getting a good deal while doing it. Take your children’s used clothes and put them into a lot with a low starting bid – then watch the price soar. Once you get the hang of selling on eBay, the profit alone will keep you motivated (and you may even find yourself searching the house for more things to sell)!


Craigslist has become a wildly popular place to sell items locally. It is free to list your items, which makes it appealing to the seller. It is especially useful for listing larger items which would be difficult and expensive to ship. If you choose to sell via Craigslist, just be sure to exercise caution when meeting with people to exchange items or having people come to your home. Accept cash for your transactions whenever possible.


If you are looking for an item which you would rather not pay full price, chances are that someone local may be looking to get rid of that very item. Join your local Freecycle group in your area at www.freecycle.org. Freecycle is a group where people offer items that they no longer need to other persons in the network who may be able to put them to good use. The service is completely free of charge and is a great way to keep usable objects out of landfills.

Toy or Clothing Swap Party

Consider turning your next playgroup or Moms Night Out into a clothing or toy swap. Everyone receives a ticket for each item they bring and they are then able to pick the same number of items to take home. Everyone is a winner – and often you are able to get some really great items. This also works well with Halloween costumes and holiday attire.


With the Pinterest boom, people are taking creativity to new levels in many cases while recycling fun finds from home, thrift stores or the trash. Take a peek at Pinterest for some fun and creative ways to turn old objects into new pieces you can enjoy!


There are others less fortunate who would love items for their families. When you donate, many places will give you a donation slip for tax purposes if you request one. Some places that often will gladly take gently used items include Goodwill, Salvation Army, Purple Heart, American Family Services, local daycare centers and preschools, hospitals, women’s centers, children’s organizations and shelters.

As the saying goes, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. The next time you clean house and are looking to purge, stop for a moment and ask yourself if someone else could benefit from your items. Taking an extra minute or two to sort and donate or resell usable items will not only help the environment but it will also bring joy to the person who receives it. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself lost in a few memories as you sort; that is the best part of not seeing them head to the dump. Rather, they will be on their way to a better home where they can be loved – again.

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