Spring is prime garage sale season. Across the country, cabin-fever addled declutterers are digging into closets and preparing to rid themselves of old clothing, unused picture frames, books read and ready to be passed on to new owners, and that dusty fitness equipment lurking in the corner of the basement. Why not try an eco-friendly garage sale this season?
Garage sales are a great green initiative on their own — both hosting them and shopping at them — because it allows you to pass on gently used items to someone who needs them. The seller gets a little more shelf space, the buyer gets a new item for the price of a coffee. Win-win!
But, even with this environmental head-start, there are a few ways you can make your garage sale even greener.
5 Tips for Hosting an Eco-Friendly Garage Sale
1. Gather Supplies
Having a great eco-friendly garage sale means being prepared. With a few slight tweaks, you can shift your preparations in a more eco-friendly direction.
First, instead of buying poster boards to make garage sale signs, try to repurpose old posters or cardboard boxes to make into signs instead. They’re just as flashy as poster boards without having to buy brand-new paper you’ll just recycle in a few hours’ time.
Use masking tape instead of packing tape to hang the posters around your neighborhood and use it for price tag stickers as well. Masking tape has the added benefit of being compostable so it’s a great green choice.
Sidewalk chalk is a fantastic way to direct people to your sale with virtually zero waste. Or you can use the chalk on your driveway or sidewalk to mark $1 tables at your sale.
2. Advertise Online
Posters are great but their only audience is the people who happen to be driving by them in the hours before your garage sale begins. Using online sites like Craigslist or Kijiji to list your garage sale means you’ll be added to the weekend routes of serious garage salers. Check local Facebook buy and sell groups to see if they allow garage sale listings and make use of your social networks, too. Twitter, Instagram, Facebook — these are all great ways to publicize your sale!
Online forums offer fantastic exposure to hundreds, sometimes thousands, of bargain hunters with virtually no environmental impact.
One caveat: If you do advertise online, just make sure you know who can see and access your posts, especially since you’ll be listing your home address.
3. Join Forces
If you have a garage sale this weekend and your next-door neighbor has one in two weeks and the lady down the block has one in a month’s time, that’s a lot of driving back and forth into your neighborhood for interested buyers.
Consider joining forces with your neighbors to hold a joint garage sale with two, three, or even a whole block’s worth of participants! Having a joint garage sale means being able to share resources like signs and advertising, and becoming a one-stop shop for garage sale buyers rather than having them drive all over the city.
Having a multi-family garage sale also means you’ll attract loads more people because each seller will be tying in their social networks too! Just make sure you don’t end up buying more than you sell.
4. Make Deals
Although garage sales can be a great way to earn some extra cash, don’t be too devoted to haggling over a few dollars. Keep in mind that the reason you’re holding the sale in the first place is to clear out space for you and pass on your belongings to someone who will actually make use of them.
If you’re tempted to refuse a reasonable offer or if you start second-guessing whether you’re letting an item go for too little, ask yourself if it’s worth storing the item for another year. That $10 price difference might not seem so much of a problem anymore when you consider the space the item frees up in your life.
5. Dispose of Unsold Items Properly
Garage sales take a lot of work. But make sure that when yours is over you’ve saved a little energy to dispose of any unsold items in a responsible way.
This means taking clothes and textiles to a clothing donation bin, books and household items to a secondhand store, and old electronics to an e-recycling drop-off location. Remember to take down and recycle your signs, and then bask in your newly decluttered home!
Madeleine Somerville is a writer, author, and blogger. Her first book All You Need Is Less was published in April 2014. Her writing has appeared in both print and online outlets, including The Guardian, Earth911, Yahoo!Shine, TreeHugger, and Alternet. She lives in Calgary, Canada with her four-year-old daughter and writes at SweetMadeleine.ca.
What are your tips for holding an eco-friendly garage sale? Share your experience with our readers below or on Facebook and Twitter.