I’m going through a decluttering/minimalism tear, which fits in well with my slightly-less waste initiative. I’ve been clearing things out and trying to be more cognizant of how/if I acquire items. I might do another post on the decluttering–I’m really not big on shopping or “getting stuff” AND YET I have somehow accumulated so many things and I have so much trouble getting rid of them! It’s an interesting psychological experiment.
Anyway, onto 21st century thrifting…
First off: I’m aware that the least-waste option for books is the library. Or digital versions. But I prefer to buy books, let them sit on the shelf for two years, and then read them when I have the impulse. Let me have this one thing!!!
The thing that bugs me about Amazon’s used book platform is that they’ve made it really difficult for individuals to use it. I used to sell my books on there all the time but now it’s mostly just business entities. A lot of them appear to be used bookstores so I guess I don’t mind supporting them but still, harrumph!
So that led me to figure out a new way to get rid of MY used books:
Sell Back Your Book
Sellbackyourbook.com looks like a straight up scam but it turns out it’s not! You enter the ISBNs of your books and it gives you a quote. I sold a bunch of books via this service–they were books I just wanted out of the house so being able to slap a free shipping label on the box and get it out was enough for me, even if it did disappear into the ether. But it turns out it’s not a scam and I made like $20.
You won’t make much money per book, certainly less than if you tried to sell it on Amazon (if you can figure out their stupid system), but at least it’s out of the house.
Maybe it was just because of COVID but it took quite some time to get paid (via PayPal)–probably about two weeks from putting the box in the mail. Not a big deal for me but worth noting.
This app is fun because you just scan barcodes and it gives you a quote. It does books, DVDs, and “tech” which seems to mean old phones, tablets, and Kindles. This is definitely an “aggressive decluttering” app–they just give you like 47 cents per item so you have to fill up a box to make it worthwhile. There’s part of me that’s like “UH, 47 cents?! What a ripoff” but then I remind myself that I was about to give the item away for 0 cents. For some reason when there’s the possibility of making money, I suddenly get very snooty about how valuable my stuff is. 🙂
I was impressed with how quickly I got paid (via PayPal)–only a few days after I put the box in the mail. I filled up a box and also made about $20.
Basically, you’re only ever going to make $20.
Mercari is a selling app. I mean, there you go. Craiglist 2000. I sold a couple items on here that I thought I could get more than $20 for and got $80! But, you have to deal with being a seller, having people ask you to combine shipping, blah blah blah. This is why I usually just take the 47 cents and get on with my life.
The app itself is VERY PUSHY (it is indeed a selling app). I discovered that it defaults to saving every search you make and then it sends you push notifications about those searches. You can turn that off but the first couple days I was very confused/annoyed that my phone kept pinging me about Polish pottery. Good thing I didn’t search for anything more scandalous. 😛
I uninstalled the app immediately after selling my items and receiving payment (the payment, by the way, can stay in the app as a shopping credit in case you would like to use it to buy other items on Mercari. I opted to transfer it to my bank account).
Buy Nothing Project
“Slightly less waste” has a lot of overlap with decluttering and minimalism, so I’ve been wandering the internets on those topics…which is probably how I found out about the Buy Nothing Project (I can’t remember exactly). “The Buy Nothing Project is a global network of community-based groups, founded in the United States in 2013, that encourages giving of consumer goods and services in preference to conventional commerce.” (wikipedia)
Basically you give stuff away for free. People post their free stuff and you ask if you can has. It seems to me this is a “hyper-local” version of Freecycle2 (everything old is new again)–my city, which is not that big, has three different groups and you can only join the region in which you are physically located. I think the idea is to build a sense of community because these people really are your neighbors. They also have a gratitude concept where they encourage members to post thanks for the items they’ve received. Oh! And you can “wish” for items too in case somebody has what you’re looking for.
So far I’ve given away two items and nothing weird has happened. I actually like this group a lot because I like giving an item to somebody who wants and will use it, as opposed to just dumping it at Goodwill and hoping it gets somewhere. I haven’t tried to get or wish for an item yet but it seems to work out for others.
I’ve used ThredUP, an online consignment shop, before but they recently (?) started offering “Goody Boxes,” their version of Stitch Fix. I got my first Goody Box today and was pretty pleased with everything the stylist picked out. I only kept one item3 but that’s only because I’m trying to be more intentional with the clothing I have. In other words, I just got rid of a bunch of clothes that I kept from a Stitch Fix that I thought were just “OK” and–surprise!–I never ended up wearing them. So I’m trying not to do that again.
I got rid of those aforementioned clothes via ThredUP’s clean out box–they email you a label and you send ’em a box of your clothes. Right now they are taking up to 6 months to process the clothes (actually, I just checked, and as of writing they are not offering the kits due to volume! I think I got literally one of the last labels) and according to their site they only accept an average of 40% of the stuff sent to them. But I’m in no rush and just wanted the clothes out of my house. I look forward to making 47 cents in 6 months. The clothes they don’t accept are responsibly recycled so either way it works out for me.
- This listicle includes PaperBackSwap.com, which I used for a while a few years ago. Honestly, it wasn’t really worth the hassle. Popular books aren’t available because everybody wants them and less-popular books aren’t available because nobody has them.
- I also did Freecycling many years ago and the main thing I remember is that I was trying to give away a TV and the person who wanted it backed out when I told her I lived in downtown Baltimore city–she refused to drive around there. So that was annoying. But I also did successfully acquire a free blender via Freecycle. It wasn’t all bad.
- A Calvin Klein sweater that retailed for $70, sold by ThredUP for $55.99. Not a huge savings, but it looked basically new.