In the US alone, nine million tons of furniture and furnishings are thrown away every year. It may be a challenge to know how to get rid of furniture, but there are actually plenty of ways to do this responsibly to minimize your waste and make the most of the earth’s resources.
How to get rid of furniture responsibly
There are much better ways to get rid of furniture than sending it to landfill, where these large, bulky pieces will take up huge amounts of space. Additionally, furniture is made of a range of resources such as wood, metal, and fabric, so it’s better to give old pieces new life instead of prompting people to exploit more resources.
Donate your old furniture
A great way to help the planet and give someone a hand at the same time is to donate your old furniture. There are plenty of people looking for affordable furniture in decent, usable condition – your trash may be someone else’s treasure!
Furthermore, by donating your old furniture to a charity shop, you’ll not only help someone in need to be able to buy it for an affordable price, but the organization can also use the funds they raise from selling your old desk and dining table to support their worthy projects.
Charity shops that accept furniture donations include:
You could also get in touch with local organizations to see if they could put your old furniture to good use, such as:
- The Furniture Bank Association of North America (FBANA)
- Vietnam Veterans of America
- Homeless shelters
- Domestic violence victim support groups
- Community centers
In many cases you don’t even have to haul your unwanted furniture to a drop off point, as the charity will arrange to pick it up. Just make sure it’s in good condition – you should only donate pieces that someone would want to use.
Get in touch with the charity and find out what you need to do to donate your old pieces, and whether they’ll pick them up for you. They may not accept mattresses or pieces with upholstery like sofas, so be sure to check this first.
Sell your old furniture online
Selling your old cabinet or sofa is not only a sustainable way of recycling furniture, you may also be able to earn a bit of cash too!
You’ll be amazed at how many options there are for selling things online these days. Of course, the price you can expect to get will depend on the kind of piece and the condition it’s in.
However, unique retro or antique pieces (in good condition) are in high demand and can fetch a very decent price.
Options for selling furniture online include:
- Facebook marketplace
- Kijiji (in Canada)
If you’re not able to sell your old furniture for cash, you may be able to swap it for something you actually need through swap groups on Facebook or Instagram. This is a great way to engage in the circular economy.
Have a garage sale
Online platforms can be great for selling your unwanted stuff, but sometimes it’s easiest to go old school and hold a garage sale. This is best if you have lower-value pieces that are unlikely to sell online and you simply want an easy way how to get rid of furniture without having to deal with shipping or pickup.
Garage sales are also fantastic if you’re moving or having a Marie Kondo-style clear out and have a lot of stuff to get rid of.
For the best results, publicize your garage sale by putting some signs up in your neighborhood and spreading the word on social media. You could even publish an ad in your local paper or online community notices.
To maximize your sales, be sure to present everything well – give dusty items a quick clean ahead of the garage sale. Use your negotiation skills to get the best price and sell sets of items together at bargain rates to shift as much as you can.
If nothing else, holding a garage sale is a great way to meet local people in your community!
Ask your municipality about pick-up services
If you can’t find anyone to buy your furniture or accept it as a donation, you can also contact your local municipality to see if they’ll take it away and dispose of it for you. This may be your only option to get rid of pieces in unusable condition, or that are too big to transport easily.
Many local sanitation authorities offer collection services of bulky waste, either by appointment or on specific dates. From there, they’ll either donate, recycle, or otherwise dispose of the pieces responsibly.
Get in touch with your local authority and see what your options are and what you need to do to arrange a pick up.
Take old furniture to a scrap dealer
Depending on the materials your furniture is made of, you may be able to recycle some components or the entire piece through a scrap dealer. These dealers are particularly interested in metals, which are generally high value.
Local scrap metal dealers can salvage metal bed frames, tables, or chairs. Many scrap yards even recycle metal components like mattress springs.
Once salvaged, scrap metal dealers typically sell these materials on to manufacturers, who then use them to make new products. This ensures that these valuable resources are reused, and helps to minimize the need for environmentally-destructive mining.
Furthermore, scrap metal is one of the few materials that facilities will actually pay you to recycle, so you may be able to earn a bit of cash while getting rid of your unwanted furniture. You can take a look at our guide to recycling metal for more on how this works – but the first step you should take is to make contact with a scrap metal dealer in your area.
Ask them if they’ll accept your old metal furniture and how much they’ll pay you for it. You can search for facilities on Earth 911’s search tool or the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries’ recyclers directory.
In most cases, you’ll need to arrange to transport the pieces to the dealer yourself, though some do offer pickup services.
Most dealers are more interested in (and therefore will pay more for) nonferrous metals, such as aluminum, brass, copper, lead, and stainless steel. As an easy test, you can hold a magnet up to your metal item – if it sticks, the metal is ferrous. If not, it’s a nonferrous metal.
Use a junk removal company
If you’re still looking for ideas on how to get rid of furniture then enlisting someone else is a good option. There are a range of companies that specialize in removing tricky and bulky items like unwanted furniture. Generally, these companies will assess each piece, recycle it, salvage it, or resell it if possible.
If none of these options are feasible, they’ll usually donate it to deserving organizations, or strip your furniture down into pieces that can be sold or recycled, and send the rest to landfill.
If you want to make sure your old items are disposed of as sustainably as possible, opt for an eco-friendly junk removal service. These companies make an effort to handle all items with care to maximize their reusability, and do everything they can to dispose of them sustainably instead of sending them to landfill.
Naturally, junk removal companies charge a fee for their service, and fees vary depending on the number of items, their size, and your location.
Repurpose old furniture
When it comes to sustainable furniture disposal, upcycling and repurposing are at the top of the list. This is a great opportunity to get creative instincts and turn your old furniture into something useful, beautiful, or both!
This could be something as simple as deep cleaning, repainting or repairing a broken or worn piece to make it as new, or you could turn it into something completely different. There’s even a growing trend for “flipping furniture”, where people buy old pieces, do them up, and sell them on for a profit.
Here’s some ideas for upcycling old pieces of furniture:
- Turn your old furniture into garden planters – check out these cool ideas.
- Repaint an old dresser to give it a fresh look: watch this video tutorial to learn how.
- Use an old book case and a desk to create a double study nook.
- Use chalk paint and wax to give old furniture a new look.
- Upcycle an old cabinet with burlap, like this one.
There are so many options, so don’t be afraid to explore your creative side and use different materials to rejuvenate your old furniture!
Take old furniture to landfill (only as a last resort)
If all of the above options don’t work for you, you can take your old furniture to a dump or landfill facility, if you absolutely must. However, you should only do this as a last resort, as our growing landfills are taking up more and more of the world’s precious space.
Additionally, you should always call ahead before taking your old furniture to landfill. Many sites are not open for public dumping, or are only open to the public on certain days.
Others will only accept certain items, including specific types of furniture.
Final thoughts on how to get rid of furniture
There are plenty of ways to get rid of your furniture without harming the environment. Aside from selling or donating your unwanted pieces, you can also repurpose or upcycle them, sell them for scrap metal, or hire an eco-friendly junk removal company.