News From Terre Haute, Indiana

March 10, 2013

YOUR GREEN VALLEY: Others may find your trash to be their treasure

Jane Santucci
Special to the Tribune-Star

---- — There is a lot to be said about buying gently-used items in place of new ones. The biggest motivating factor is usually money. Another good reason is because a lot of energy and resources have already gone into making something and there is no reason why we should not do our best to prolong its life.

Moving Out

Moving anywhere from down the road to across the country is a pain. It disrupts our normal routine and requires planning. Planning is one of the key elements I think a lot of people don’t take into account and look at a Dumpster as a quick fix for unloading their unwanted goods. On a bi-monthly basis, I see very nice furniture in the community Dumpster. I have even gone to the extent of removing a wooden rocking chair, because it reminded me of one I had growing up. I love the rocking chair, which makes me think of the countless other items other people could have enjoyed if others would just take the time to donate these items to the charity of their choice.

This last time I moved, I was like a seasoned pro. After all, I moved multiple times during my college years. I got boxes from my local supermarket, instead of purchasing new ones. I took a long, hard look at what I owned and thought, “Do I really use/need this.” All of my furniture has basically been hand-me-downs from friends, of which I have grown out of.

I fit what I could in my compact car and hauled it to Goodwill. The larger items I took with me in the moving truck. For those that do not have the option of renting a moving truck to donate their unwanted goods, they can schedule a pick-up from Goodwill, if they live within the city limits of Terre Haute.

“We generally would run to someone’s home for couches, tables and chairs. Things that are not easily deliverable to Goodwill,” said Bill Tennis, executive director of Goodwill Industries of the Wabash Valley. “We want things you would give to your friends or family members. We don’t want trash. Goodwill employs people with many different barriers to employment and we are able to fund that program primarily through our donated goods operation.”

To schedule a pick-up call 812-235-1827. Other local charities may offer similar services. Call the charity of your choice for options.

Furthermore, I never realized how many clothes I had until I had to take them out of the closets. The simple rule of thumb is, if you haven’t worn it in a year, it is time to donate it. I still have a few items I have held onto with the thought; one day I will be a size 2 again. This time around, I filled four drum-size garbage bags full of clothes, even the clothes I hoped to fit in again. I gave some of my finest clothes to my close friends and hauled the rest to Goodwill.

If you feel like you deserve money for an expensive piece of furniture you own, but don’t have the time to post fliers to sell it, you can call a local auction house.

“You can either haul it to the local auction gallery/house and ask them how much to sell it and what their commission is. Or you can have them pick it up, but they will charge you more commission for that service,” auctioneer Johnny Swalls said.

Moving In

I remember the first time I rented an unfurnished condo. It was a challenge to find affordable furniture. If only back then I would have known about auctions, I could have scored some high quality secondhand pieces.

Auctions can have everything from bakeware to laundry machines. Most recently, I went to an auction where high-quality kitchen supplies were being sold for $1. Now, if only I needed four muffin tins and two massive stacks of Longaberger baskets, I would have been in luck. For those looking to fill their home with gently used goods, check out your local newspaper or phone book and search for an auction company. Call them up and ask them what they have for sale, to see if it is in line with what you are looking for.

“Estate auctions or when somebody passes away, they have everything. They have a whole house full of stuff, so you can get anything and everything you want,” Swalls said.

Use these tools for surviving your first auction:

1. If you want a leather couch that would retail for $1,200 and you are willing to spend $500, start your first bid at $400. Swalls says if you start off high, you will scare most bidders away. Plus, usually the auctioneer will say “sold” right away and move on to the next item.

2. Never act too interested in an item.

3. Don’t sit on your hands until the very last minute. Let the auctioneer know where you are, so when you place a bid at the last minute they know where to look.

4. Call ahead and find out at what time an item you are interested in buying will sell. This will save you from waiting around all day for what you want.  

Before you make your next move, be sure to allow extra time to properly dispose of your unwanted goods. Remember, your trash could be someone else’s treasure.

Jane Santucci is an environmental freelance writer for the Tribune-Star. Santucci is a volunteer with TREES Inc. and Our Green Valley. She also sits on the Wabash Valley Goodwill Industries Board of Directors. Share your environmental stories and tips with her at