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Spring Cleaning: What to keep, consign, donate and trash/upcycle

Spring is finally in the air, and it’s the perfect time to clean out your cluttered home! However… decluttering and deciding what to keep and what to get rid of can be overwhelming, so much so that many of us skip it all together or procrastinate until unused items start smothering us.

First, don’t try and tackle your entire house in one day or even one weekend. It is easiest to start with the kids’ rooms, because they tend to outgrow items quickly. After the kids’ rooms, move to the following categories of your home: Clothing and shoes, books, housewares, furniture and lamps, linens, and jewelry, paper and photographs. (Tuck away personal items with sentimental value in a box and deal with them another time).

Here’s a guide on what to keep, consign, donate and recycle or upcycle.

What to keep:

Keep only the items that are still commonly used in your family or can be passed down and used again.

What to consign:

Portland has several consignment and resale options, so you can turn your unused items of all kinds into cash or trade up for new sizes. Any items in your home in gently-used or good working condition (and even vintage) can most likely be consigned or resold.

Where to consign: For children’s clothing, shoes, toys, books and gear check out your local children’s resale shops. Some shops do on the spot in-store trade for credit, and some will consign your items so you receive a larger percentage of the selling price. Beanstalk lets customers choose either 40% earnings as in-store credit or receive a check once the items have sold. Other neighborhood stores in Portland include Bella Stella, Hoot-n-Annie, Piccolina, Sweet Peas and Small Fry.

For women’s clothing, a few of my favorites are Buffalo Exchange, Button, Crossroads Trading Co., Here We Go Again, Modo Boutique, Savvy Plus, Sequel Apparel and What’s Upstairs. For men’s clothing, there are a handful of great options including Buffalo Exchange, Crossroads Trading Co., Threads Count and Well Suited.

For anything else, check out ReRun and Village Merchant. These two local resale shops sell everything!

What to donate:

If a consignment shop is unable to accept your items, you can consider donating them. For example, car seats and cribs generally cannot be resold in a consignment shop due to liability, but if they are not on recall or expired you can often donate them to Mother and Child, NW Children’s Outreach or Teen Insights, or post them in the free section on Craigslist. There are other great organizations to support through donations, including St. Vincent De Paul, Salvation Army, Rapheal House or even Portland Public Schools.

What to recycle and upcycle:

Broken plastic items such as toys or kitchen items generally can’t be resold or donated. Remove the batteries for proper disposal, and then bring the plastic items to one of Portland’s Metro locations for recycling. If you have left-over boxes, plastics, closures or bags, many of these items can be given to SCRAP PDX, a creative reuse store.

Spring cleaning can seem overwhelming, but by following these tips, you can make the process easier and maybe even a little fun. Clear out clutter and help the earth at the same time!

About Carmen Ripley Wilson

As a child, Carmen Ripley Wilson grew up recycling, reusing and repurposing just about everything on her family’s farm in the coastal mountains of Oregon. Prior to opening Beanstalk, Carmen was a Naturopathic family physician. Carmen’s attentiveness to health, wellness and safety has strongly influenced the foundation for Beanstalk, a children’s resale store. Located in the Northeast Fremont and Southeast Montavilla neighborhoods, Beanstalk specializes in modern and hip children’s resale clothing, shoes, toys and gear. For more information, please visit