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Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Valuable clutter

It’s spring cleaning time, and as you’re sorting through the clutter in your basement, attic, garage, and other storage spaces, you’re likely to come across plenty of interesting (and possibly valuable) pieces of junk.

While finding a map to the lost treasure of One-Eyed Willy (sneaking in a The Goonies reference) isn’t very likely, you may be lucky enough to discover one or more items that would be valuable to someone else. But, if what looks to be trash can turn out to be worth a big sum – or nothing at all – how do you decipher between the two?


Research, Research, Research

Hit the books, pound the keys, burn the midnight oil. Take the time to research your discovery to try and narrow down what it may be worth. You don’t even have to visit the library – with the limitlessness of the online sphere, there are plenty of resources right at your fingertips. Alternatively, pay a visit to the retailers, re-sellers, shops, and businesses that stock goods like your discovered items. Compare the prices they have them listed at to see what is reasonable and to get an idea of the market value.

From consignment stores and thrift shops to online sites like Castanet, there are many places to choose from.

Find out what your item is priced at when used and when new, or what the cost is for the newest version of it. Consider the age and condition of your “junk”, which will impact its value. Also, consider whether it could be a rare or collectible find. Even if it’s unopened, it may be hard to get a price for your item, just by virtue of it already having been owned. Unless it’s a collectible (like dolls, vinyl, or silver), then having a perfectly packaged and unopened item could be to your benefit.


Seek Professional Help

Who better to ask than those in the know? Reach out to the experts who specialize in your type of goods, such as pawn brokers, museum curators, pickers, and collectors. If their life’s work or day-to-day dealings involves similar items, they may be willing to give you some advice or tips – especially if they’re on the lookout for such an item themselves!

The best way to know for sure what your “junk” is worth is to have it valued by a professional appraiser. Yes, it’s going to cost money to get a stamped, signed and approved valuation, but then you’ll have an official opinion and backup documentation to settle the matter. That can come in handy when insuring your goods, or selling them at (or close to) their actual value.

International Society of Appraisers Canada -


Emotional Value or Monetary Value?

It may not have any monetary value, but that doesn’t negate the emotional value of your “junk”. Be sure to keep those two separate, though. Just because you believe something has value, doesn’t mean other people will. Don’t expect someone to pay more for your old NSYNC CDs than what they are actually worth (unfortunately it’s not much, ’90s boy band fans). But perhaps, if it means that much to you, it doesn’t really matter what it’s worth, as it could still be priceless to you.


Should You Table It?

Once you’ve cleared all the clutter and you’ve sorted items by what you want to keep, donate, toss, and sell, what’s next? Well, you could call 1-800-GOT-JUNK? to help with numbers two and three, but if you’d rather sell your items it could be the perfect time for a yard sale. When pricing goods for your yard sale, it’s important to do so at a value that is reasonable and takes into consideration the condition, age, and rarity of the items up for sale, as well as how easy it would be to refurbish pieces like furniture if they are in a well-loved state.


Yard Sales

Offer competitive pricing – don’t price yourself out of the race, but don’t undervalue your items, either. Anything in new to gently-used condition can comfortably be marked at a higher price. If it’s an item that doesn’t have much value, but you’re keen to get rid of it, then you can greatly mark down the sale price.

Ask around to get opinions on what people would spend on your items. If your family and friends agree that your bookshelf is worth no more than $20, you should consider that price point. But be prepared to haggle and negotiate. Sometimes it pays to be flexible if it means you don’t miss out on the business of an interested shopper.


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When tenants leave junk behind

Did your tenant move out without their junk? Try these quick ‘traffic tips’ to purge the leftovers!

As a landlord or property manager, you may have lingering junk that former tenants left behind. We don’t want to knock renters, of course - most people are very responsible - but sometimes items are left behind because the tenant didn’t come up with an advance disposal plan, weren’t able to fit everything in their moving truck, or didn’t realize leaving items would inconvenience the landlord.

You’re probably strapped for time trying to get the property cleaned so you can hand over the keys to new tenants, but the left over junk is a major roadblock. Here are some ‘traffic tips’ that take into account how much time you have before you need the junk gone.



Situation: You moved the old CRT TV into your office and you’ve been using it as a table. But it’s really time to get rid of it.

With more time comes more options. Take the junk to the recycling depot or see if a local charity will pick it up. If you work with the day-to-day operations of an apartment building and there are good items that have been piling up in the storage room, help residents host a building-wide yard sale. Or, if you think you could make a few bucks for strata, put up an ad on Castanet.



Situation: The tenant is gone, but you have a few days to deal with the TV they left behind.

If you have a bit more time to deal with the junk, you can make a few calls. Will a local charity come and pick up working items? Can you take it to the recycling depot? Is there anyone else in the building who’s interested in a free TV? If the items are in good shape, you could offer them to the next tenant.



Situation #1: Your old tenant moved out this morning, and your new tenant moves in tomorrow. There’s an old couch and patio set left over.

Situation #2: You’ve evicted a problem tenant. There’s garbage and various items still in the unit. There’s no new tenant immediately lined up, but the garbage and mess may turn into a bigger problem if it’s left sitting there.

If you really need junk removed immediately, we strongly suggest (we’re biased) you hire a junk removal company. If the schedule permits, the crew may even be able to come out the same day, giving you time to focus on getting the cleaning company in and out as quickly as possible.

Weird junk at the dump

Cash, bombs, blueprints…is this a gangster movie or just the dump?

People tend to avoid landfills, and with good reason–they’re not exactly fun places to hang out. However, there are some mysterious and sometimes dangerous secrets hidden in landfills.


Mattresses stuffed with cash

Even in this day and age, people still hide money in their mattresses. Terrible investment, zero return, yet there are still people who trust their bed more than they trust banks. Sometimes, that money is forgotten and the mattress is thrown out. We’ve had this happen at 1-800-GOT-JUNK? before (and trust us, the customer is often just as surprised as we are!)–of course, if we discover any forgotten money we immediately return it to its rightful owner.



In Flagler County, Florida, someone found a live smoke bomb from the Vietnam War next to a dud grenade from World War II. We’ve seen it ourselves, too–one of our crews picked up the grenade pictured below during a junk removal appointment. Don’t worry–it was deactivated.


Rare video games

When Atari was going under in the 80s, the company decided to dump 14 truckloads of their video game library at the Alamogordo, NM landfill. They even poured concrete over the games to disguise them and it was only recently that a crew of filmmakers discovered them. Game enthusiasts worked with the New Mexico government to excavate the site to validate the contents of the landfill as part of a documentary on it. On April 26, 2014, the excavation started and quickly revealed the existence of the discarded games and some hardware, affirming the original speculation on the landfill's contents. Only a small fraction, about 1300 games, were recovered during the excavation period, with a portion given for curation and the rest auctioned to raise money for a museum to commemorate the burial.


Secret blueprints

Back in 2008, a homeless man was digging through the trash when he found confidential blueprints for the Freedom Tower in New York City. How do confidential blueprints end up in the trash?



There are numerous stories from around the world of kittens found at the dump. These furballs haven’t necessarily been dumped either, as many street cats choose to have their litters at the dump. After all, it’s a good hunting ground for rats and mice.

One of the 1-800-GOT-JUNK? crews in Vancouver found an abandoned kitten in a fridge they picked up!  A team member adopted him and called him Freon.



Not long ago, workers in Washington state found around half a gram of weapons-grade plutonium in a safe at the dump. The plutonium dated all the way back to 1946! Where’s Doc Brown from Back to the Future when you need him?


Why clutter matters

Whether you like it or not, clutter matters. Try as you might to forget about it, it’s time for a reality check. Why is it important to clear the clutter? For starters, clutter can have a negative impact on your well-being and, believe it or not, it can also affect you financially as well.

Here are our top five reasons why it’s important to clear the clutter and to live with less:


1.  Clutter can be a physical hazard

Clutter at home can lead to slips, trips and falls – and this is especially true if items are stacked high and you are unable to easily access the items you need. Clutter can also be a fire hazard to you and your family when it blocks hallways, doors, entryways, passageways or windows.


2.  Clutter costs you money

Clutter comes with a price tag! It’s simple: the more you have, the more space that’s required to store it.  Think long and hard about the amount of money you pay in ‘rent’ for your clutter: for example, if you calculate $5 for every square foot of your junk, you will most likely come up with a hefty total.  And even worse, those that run out of space are forced to rent a storage unit, spending even more money annually in ‘rent’. Talk about an expensive ‘habit’!


3.  Clutter causes emotional baggage

It’s easy to hang on to objects that tug at our heartstrings. When memories or sentimental moments are involved, it can be hard to let these items go. But hanging on to stuff you don’t need or use can be emotionally exhausting in itself when you find that it gets in the way or takes up valuable space. Remember, letting go of these memories will allow you to create new ones! Take a picture if you’d like, but then it’s time to say goodbye.


4.  Clutter decreases productivity

To put it simply: clutter will always compete for your attention. A clutter-filled home will make it difficult to focus on everyday tasks because you will feel overwhelmed, stressed and as if the walls are literally closing in on you. We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: your living space often reflects your state of mind. The more cluttered the space, the more cluttered your thoughts will be!


5.  Clutter can negatively affect your health

It should go without saying, but your clutter can easily and quickly collect dust, chemicals, bugs and even mold.  Living in a cluttered home can also create headaches, fatigue and stress because the more clutter you have, the more overwhelming the thought of removing it becomes.

Read more Reduce, Reuse, Recycle! articles


About the Author

Yoree Grozenok owns and operates 1-800-GOT-JUNK? in Kelowna, part of world's largest junk removal company. Years of operating this great business has given him wealth of knowledge and experience in recycling.

While other companies think of recycling as a 'nice thing to do', Yoree Grozenok built his business with recycling in mind from the very beginning. Not only is every effort made to recycle obvious items like scrap metal or cardboard, but the goal is set to recycle up to 80% of items picked up. They also recycle through donating items to charities or Kelowna Food Bank. All recycling efforts are tracked and publicly available for greater accountability.

Yoree Grozenok also started an annual eWaste recycling event that takes place each April in an effort to divert electronic waste going to the landfill. This drive give residents a chance to recycle their televisions, computers, and other electronic junk.

1-800-GOT-JUNK? was nominated for Green Business award through SIFE Okanagan.

Contact: [email protected]


The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet presents its columns "as is" and does not warrant the contents.

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