Mercer Island Resources for Minimizing & Downsizing

March 4, 2019 | by Erin Sirianni

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We’re hearing a lot about the new Netflix show Tidying Up with Marie Kondo (author of “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up”), and if you need a little decluttering inspiration, it’s worth watching (or reading the book!). But even with Kondo’s KonMari method, it can still be stressful to tackle years of accumulated belongings. Fortunately, there are many local services and resources that can help.

We’ve compiled a list of nearby drop-off donation locations, recycle events, estates sale companies, professional organizers, and social media groups so you can donate and sell quickly and locally – freeing your space, giving your items a second chance, and maybe even getting some extra cash in your pocket.  

Drop-Off Donation and Recycling Locations

Mercer Island Thrift Shop
Donation Drop-Off Hours:  Monday – Saturday, 9 am to 4 pm
Located at 7710 SE 34th Street

The Mercer Island Thrift Shop (MITS) is a revenue-generating program of the City of Mercer Island’s Mercer Island Youth & Family Services Department (MIYFS), supporting MIYFS services including counseling, senior adult outreach, substance abuse prevention/intervention programs, juvenile court diversion services, family assistance, and JobLink.

You can drop off your donations to the Thrift Shop Monday through Saturday from 9 am to 4 pm.  If you’d like to schedule evening donation appointments, please call (206) 275-7753 (Monday through Friday, between 9:00 am and 5:00 pm). Additionally, MITS accepts clothing donations at these five convenient locations.

MITS typically accepts the following items, though reserves the right to refuse unsellable merchandise:

  • Vehicles (running or not!)
  • Clothing and Shoes
  • Household linens
  • Jewelry
  • Housewares & Collectibles
  • Books
  • Music and video media
  • Art
  • Furniture and home decor
  • Outdoor furniture (accepted May through September)
  • Home electronics
  • Sporting goods
  • Toys and games
  • Baby equipment

The Thrift Shop CANNOT accept these items:

  • Furniture which is soiled, torn or otherwise damaged.
  • Mattresses, box springs or drop-side cribs
  • Heavy or large quantities of office or school equipment, including desks
  • Large appliances, computers, console TVs, and console stereos
  • Electronics that do not work (recycling information)
  • Stationary exercise equipment
  • Building materials
  • Paint and chemicals of any kind
  • Automobile parts
  • Encyclopedias, old text books, and magazines
  • VCR tapes or cassette tapes
  • Items recalled by the Consumer Product Safety Commission
  • Large truckloads of items when over 50% of the load is not saleable in the store

Mercer Island Thrift Shop website >>


E-Cycle Washington on Mercer Island
Hours:  Tuesday – Friday, 10 am to 5 pm (closed Saturday, Sunday, and Monday)
Located at E-Recycle, 7835 SE 30th Street, Mercer Island, WA

E-Cycle Washington is a new program that provides responsible recycling of computers, monitors, and TVs in our state.  As of January 2009, electronics manufacturers in Washington will take responsibility for recycling these products. Mercer Island now has a FREE E-Cycle Washington location for recycling of computers, computer monitors, laptops, DVD players, and televisions.  

Accepted free of charge:

  • TVs (any size and shape)
  • Desktop Laptop Computers (All Peripherals and Cables)
  • Tablets (E-Readers, iPad, MS Surfaces and etc…)
  • Monitors
  • Cell Phones
  • DVD and VCR players
  • Stereo equipment

Drop off for a fee of $5 each:

  • Faxes
  • Printers
  • Copiers

If copiers are larger than the desktop copiers, the fee is $50/each.

DOES NOT ACCEPT:

  • Appliances (including microwaves)
  • Light fixtures (including bulbs and tubes)
  • Batteries
  • VHS cassette tapes

If you have any questions about what we accept, please call: (206) 230-8188.  Pickup service is available for residences and business for a fee. Please call for details.

E-Cycle Mercer Island website >>


Factoria Recycling & Transfer Station
Hours: Monday – Friday, 6:30 am – 4 pm, Saturday & Sunday, 8:30 am – 5:30 pm
This facility is closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day
Located at 13800 SE 32nd Street, Bellevue, WA 98005

While this station is not on the island, it’s fairly close by and easy to get rid of items that are otherwise difficult to dispose of, such as broken furniture. You can pull your vehicle into their large indoor facility to easily transfer items into recycling bins or the junk pile. For their recycling services, they accept the following items:

  • Air Conditioners, Heat Pumps
  • Refrigerators, Freezers
  • Construction and Demolition Debris
  • Wood
  • Fluorescent Light Bulbs or Tubes
  • Glass, Mixed Glass
  • Landscaping, Landclearing, Yard Waste
  • Aluminum Cans, Ferrous and Nonferrous Metals
  • Steel, Tin Cans
  • Mixed Paper, Office Paper, Newspaper, Cardboard
  • Books, Phone Books, Polycoated Cardboard, Shredded Paper
  • Plastic Bottles, Jugs and Tubs
  • Medical Sharps
  • Clothing, Shoes, and Fabrics

For disposing of trash, they have a minimum fee, as well as a fee per ton (see their website for more details). No toxic substances are allowed in their general recycling or trash disposal. The Factoria Station has a Household Hazardous Waste drop-off service Tuesday – Friday from 8 am – 4 pm, and Saturdays & Sundays from 9 am – 5 pm.

King County – Factoria Station website >>


Estate Sale Companies

If you’re planning to move to a new residence, such as a smaller home or a retirement community, an estate sale is the easiest way to sell your current furniture and belongings that cannot be moved into your new home. Also, if you don’t have the time or energy to declutter, an estate sale is a good choice. Estate sale professionals generally advise against decluttering, since the bigger the sale, the more money you will make.

When you work with an estate sale company, they will assess, sort, and price your items, as well as market and organize a sale. Typically, the estate sale company makes a commission from the sale proceeds. (However, appraisers, by contrast, should charge an hourly rate or a flat fee.) Before hiring an estate sale company, consider your specific needs and do your research.

Similar to real estate agents, estate sale professionals have different specialties. Some specialize in selling a high volume of items and getting as many people to a sale as possible. Others specialize in selling high-value items, collections, and antiques in smaller quantities. Most provide a free consultation, which is a great time to ask questions and make sure you find the right fit for your situation.

Local estate sale companies include:

Hannah’s Attic Estate Sales

Girlfriends Estate Sales

Foss Appraisal & Estate Sales

Flotsam & Jetsam Estate & Moving Sales

Find additional companies to host your Estate Sale >>


Professional Organizers

A professional organizer can help make your organizing and decluttering project a lot less overwhelming by serving as a set of helping hands and also to offer decision-making strategies about what to keep, toss, donate, and sell. They can also offer strategies for helping keep clutter at bay for the long-term. Additionally, some professional organizers are trained to help chronically disorganized individuals and those who have Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). 

Here are some professional organizers recommended by your neighbors:

Simplify Experts – Denise Allan

Organized by Lisa – Lisa Saksons

NextStep Transitions – Christy Urdal

You can also find a professional organizer through the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals™ (NAPO®) >>


Recycling Events & Community Sales

City of Mercer Island Recycling Collection Events
When:  Biannually – Spring (March) & Fall (November)

The City of Mercer Island sponsors two special collection events each year, the Spring Recycling Event and the Fall Recycling Event. A variety of “hard-to-recycle” items are collected at these free events, which are funded through King County grants. Please review the website to ensure you are bringing items that will be accepted at the event.

Items typically accepted (subject to change):

  • Tires (some fees apply)
  • Lead Acid Batteries
  • Alkaline Batteries
  • Household Goods & Clothing
  • Porcelain Toilets & Sinks (some fees apply)
  • Propane Tanks (some fees apply)
  • Cardboard
  • DVD players, VCRs, stereo equipment
  • Printers, copiers, fax machines, scanners, and computer peripherals such as keyboards and mice
  • Cellular phones (remove personal information)
  • Confidential Document Shredding (limit 5 file boxes)
  • Appliance / Scrap Metal (some fees apply)
  • Refrigerators and Freezers (some fees apply)
  • Styrofoam
  • Mattresses (some fees apply)
  • Clean Scrap Wood

At these events, you can also purchase plastic rain barrels at a discount. Watch for announcements on the City’s homepage, review the Spring 2019 event flyer here, and visit the City’s website for more information. Also, bring a non-perishable food donations or make a cash contribution to Mercer Island Youth & Family Services. Tax receipts available.

City of Mercer Island Recycling page >>


Free Recycling Event hosted by Windermere Real Estate / Mercer Island 
When:  Saturday, May 18th, 9 am – 2 pm
Where: Windermere Mercer Island Parking Lot, 2737 77th Ave SE, Mercer Island

Our Windermere Real Estate office on Mercer Island hosts a free annual recycling event for those “hard-to-recycle” items. We also sponsor a Confidential Data Disposal truck for free and secure shredding of old documents.

Windermere can accept the following items:

  • Most electronics, working or not, whole or in part
  • Scrap metal of any kind ferrous and non-ferrous
  • Appliances
  • Washers and dryers
  • Water heaters
  • Water coolers
  • Dishwashers
  • Small appliances, blenders, toasters, coffee makers, bread makers, kitchen wear, metal pots
  • Computers and computer Accessories
  • Flat Screen Computer monitors (no CRTs please)
  • Desktop PC Computers, Servers, Server racks
  • Laptop and Notebook Computers
  • Scanners and Copiers
  • Laser and Inkjet Printers
  • Fax Machines and All-In-One devices
  • Printer cartridges, toner cartridges
  • Computer speakers
  • Circuit Boards/Motherboards
  • Radios
  • Receivers
  • Speakers
  • CD Discs, DVD Discs, Media
  • Computer Parts
  • Desktop Computers
  • Keyboards
  • Laptops
  • Floppy Disks
  • Mixed Components
  • Modems
  • Multi Line Phones
  • Networking Hardware
  • PBX Systems
  • Phone Systems
  • PDA/Handheld Systems
  • Phone Answering Machines
  • Photo Copy Machines
  • Printer Parts
  • Printers
  • External Connectors
  • Fax Machines
  • Disk Drives
  • Dry Cell NiCad Batteries
  • Used Computer Items
  • Keyboards and mice
  • Backup UPS systems and UPS batteries
  • Cell Phone Batteries/ Laptop Batteries
  • Home Phones
  • Home Entertainment
  • Small Answering Machines
  • Stereo Equipment
  • DVD Players
  • VCR Players
  • Cellular Phones and Accessories
  • Used Paging Equipment
  • Cable TV Converter Equipment
  • CBs
  • Chargers (cell phones)
  • Radio Equipment
  • Remote Control Handsets
  • Satellite TV Equipment
  • Scanners
  • Single Line Phones
  • Typewriters
  • Two Way Radios
  • VCR (Video Cassette Recorders)
  • Voicemail Systems
  • Video Cameras
  • Walkie Talkies
  • Wires and Connectors
  • Cables
  • Medical equipment
  • Vehicles
  • Motorbikes
  • Bicycles
  • Scooters
  • Tractors
  • Metal furniture, metal file cabinets, metal desks, metal shelving, metal window frame (please no glass)
  • Lawnmowers (please no gasoline)
  • Edgers
  • Generators
  • Metal patio furniture
  • Garden tools
  • Weed eaters
  • Metal containers
  • Larger Batteries/ Car Batteries
  • Books
  • Batteries (not household alkaline batteries)
  • Drinking fountains
  • Refrigerators
  • Freezers 

Windermere CANNOT accept:

  • Wood furniture
  • CRT televisions (flat screens OK)
  • CRT monitors  (flat screens OK)
  • Chemicals
  • Paint
  • Tires
  • Lightbulbs
  • Glass
  • Gasoline
  • Oil

Save the date this event. More info to come!


Mercer Island Preschool Association’s Toy Swap
When:  Annually in November
Where:  Islander Middle School, 7447 84th Ave SE (subject to change)

Every year, the Mercer Island Preschool Association (MIPA) organizes a giant consignment sale in early November. Clean out your closets and consign or donate gently used children’s toys, clothing, books, and equipment including larger items like bikes and scooters. MIPA also accepts maternity clothing, baby clothing, toys, and items like cribs, pack n’ plays, strollers, and diaper bags. MIPA does NOT accept stuffed animals or carseats. Items can be donated or dropped off for consignment. Collections begin in late September / early October. Check their website this Fall for donation details.

MIPA’s Toy Swap event >>


Mercer Island Presbyterian Church Rummage Sale
When:  Annually in the Spring (April or May)
Where:  Mercer Island Presbyterian Church, 3605 84th Ave SE

The Mercer Island Presbyterian Church hosts an annual rummage sale and seeks donations for drop-off approximately one week before the event. The church usually seeks the following items: clothing, kitchen items, toys, books, shoes, furniture, and decorative items. It does not usually accept the following items: TVs, large appliances or office furniture, large exercise equipment, gas-powered equipment, mattresses, or basketball stands.  Proceeds from the event support MIPC ministries.

MIPC website >>


Social Media Groups

Buy Nothing Mercer Island Facebook Group (North & South)

Our local “Buy Nothing” Mercer Island group, in which community members “freecycle” items, has recently sprouted into two groups – a “north” group and a “south” group. The motto for the “Buy Nothing” movement is: Buy Nothing. Give Freely. Share Creatively. Members are invited to post anything they would like to give away, lend, or share among neighbors. No buying, selling, trades, bartering, or soliciting for cash is allowed. Typically, once an item is offered on Buy Nothing, the recipient is responsible for picking it up from the person who offered it. Buy Nothing is a helpful resource if you want to avoid making trips for donation drop-offs, or if you have a large item that you can’t transport.  Just snap a photo of the item on your phone and upload it with a description to the Buy Nothing website. It’s a quick and easy way to give away items you no longer need and support your neighbors.  Buy Nothing Mercer Island is a closed Facebook group, but you can simply request to be added in order to gain membership.

If you live on the North end of Mercer Island (north of 47th Street, including Shorewood and neighborhoods surrounding the Mercer Island High School), join the Buy Nothing Mercer Island “North” Facebook page  >> 

If you live south of 47th street in the mid-island and south end neighborhoods of Mercer Island, join the Buy Nothing Mercer Island “South” Facebook page >> 


MI Free Stuff

When the original Buy Nothing Mercer Island group announced they would be “sprouting” into two groups, not everyone was happy about it, and the new “MI Free Stuff” Facebook group was created.  This group has a “No BS” claim, meaning the obvious but also “No Baby Stuff.”  Additionally, the Facebook description for the group is the following:  “Join, don’t join. Give, don’t give. Take, don’t take. Just be happy.”

MI Free Stuff Facebook page >>


Mercer Island Buy / Sell / Trade Facebook Page

This is another Facebook page where Mercer Island residents can buy, sell, and trade their gently used items. They allow non-Mercer Island residents to join and post, but non-MI residents must agree to meet on Mercer Island. Members post their items by using the “sell” feature of the Facebook group page. When items are no longer available, they are marked as “Sold.” Currently, there are over 1,200 items available for sale on the Facebook page, including vehicles, furniture, rugs, children’s items, clothing, and more.

Buy / Sell / Trade Facebook page >>


OfferUp – Mercer Island

OfferUp is a website where you can sell items by downloading an app and uploading pictures from your phone. Create a profile and snap a picture of an item you’d like to sell. As a seller, you can message with potential buyers through the app (and vice versa if you choose to purchase items yourself). OfferUp recommends allowing the potential buyer to see the item in person before paying for it, and to always swap the item and payment in person (with a third-party witness, too, if you feel it’s necessary). Use their location feature if you wish to show where your item is located; this way, you’ll have a better chance at selling your item to someone locally without having to travel far.

OfferUp’s website >>


Did we miss your favorite resource, recycling event, estate sale company, or professional organizer?  We’d love to hear from you. Please share with us in the comments.