Minimizing, De-Cluttering & Downsizing Events & Resources on Mercer Island

February 28, 2023 | by Erin Sirianni

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The first signs of spring mark the start of a new season, with warm weather and budding flowers. For many, this also means it’s time for spring cleaning. For others, it’s a time to spruce up the nest with more color and vibrant decor. Often, the two go hand-in-hand. Out with the old, in with the new – as the saying goes.

As for downsizing, you might also think of it as right-sizing or even “fun-sizing” – relocating to a home that accommodates a fun and active lifestyle in retirement. Everyone approaches new life seasons, sprucing up spaces, or pruning possessions differently. Whatever your needs, there are many local services and resources that can help, starting with the city’s well-timed spring recycling event this month.

Below, you’ll also find a list of nearby community sales, recycling events, estate sale companies, social media groups, professional organizers, movers, and more – to best manage your belongings, enhance your space, or plan for your next home.

Mark Your Calendar For These Events

City of Mercer Island Recycling Collection Event

Saturday, March 25th, from 9 am to 3 pm
Mercer Island City Hall, 9611 SE 36th Street

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 or see the flyer below to ensure you are bringing items that will be accepted at the event.

The event also includes other perks, such as the opportunity to purchase rain barrels and compost bins, and is offering a new styrofoam recycling pilot program – you can bring white Styrofoam blocks (marked as #6 or EPS) or any color of packing peanuts, for free. The City is also accepting gift card or cash/credit donations for Mercer Island Youth & Family Services Food Pantry. Tax receipts are available.

Aljoya’s Living Large with Less Stuff

Thursday, March 30, 2023
10:30 AM – 11:30 PM
Aljoya Mercer Island, 2430 76th Ave SE, Mercer Island

Learn how to make your downsizing transition successful with easy steps and practical advice at this upcoming event at Aljoya Mercer Island. Join Catherine Arendt, downsizing expert and Aljoya’s At Your Service Manager, along with Nicole Nicholson, Relocation Consultant for HB Move Management, for their expert insights that will help take the stress out of de-cluttering and downsizing. Learn more and RSVP on the Era Living website.

Mercer Island Preschool Association’s Toy Swap

Plan ahead for minimizing kid stuff at the Mercer Island Preschool Association’s Toy Swap event. Every November, MIPA organizes a giant consignment sale. 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, broken or recalled toys, or car seats. Items can be donated or dropped off for consignment, and collections begin a few weeks before the sale itself.

Utilize Drop-Off Locations and Collection Services

Mercer Island Thrift Shop

7710 SE 34th Street, website

Donation drop-off hours:  Sunday-Thursday 8 am to 12 pm

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

You can drop off donations at the Thrift Shop Sunday through Thursday from 8 am to noon.  If you can’t make those hours, MITS accepts clothing and other non-breakable donations at the bin outside the shop, as well as the bins at Islander Middle School and the Mercer Island South QFC.

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

  • Art
  • Books, DVDs, and CDs
  • Clothing, shoes, and accessories
  • Collectibles
  • Working electronics
  • Hardware
  • Home decor
  • Housewares
  • Jewelry
  • Linens
  • Luggage and packs
  • Pet supplies
  • Sporting goods
  • Tools
  • Toys and games

The Thrift Shop does not accept these items, and will reject large truckloads of items when more than half the load is not saleable in the store:

  • Large appliances
  • Automobile parts
  • Baby equipment
  • Barbecues
  • Batteries and lightbulbs
  • Bikes
  • Building materials and cabinets
  • Expired car seats (more than five years old)
  • Chemicals and paint
  • Christmas trees
  • Console TVs and computers
  • Stationary exercise equipment
  • Food
  • Furniture
  • Gardening tools and pots
  • Halogen and lava lamps
  • Lawnmowers and gas-powered equipment
  • Liquids
  • Recalled items


Mercer Island’s city-wide garbage, recycling, and compost services are operated by Recology, which also offers pick-up for some larger and special items. Once a year, islanders can put out up to a cubic yard of garbage (bagged), and two non-appliance “bulky” items, which include mattresses, couches, and chairs, for collection with their usual service. For a small fee, Recology also collects large appliances such as refrigerators, freezers, and washing machines.

Recology customers can also drop off items at Recology’s stores (Issaquah, Highline, Shoreline, and Bothell) for recycling.

Recology store & recycling drop-off location in Issaquah (Gilman village)

These stores take 11 types of hard-to-recycle items, including:

  • Styrofoam
  • Clothing and textiles
  • E-waste and electronics
  • Household batteries
  • Camping-size propane canisters
  • Fluorescent tubes and bulbs
  • Bicycles (except tires)
  • Books
  • Christmas lights (fee applies)

Non-customers can also drop off items, but fees apply.


This subscription service collects hard-to-recycle items at your front door step. Pick up is every two weeks, and Ridwell brings the items to partner organizations that can make use of them.

Photo credit: Ridwell

Regular service includes the core categories of plastic (like shopping bags), light bulbs, household batteries, and clothing (including shoes), and each pick-up also collects from a featured category, such as plastic yard signs, holiday lights, corks, and warm coats. Customers can also add additional item types or amounts for a fee.

Factoria Recycling & Transfer Station

13800 SE 32nd Street, Bellevue, WA 98005

Hours: Monday – Friday, 6:30 am – 4 pm, Saturday & Sunday, 8:30 am – 5:30 pm, closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day.

While this station is not on the island, it’s just a short drive to the Factoria neighborhood in Bellevue and makes it 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 the junk piles.

Factoria Recycling & Transfer Station | Photo Credit King County

For their recycling services, they accept the following items:

  • Large appliances including air conditioners, heat pumps, refrigerators, and freezers
  • Wood construction and demolition debris, pallets
  • Fluorescent light bulbs and tubes
  • Glass, including mixed glass
  • Yard waste
  • Aluminum, steel, and tin cans
  • Ferrous and nonferrous metals
  • Mixed paper, office paper, newspaper, cardboard, books, phonebooks, and poly-coated cardboard
  • Plastic bottles, jugs, and tubs
  • Medical sharps
  • Clothing, shoes, and fabrics

For disposing of trash, they have a minimum fee of $30.25, as well as a fee per ton (see website for 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.

Make the Most of Social Media Groups

Buy Nothing Mercer Island Facebook Groups (North & South)

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.  The motto for the “Buy Nothing” movement, in which community members “freecycle” items 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, trading, 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.

Just snap a photo of the item on your phone and upload it with a description to the Buy Nothing Facebook group. It’s a quick and easy way to give away items you no longer need and support your neighbors.  Buy Nothing on Mercer Island uses closed Facebook groups, but you can simply request to be added in order to gain membership.

Mercer Island Buy / Sell / Trade Facebook Page

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.

OfferUp – Mercer Island

OfferUp Website

Sell anything you no longer need using your phone with OfferUp’s app. Create a profile and snap a picture of the item. As a seller, you can message 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; then you have a better chance to sell your item without having to travel.

Sell it All with an Estate Sale Company

When planning a move to a new residence, such as a smaller home or a retirement community, an estate sale is often the easiest way to sell any furniture or belongings that can’t or won’t be moved to the new home. For those without the time or energy to declutter, an estate sale makes a good choice, as professionals generally advise against decluttering, since the bigger the sale, the more money it brings in.

When you work with an estate sale company, they assess, sort, and price your items, as well as market and organize the sale. Typically, they earn a commission from the sale proceeds. (Appraisers, by contrast, 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 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

Caring Transitions Seattle

Find additional companies to host your Estate Sale >>

Partner with a Professional Organizer

A professional organizer can help make an organizing and decluttering project a lot less overwhelming by serving as a set of helping hands and offering decision-making strategies about what to keep, toss, donate, and sell. They may also advise on strategies for keeping clutter at bay over the long term. Some professional organizers have specific training 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

Find more professional organizers through the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals™ (NAPO®) >>

Make it Happen with Movers

Are you downsizing to make a move to a different property or smaller home? Some moving companies provide a range of specialized services and partnerships that can help you minimize, pack, move, and even unpack your belongings in your new home.

Cascade Moving and Storage
Cascade Moving and Storage partners with Segue Moving Services to provide “white glove” packing services and comprehensive or customized move management services for seniors and their families.

Hansen Bros. Moving and Storage / HB Move Management
HB Move Management is a division of Hansen Bros. Moving and Storage, and provides downsizing, floor planning, and unpacking services, while Hansen Bros. does the physical moving.

Seamless Moves
In addition to moving services, Seamless Moves provides senior relocation services, downsizing and organizing services, and estate disposition services.