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Getting Rid of Old Stuff in Basel

Updated: May 29

We often don’t realize how much shopping we do on a daily basis. Many of the items we purchase are consumed or used immediately, but Items like electronics, furniture, clothing, books or magazines can accumulate in our homes over time. But what do we do with this stuff when we are done with it? This article will give you some different options to dispose of these items responsibly.

In Switzerland, and particularly in the Basel region, waste disposal can be quite expensive. This is largely because the landfill method of garbage disposal is not used here. Instead, a significant portion of waste is managed through incineration. The Basel Kehrichtverwertungsanlage (KVA), Basel's recycling facility, incinerates approximately 225,000 tonnes of garbage annually. This process not only reduces waste volume but also generates heat and power for the largest district heating network in Switzerland.


However, not all items are suitable for disposal through incineration, and many items can still be useful. To manage such items responsibly, one may consider the following options:


Donations

Many durable goods, such as clothing, books, and electronics, can be donated to local charities, schools, or community centres. These items can find new life to those in need.


One charity that accepts donations is Heilsarmee (otherwise known as The Salvation Army). With locations throughout Switzerland, Heilsarrmee employs around 200 people and operates 20 Brockis (short for Brockenhaus or Brockenstube), which are thrift or second-hand shops. Heilsarmee makes an important contribution to sustainable consumption by accepting goods, clearing and reselling second-hand items. If you have only a couple items to donate, best to contact your nearest location and arrange deliver or pick up directly, but if you have a large amount of things to get rid of, Heilsarmee has a special service where they will send staff to your location to help you clear things out. The proceeds for all donations flow directly into social projects of the Heilsarmee, to which the Brockis belong.


Fleamarkets


There are several Flohmärkte (or flea markets) in the Basel area and one of the most popular is the St. Johann Flohmarkt next to the St Johann train station, held most Sundays. For a small fee (CHF1.5/sq/m) you can rent a table and sell your items while getting to know the locals. If you want to participate be sure to reserve your table ahead of time as this Flohmarkt is rather popular and tables get snatched up quickly.


The other significant one is at Markthalle, occurring on the first weekend of the month (from September to June) on Saturday night and Sunday morning. Tables are easily booked online and prices range from CHF 50-100 depending on the size of the table. The one major advantage of this market is that it is indoors and you don't have to worry about the weather. To participate please find more information here.


There are numerous other Flohmarkts in Basel that you can also participate in. To find out the cost and details for each neighbourhood, please see some other options here.


Community Garage Sales

There are many garage sales organized by the municipality or neighbourhood organizations. These events are great for selling items and finding new treasures. Municipalities often organize garage sales several times a year, providing a great opportunity for the residents to buy and sell secondhand items. These events are typically announced several months in advance, giving locals ample time to prepare. Notifications are disseminated by the Gemeinde or local neighbourhood organizations (Quartier Vereins), ensuring that the larger community is informed and can participate.


These garage sales are more than just an occasion to find bargains or declutter your home. They promote a sense of community as neighbours come together to exchange goods and socialize. You can often find a wide variety of items, from clothing and household goods to toys and books, making these sales a treasure trove for bargain hunters. Participating in a municipal garage sale is rather straightforward. Sellers usually need to display their merchandise in front of their dwellings during the dedicated time and tidy up afterwards. To find out when one is happening in your neighbourhood, contact your local Gemeinde or Quartier Verein.


Reselling Online

Platforms like Ricardo and eBay provide excellent opportunities to sell items that are still in good condition. This not only helps declutter your home but also allows others to purchase goods at a reduced price. Ricardo is primarily focused on the Swiss market. To sell on Ricardo, you need a Swiss ID and a Swiss bank account, ensuring that transactions are secure and localized. This platform is ideal for those looking to reach buyers within Switzerland, making it easier to manage shipping and communication.


On the other hand, eBay is a more international marketplace, providing access to a broader audience. With eBay, you can connect with customers from a larger region, including Switzerland (CH), Germany (D), and France (FR). This wider reach can be beneficial if you have items that may appeal beyond the regional market or if you want to increase your chances of a sale.


There are also various local social media groups on Facebook and WhatsApp where you can sell items (see below).


Upcycling, Recycling & Trash


Before you throw something away, first consider some creative new uses for old items. For instance, old furniture can be refurbished, and outdated electronics can be repurposed for new projects. If you don't have the skills to do these things yourself, you may start your search in France, since the labor costs are comparatively higher in Switzerland.


If upcycling items is not an option, you can bring them to various recycling centres run by the Gemeinde. You can find the map of recycle centres by zone in Basel provided by TiefBauAMT, the Civil Engineering Department. Before you show up to a recycling centre make sure to check with them about what can be recycled. Items like electronics often have specific disposal requirements due to hazardous materials. For more information about recycling in general, please see our article: House and Home: The Dirt on Trash & Recycling in Basel.


For items that can not be upcycled or recycled and are simply trash, you can purchase Sperrgut stickers to dispose of old broken furniture, mattress etc, for curb side pick-up. For more details and to see what can be disposed of, visit here.


We hope this article helps you to find a new home for some of your unwanted items. This list is not comprehensive and if you have some ways to get rid of things that we have not mentioned please share them in the comments.


Haluk Tekbulut

Originally from Istanbul, Haluk has lived and worked in Turkey, Canada and Finland and also studied in Turkey, USA and Finland in engineering and business. He has a genuine interest in travel and culture, which brought him to Basel at the end of 2016, as a trailing spouse. He has worked in global telecom companies for many years and later as independent consultant. He has contributed to global mobile network works and later as consultant on IT enterprise management issues. After moving to Switzerland, he has been busy settling his family and supporting his children's schoolwork. He is a volunteer at Centrepoint and has previously volunteered at ISB and SIS. He speaks English, Finnish and Turkish fluently and is learning German (B1) and French (A2).






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