Recycling Paint

Many deceased estates have large amounts of old paint in back sheds and garages that need to be safely removed. Like yourself, We Empty Houses is committed to doing as much as we can to reduce damage to the environment, so Paintback is our new best friend! Since 2016, Paintback has taken unwanted paint and packaging and responsibly disposes of it, diverting it from landfill and vital waterways.

How it works:

We Empty Houses takes your unwanted paint and packaging to one of the 12 local Paintback collection facilities. They accept up to 100 litres per visit stowed in containers of up to 20 litres.

The unwanted paint and packaging is stored safely until it can be transported to the treatment facility where the packaging and liquid are separated.

The containers are recycled, subject to contamination :-The solvent paint is used as an alternative energy source. Water is separated from acrylic paint, with the by-product used in a variety of industrial applications significantly reducing landfill.

Their research and development program aims to improve the current resource recovery towards 90% diversion from landfill and movement up the waste hierarchy. That’s gotta be a great thing!

For more details, check out this website

Objects Your Kids Probably Don’t Want #1

No. 1: Sterling Silver and Crystal Glass Sets

Unless the scrap value for silver is high enough for a meltdown, matching sets of sterling flatware are hard to sell because they rarely go for ‘antique’ value. Formal entertaining is not a priority these days. And of course, sterling must be hand-washed and dried. Can you see your kids choosing to use the silver? Same goes for crystal: The sets you have are too precious, and the wine they hold is too small a portion.

No. 2: Fine Dinnerware

Your grown children may not want to store four sets of fancy porcelain dinnerware, and probably want want to unpack it once a year for a holiday or event.

They also don’t want multiple fine china sets either. They don’t even want one set. They do not see the logic. They don’t want porcelain tea sets or dessert, fish, or fruit services either. Ask yourself, when was the last time you witnessed your grown son using a saucer?

No. 3: Figurines and Plates

Collections of small items (animal figurines, toy cars, miniature cups) and plates are unfortunately no longer fashionable. Not much is ‘on show’ these days. Even though they’re filled with memories of those who gave them to you, they have no market value…. and they do not fit into the Zen-like tranquil aesthetic of a 20- or 30-something’s home. Maybe take a photo of your mum’s collections of items and turn them into a photo instead.

No. 4: Silver- Plated Objects

Your grown children will not polish silver ware, this I can fairly well guarantee. You can give them covered casserole dishes, meat platters, serving bowls, tea services, gravy boats, butter dishes and candelabra and they may appreciate the thought and the gift, but the items will more than likely sit in the cupboard unloved and unpolished. You could however, sell higher end items such as those branded Cristofle, Tiffany, Cartier and Asprey at Todd’s In Forrestfield or McKenzie’s auction house in Claremont.

Objects Your Kids Probably Don’t Want #2

No. 5: Linens

Go ahead, offer to send your daughter five boxes of hand-embroidered pillowcases, guest towels, napkins, and table cloths. She might not even own an iron or ironing board, and she definitely doesn’t set that kind of table. You could donate linens to costume shops of theatres or op shops for everyday items like sheets or excess towels.

No. 6: Antique Furniture

There is still a market for this sort of furniture, and that market is most often the secondhand shops. Beautifully carved ornate dining chairs will struggle to get $50 in today’s market, even ones in excellent condition. Sixties furniture and art deco furniture has value but there’s a good chance your excess furniture will go to an op shop or you’ll have to pay someone to take it off your hands. Today’s furniture is sleek, not heavy and dark like those of yesteryear.

No. 7: Persian Rugs

The modern tranquillity aimed for in the decor of the 20- to 30-somethings does not lend itself to a collection of multicoloured (and sometimes threadbare) Persian rugs. Try an auction house if you think you have a good one on your hands. Like antique furniture, it may be best to donate.

Objects Your Kids Probably Don’t Want #3


Unless your grown kids are professors, they generally don’t want your books. Books have been replaced by Netflix, lap top computers, Kindles and the Internet. Books are heavy, hard to lift and take up valuable space in our ever decreasingly sized homes.

Just because you have a set of books, they are rarely rare and rarely worth anything.

If you think the book is relatively common, plug the title, author, year of publication, and publisher into a search engine such as Once you have background information, call a book antiquarian.

Photos and other paper ephemera

Although a valuable link to the past and have great sentimental value, old photos are not worth much unless the sitter is a celebrity, is linked with an important historical event or the subject is extremely macabre, like a death memorial image.

Family photos can be useful but not mountains and mountains of them. An option is to take digital photos of your photos and email to your family.

Old greeting cards are not valuable unless handmade by a famous artist.

Postcards are valued mainly for the stamps.

Hate Waste?

Do you want to de-clutter but don’t want your items going to waste?

WE EMPTY HOUSES hates contributing to landfill or throwing something away that someone else can put to good use. Recycling or repurposing is always our preferred option.

Below are some solutions to the age old question of “What do I do with all my stuff?”

Kitchen and other general items

Op shops help a wide range of people – not just people wanting a cheap pair of jeans.

For example seniors on a tight budget, people who have to start again in a new house after a relationship breakup or a child moving out of home for the first time, unemployed people trying to buy presents for their kids at Christmas and the list goes on.

Your donation can really make a difference.

It gets the items out of your house and at the same time helps someone else – it’s a Win-Win situation.

Sample size items, personal items from hotels, small soaps, shampoos, other toiletries

Often charities make up care packages for their clients. When you’re homeless, hygiene items such as shampoo or conditioners, soaps, small towels etc can be both bulky to carry around and expensive to buy.


Often your friends may have the same taste in clothing as you. Get some large bags and label them with the names of your friends. As you sort through your clothes and a friends face pops into your mind, throw the item into the bag with their name on! If your friends don’t like them, they can pass them onto their friends too!

Craft supplies

Buying craft items can be addictive!

If craft is piling up, it can be donated to schools, kindergartens, community centres or local art centres. Contact TAFE to see if they need it for their vocational night classes.


Handyman items, tools, sheets of ply, screws, nails etc could go to Men’s Sheds or Repair Cafes.

Towels, pillow cases, sheets

Native animal rescue centres, dogs homes, cat havens go through a large amount of linen, towels, wash cloths and pillow cases as they have to be washed in between each animal to prevent the spread of infection. They are washed many times so wear out fast. Donations always welcome!

Glassware and crockery

Todd’s Auctions can sell sets of crockery, glasses and other collectables. You may not be able to afford an overseas holiday on the money you make, but money raised by the sale of items can make your weekly shopping dollar stretch a bit further. They will charge for pick up or WE EMPTY HOUSES can drop items off for you for a small charge. may also buy any rare pieces.

Electronic Items

Local tips take some electronic items, as do repair cafes or some op shops.

How can I get rid of the stuff I no longer need?

Local council pickup

Imagine connecting the trailer, paying for petrol, loading the trailer, driving to the tip, backing the trailer, unloading the trailer, driving home again, putting the trailer away, when all you have to do is walk out your front door! Your local council pick up can save hundred and hundreds of dollars in tip fees, skip bin hire, time, petrol and labour.

Give yourself a good amount of preparation time to do it yourself, or hire someone like WE EMPTY HOUSES to go through your items with you.

This way you have a second considered opinion, time to change your mind if you really cant do without that third large saucepan, and there’s someone to do the hard work for you. All you have to do is focus on how you’ll feel once your clutter’s gone and you have your house back!

Imagine that growing sense of pride as you see the pile on your verge getting bigger and bigger! I can almost guarantee you’ll be saying “I wish I’d done that sooner”!

Op Shops

These are run by charities and non profit organisations to provide further services to people that need them (Think Salvation Army who help the homeless, St Vinnies who provide employment for people with disabilities, Op Shops that fund raise for specific health issues such as Multiple Sclerosis or Cancer Research). Your donations to Op Shops help others… so get donating now!


They may have secretly been coveting something you no longer want. Send the word around
or email a list of what you no longer want. You might be surprised who comes out of the woodwork.

Schools, community centres, Men’s Sheds

All may be able to put your items to good use, rather than them collecting dust and creating a trip hazard in your house.


Sell them! Might take a while, but you’ll get some $$$$.

Buy Nothing

This Facebook page works by taking a photo of the item you no longer want, then posting the item with a small description. You can leave the items on the front fence, the verandah or in the letterbox so you don’t even have to be home (or answer the door) for the items to be collected.


Some councils have a tip where you can drop of unwanted but working items.

Donating to the Verge Gods

The act of placing an unwanted item on the verge outside your house signifies its free to whoever wants it driving past.

Don’t put it down, put it away!

If you’re moving house or going into somewhere smaller there are a few jobs that are both easy to do and that take minimal effort.

  1. Decide on what goes where, and stick to it. For example all scissors go in the second drawer.
  2. As you’re walking around your house, put all scissors from anywhere in the house, directly into the second drawer. Don’t just put them down willy nilly, put them in the second drawer every time! All fabric scissors, kitchen scissors, nail scissors etc.
  3. When you get to ‘packing up’ phase, you can decide if you really do need 10 pairs of scissors or maybe 1 or 2 will fulfill all cutting purposes. The rest can can be donated. (See my other article on where to donate things for more guidance).

It’s only a small action, but everything ads up to a tidy house, a reduction in clutter, and a smoother move at the end of the day!

Proper Disposal of Prescription Drugs

Don’t flush prescription drugs down the toilet or a drain.

Improperly flushed medications have been found to contribute to excessive groundwater contamination.

We Empty Houses can collate all your out of date or unnecessary prescription drugs and hand them back to a pharmacy. They can also be disposed at some local tips that take ‘Hazardous Household Waste’ (HHW).

Pharmacies dispose of them safely and ensure your privacy is protected at all times, and so they don’t get into the hands of your children or grandchildren who may be visiting.


18 Pairs of Scissors

Clutter is OK…but not if it’s negatively affecting your life.

Are you sick of always looking for things?

Can’t find the scissors AGAIN?

Do you waste money buying things you know you already own?

Sometimes it’s just a tidy up you need. You may not want to get rid of anything, just need a hand to put things back where they’re meant to be – and more importantly, so you know where you’ll find them next time.

We Empty Houses found 18 pairs of scissors in a house where the owner thought he only had one pair.

Imagine going to the spot were the scissors should live, and they’re actually there? Now, that’s satisfying!

Let We Empty Houses tidy your house. Make that call today!

What is a Gunna?

This is a Gunna.

These are the sorts of things you keep which turn into clutter.
“I broke a cup and I’m gunna fix it”.
“I’m gunna find all the missing pieces of that puzzle Aunty Di gave me”.
“I’m gunna do up that old set of drawers and sell it one day”.
“I’m gunna hang that picture frame in the hall”.

  1. Free yourself from the obligation of all your gunnas.
  2. Realistically, they don’t mean that much or you would’ve done it by now.
  3. Realistically, do you really care if the cup gets fixed?? You’ve got at least 10 others in the kitchen.
  4. Realisitically, do you think Aunty Di cares a bag of beans about that puzzle?
  5. Realistically, am I really going to get off my bum and hang that picture in the hall…
  6. Realistically, is that set of drawers going to be worth anything in today’s economy anyway?

Realistically the answer to all those is probably ‘no’. Free your mind. Free your space. Reduce your self imposed obligations. Reduce your gunnas.

We Empty Houses – Reducing gunnas since 2001. 0421 660 430

Household Hazardous Waste

Household hazardous waste (HHW) is post-consumer waste which qualifies as hazardous waste when discarded. It includes household chemicals and other consumer products sold for home care, personal care, automotive care, pest control and other purposes.

These products exhibit many of the same dangerous characteristics as fully regulated hazardous waste due to their potential for reactivity, ignitability, corrosivity, toxicity, or persistence.

Examples of items that CAN be taken to local tips include:

  • acids and alkalis
  • aerosols
  • household batteries
  • engine coolants and glycols
  • (red only) fire extinguishers
  • flammables
  • flares
  • fluorescent lamps and tubes
  • small household 9kg gas cylinders
  • household chemicals such as cleaners
  • paint
  • pesticides/herbicides
  • poisons and other toxics
  • pool chemicals
  • smoke detectors.

All items listed above can only be dropped off at local tips if they’re in domestic quantities of up to 20 litres or 20 kilograms per package/item.

Items that CAN’T be dropped off at local tips include:

  • asbestos
  • used motor oil
  • pharmaceuticals
  • sharps
  • halon fire extinguishers
  • other types of gas cylinders (eg automotive LPG cylinders, large household cylinders)
  • waste EPIRBs or PLBs
  • mobile phones
  • printer cartridges
  • batteries – lead acid
  • explosives (other than flares)
  • ammunition or fire arms
  • empty chemical containers or drums
  • any material from non-domestic sources (eg agricultural, commercial, veterinary or industrial waste)

Unknown chemicals are accepted but must be in sealed chemical resistant containers.

Besides the local tip, some other places that may take HHW include some major shopping centres (which have phone recycling stations), some community fairs (smaller household batteries), and some stores (like Officeworks) may collect used printer cartridges.

Your local council may also do annual verge collections of some types of HHW items such as paint and car batteries.

Hardware shops also sell products that render paint solid so they are easier to dispose of, and less likely to ruin the inside of your car!

Asking For Trouble

It’s amazing how many credit cards and cheque books we find. All get destroyed to ensure there’s no identity theft or fake bank (or other) accounts can be made in you or your loved one’s name. This is only a small percentage of the credit cards I found at this job site!

Gradually does it

Here are five ways to conquer the clutter so your family or friends won’t have to deal with it later:

1. Determine the items’ actual usage. Think honestly about whether you use inherited or collected items. If they’re packed away, they really aren’t part of your life

2. Have the conversation. Don’t assume your kids will want an item just because your plan was to pass it down. Have an honest discussion with the intended recipients, and don’t be offended if your kind offer is politely declined

3. Stop buying. Tidy up instead. Chances are you already have what you’re about to buy, you just don’t know where it is!

4. Purge periodically. Often, we keep things thinking we’ll use some day. Craft items are the worst for this! Are you really going to recover that chair or re-frame that nice picture of the rose you grew in 2005? Will decoupage ever come back into fashion? If the answer is no, the op shop will be happy to take them off your hands. If you’re not sure, then pack them away and you can reassess. If you haven’t used saved items within a few year, you’re not likely to.

5. Think practically about loved ones’ lifestyles. When saving items for family members, think: Will they want this? Do they have room for it? Is the item valuable only to me? The answers help with decisions to save or let go.

How long do you hold on to a loved one’s possessions? By Nadine von Cohen

When I woke today as every day, my cat softly batting my face as I hit snooze for the seventh time, I stumbled straight to the kitchen and put the kettle on for tea.

I’m not sure I even have a thought process that leads me through this morning ritual, or if muscle memory kicks in the second I get out of bed. I can never remember.

As the water climbed its way to boiling and steam moistened the air, I tried to ignore the liquid leaking from the kettle’s base and sliding over the counter to the floor. It’s been happening for a few months. Occasionally, the kettle also switches itself off mid-boil. So I’ve just been switching it back on, mopping up the puddles and refusing to admit the obvious: the kettle is dying.

Why am I attached to a kettle? Is it magic? Can I not afford a new one? They’re good questions.

In truth, the kettle’s only power is bringing water to a boil, which is a kind of magic I guess. And despite the considerable fiscal challenges of 2020, I am solvent enough to purchase new small appliances if needed.

It was my mum’s kettle. It was my mum’s kettle and it has outlived her for 15 years.

It’s a Sunbeam KE7500 type 606 and it’s at least 18 years old. Many times in the past decade and a half, I thought it was on its last legs. So many times I prepared to grieve for an inanimate chunk of metal that, to be honest, Mum didn’t even use that much. I even bought a new one several years ago, convinced of the incumbent’s imminent demise. But it lived on.

It’s the little kettle that could. But it really can’t anymore, and I don’t know how to let go.

When someone you love dies, everything they owned, everything they ever touched seems sacred. From diamonds to deck chairs, at first nothing is too small or mundane to hang on to. Whether or not you ever saw your loved one use or wear an item is inconsequential. It was theirs and so you vow to treasure it forever.

After a 21-month breast cancer-induced nightmare, my beautiful mum died at home at approximately 3am on October 21, 2005.

It was exactly two years and one week to the hour after progressive dementia had claimed my dad. They actually share the same Yahrzeit, the Jewish calendar anniversary of their deaths, a fact that comforts me, avowed atheism aside.

My sister Ariella and I packed up our parents’ house in what I can only describe as a griefy blur. Both post-war migrants, Mum from Poland, Dad from Egypt, they weren’t particularly wealthy or materialistic. There wasn’t a lot of expensive jewellery or other valuables, but financial value is irrelevant to the mourning.

From the old harmonica that Dad couldn’t play to the questionable paintings we knew we’d never hang, we kept pretty much everything except their clothes. It was like a reverse clearance sale. Everything must stay.

For about 10 years, Ariella and I held on to their worldly goods for dear life. I didn’t notice the brown and grey velour recliner chair was ugly as sin or that the “good china” was chipped (and also ugly as sin).

Aesthetics aside, their possessions consoled us. But gradually, something changed. We started to notice. Their furniture was shabby, their knick-knacks gauche, their cookware careworn. Though this isn’t how we phrased it at the time, none of it sparked joy anymore.

So, like morbid Marie Kondos, we began getting rid of all but the very sentimental things. Some we sold, some we donated and some only the council would take.

Years later, we’re still finding items to discard. In fact, on an out-of-reach shelf in my garage, along with a brand new kettle, are several mystery boxes of my parents’ belongings that haven’t been opened for 13 years.

When I first moved here, many of my parents’ whitegoods and appliances came with me. The washing machine, microwave, fridge and television all carked it within their expected lifespans, leaving only the kettle in their wake.

The innocuous kettle, with a cat’s abundance of lives. It’s seen me through three flatmates, five boyfriends, one nervous breakdown and several bad haircuts. But it’s terminal now, and I have to pull the plug.

But what do you do with a broken kettle you’re overly emotionally attached to? How do you throw away one of the last tangible vestiges of your mother’s legacy? What if her soul really is trapped inside it, as you’ve joked about for years?

I honestly don’t know. I can’t just throw it in the bin. If only a sea burial wasn’t wrong in 17 different ways.

There’s no one right way to grieve and no one right way to dispose of a deceased loved one’s estate.

Keep everything. Keep nothing. Keep calm, carry on. Do whatever hurts least at first and reassess whenever the mood takes you.

It’s a long process and a fascinating one at that. You’ll find pleasure and pain in trivial objects and unexpected places, even after 15 years. The other day I cried over her favourite packet noodles. I blame 2020.

In the Jewish community, when someone dies we say to the bereaved, “Langes leben” or “I wish you a long life”. I’ve always loved the sentiment, I just didn’t realise it extended to kettles.

Nadine von Cohen is a Sydney-based writer and refugee advocate who can usually be found on Twitter swearing in all caps and refusing to punctuate.

It’s hard enough without having to do all this

There’s usually a lot of questions when a loved one passes away. How do I choose a funeral provider? Who’s going to get up and make a speech? Where are all those good photos to show during the service? How do I empty the deceased estate? How do I cancel the paper delivery?

Not only are you managing your own grief, but also that of family and friends.

You want to be alone, they want to pop by and see if you’re OK………You want company and they stay away for fear of not knowing what to say.

In regards to the deceased estate clearance, use the old ‘How do you eat an elephant?’ metaphor…and remember the answer is simply ‘one bite at a time’. It probably feels overwhelming, but every step you take, every object you move, is progress of some sort. It’s not just about ‘getting rid of Mum’s stuff’, but going through her personal items might help you process your loss.

But don’t feel you HAVE to do it – there’s help out there if you Just. Cant. Face. It.

That’s OK too. Take the help.

Electronic Waste (E-waste)

Remember when ALL our waste just got buried in one big hole? Well now most councils have recycling facilities for hazardous material, metal, cardboard and electronic waste – also called E-Waste.

This large pile pictured was all from one hoarder and this was only about one fifth of his total electronic bounty. Good on the gent for allowing We Empty Houses the extra time to do the right thing by the environment and segregate all his waste.

Interesting things I’ve found emptying deceased estates – Part 14

Footy player Hayden Ballentine’s bigger than life-size head on the toilet wall…..

Interesting things I’ve found emptying deceased estates – Part 15

Poor guy had mental health issues.

Rats had eaten out the stove, the pantry, the wiring, the back of the kitchen cupboards.

You name it, the rats had been there.

We made it look beautiful again.

Things I’ve found emptying deceased estates – Part 16

This lady was the queen of up-cycling. This bag was hand stitched out of a lounge cushion cover. We emptied and cleaned her deceased estate all the while marvelling at gems like this she’d made.

The History of Us

You learn a lot about a person when you empty their deceased estate – in this case their favourite drink…

….their favourite food….

…their hobbies…


….their precious collections

….their sporting teams

and their profession!





You’ve got a problem? We Empty Houses has the solution.

As well as emptying houses, we can also assist if you’re moving into somewhere smaller.

Things to consider:

  • How much space will I have where I’m going?
  • Which furniture is the right size to go into my new place?
  • Where do I get boxes to move?
  • How do I arrange tradespeople to fix things at my old or my new place?
  • How do I get my old place cleaned so I get my bond back?
  • Do I need ramps or handrails in my new place?
  • How do I turn off the power and water at my old place?
  • In what order do I do things?
  • How do I set up internet?
  • How do I get the keys if I don’t drive?
  • How do I redirect my mail?
  • Who do I have to tell I’ve changed addresses?

We Empty Houses can help with all these things. Just ask!

Do you require specific help or are simply unsure where to begin?

We’re here to help.

Request a Call Back