I'm a lawyer, and I handle lots of estates when people die. It breaks my heart to see how much people throw away. Throwing it away nearly always makes sense for the people who do it, though. From their point of view, the house is valuable, and they need to get it cleared out to get it on the market quickly. Even if you want to give away the contents of the house, you'll spend untold hours dealing with craigslist fools. Most people don't have the time or patience. I'm thankful to work with a real estate agent who is committed to recycling. He often helps clear out apartments when the owner dies, and he tries to find a home for everything. I often help him, because I'm committed to recycling too. Last year the two of us cleared out a home after the owner died, and his kids took what little they wanted. We diverted a whole lot of stuff from the landfill, and I even made good money selling some of it. (A single Porsche 911 wheel that was buried in leaves in the back yard brought over $200.) The best arrangement I've found is when there is enough space in a backyard, just post a craigslist "Free" advertisement, then start moving stuff into the back yard, near the dumpster but not in it. Teams of freebie hunters will descend on the place within hours in Denver. They will even carry the stuff out of the house and save you the effort. Once they have gone through it all and taken what they can, the rest is already near the dumpster. Sadly, most of my clients who die live in apartment communities, and the management won't tolerate that practice, not even for a day. Sadly, the freebie hunters often make an enormous mess in the process. I'm a freebie hunter myself, so I'll do what I can to keep stuff out of the landfills. I'm glad there are people who can make their living collecting and re-selling other people's trash. It's gives them a far better sense of self-respect than sitting on the street corner begging for money.