Spring is a time of renewal, a time to clear out the old and bring in the new. After all, it’s not called Spring Cleaning for nothing. But many of us, myself included, get bogged down in the idea of cleaning out our house. Sometimes we wait so long that we feel overwhelmed with the task before us. Questions like, What should I get rid of? What if I need it later? What do I do with all of this stuff? keep us from taking that step of clearing our home so we can have an uncluttered living space.
Today I will answer a few of those questions. This Take-Action Tuesday is about taking the needed steps to clear out the excess stuff in your house and hopefully make a difference in someone else’s life in the process. Some things you may already know and some may open your eyes to several great opportunities to help others while clearing out what you no longer need.
You are probably familiar with the general “rules” for sorting the stuff you go through. One pile is for keeping, one is for giving away, and the last pile is the trash can. If you have not done this for a while, it can be daunting to know where to start. I have stood in front of my closet staring at my clothes with the best intentions, but remain frozen with indecision. If this happens to you (phew…I’m not alone!), take it slow. You don’t have to get it all done in one day.
A few tricks include finding the stuff you haven’t used in the past couple of years. If you haven’t worn it in the past year, you most likely won’t wear it in the future. In full disclosure, I have a red silk Chinese shirt that I refuse to part ways with. I remember last wearing it in 2002, but I am convinced I will wear it again. If you find yourself in this situation, move onto something else you can get rid of. Once you start, the process gets easier, I promise. You will soon find yourself motivated by the empty space before you. Another trick is to put these items in a box under your bed or high in the closet. Out of sight, out of mind. If you don’t miss them after 6 months, let them go.
If you need a little push to get motivated, these women have some great guides on their blogs about getting organized in your closet and throughout the rest of your house:
Once you have your “keep” stuff back in its proper closet, shelf, or cabinet, and the trash is outside, what do you do with the giveaway pile? There are many options available, but the key is to do it fast before items find their way back into your home.
Donations to Charities
You can make donations of gently-used items to thrift stores like Goodwill and the Salvation Army. You can also find local charities with attached thrift stores. In Mobile, try Seconds on Sage, Penelope’s Closet, and Mobile SPCA Second Chance Retail Shop, to name a few. There are many others out there—look online or contact your favorite charity to see if they have a store or if they can use donated items. Some organizations may not have a storefront, but they may hold rummage sales to raise money. These are great places to donate gently-used clothes, toys, movies, and appliances.
Donations to Shelters
Also consider charities that help high-risk populations like homeless shelters and women’s shelters. Many of their clients come in with the clothes on their backs and need many items that we might take for granted. Most of the charities around town have wish lists on their websites that you can use as a guide. For example, many shelters can use your collection of shampoos, conditioners, and lotions that you accumulate from various hotels. Many women’s shelters will take your unopened “free with purchase” make-up gifts from department store cosmetic counters.
If you want to make a little money and your items are in good condition, consider selling your clothes at a consignment shop. Consignment shops sell your items for you and take a small portion of the sales. This is a great option if you are getting rid of fancy clothes, barely-used appliances, or items that have never been opened/worn. There are stand-alone consignment shops and there are also consignment events like the Wee Exchange that lets you sell children’s clothes, toys, and equipment two times a year. This is a great way to make some money for updating your wardrobe, getting that things you’ve been saving for, or just to put in savings for a rainy day.
Another option is free-cycling, which is giving away your unwanted items to someone who does want them. There are freecycle websites and yahoo groups in most cities where you can post what you have or what you want (usually smaller items like egg cartons and old magazines). Look for one in your area at freecycle.org.
You can also try your hand at upcycling your stuff. While it’s not the same as giving it away, it does transform an item with no use into an item you will use and enjoy. A google search can give you an idea of the possibilities for upcycling a particular item. Pinterest is also a fantastic resource for this kind of thing. You can find tutorials for everything from turning Mardi Gras beads into a chandelier to making a jewelry box out of an old board game. Start your search on our Pinterest page!
Good luck on your spring cleaning and finding new homes for your stuff. Perhaps this will be the year that my red silk shirt makes it to someone else’s home!