Let Go: Say So Long to Clutter
Is your clutter getting on your nerves? It might be time to clean out the chaos and let the stuff you no longer need go to a thrift store near you.
It’s good to go through this process more than once a year, but here’s a list of commonly stockpiled items that may need to be spring-cleaned out of your home and into the life of someone who will give that old mug or T-shirt a good, new life.
Like many things that we hold onto, books can take on sentimental meaning and are hard to let go of, even if they’re bad books. But what about the ones you’ve had for five years that you’ve been “meaning to read?” Even if you have read them, wouldn’t it be great to donate these gems so another lucky soul can obtain them for a bargain and be enlightened, too? Stick to the rule that if there’s not enough space in the bookshelves you already have, then you may need to part with a book or ten, especially if they’ve been on the to-do reading list for more than a couple of years!
Yes, we know: those cooking magazines have the key recipes that will one day turn you into a domestic god/goddess. And that pile of Architectural Digests could collectively be responsible for building your dream home one day. But let’s be real, OK? Thanks to the internet, the knowledge that a 2004 issue of The New Yorker can impart isn’t lost by tossing it in the recycling bin or donating it to charity. If you haven’t consumed it in the first month of receiving it, you probably won’t do it next month, either. Or the next. And while you’re at it, don’t forget to toss the junk mail along with those magazine subscriptions.
A rule of thumb for ladies and gents alike: two years unworn, and it goes in the thrift store bag, or bags. And what about those unmatched socks? Imagine a world without sifting through until you find a mate. Kids clothes need to go too — and though it is understandably hard to give away your child’s belongings, surely you can think of a friend that could really use them. Even if you’re saving them for your own hand-me-downs, know that the favor will more than likely be returned one day if or when your next kid comes along.
It’s not uncommon for people to attach souls to their soles. But imagine it like this: those long-forgotten shoes could be rediscovered in a thrift store by new eyes who will love them all over again in a different place and give them new memories. Let someone else have their fun and walk a mile in your shoes, while you make room for the next pair you know you’ll wind up with sooner than later. And stop hanging on to every pair of running shoes you’ve ever owned and every broken-heeled shoe, too. If your shoe-shop pile can fill a large box, it’s time to go ahead and carry it to the nearest donation drop box.
Though you may be a big fan of coffee, does one human really need that many mugs? See what you can live without and gently place the rest in a soon-to-depart thrift store box. While you’re at it, have a look through the rest of the drawers and cabinets. Do you own duplicate appliances? When you acquire something new, do away with the old. Ten spatulas are about as useful as two fondue sets. If it’s a gift you’re feeling guilty about discarding, remember you can apply the two-year rule to unneeded presents, too. No one who cares enough to give you something would want you to guilt yourself into keeping it on the top of a shelf forever.
The garage, or shed, is the place where stuff can really pile up, so give yours a thorough sweep, and soon. How many years must one hang onto a half-empty can of paint before it’s deemed disposable? You can bet that as it sits collecting dust, someone else is scouring a thrift store searching for that very shade. And while you’re in there, consider eliminating any extra or broken tools that are useless to you now. Donating them will make a thrift-store digger out there one happy shopper.
Remember to donate to a charity thrift store that you believe in, as this always makes you feel less sentimental about your things, and you’ll leave with a sense that you’ve accomplished a lot for both yourself as well as others. And don’t forget the donation receipt either: it’ll come in handy come tax time. Good luck, and have fun with your newfound extra space.
What’s the first thing you’ll be donating?
Garret Stembridge is part of the team at Extra Space Storage, a leading provider of self-storage facilities. Garret often writes about storage and organization topics for homes and for businesses.