January is clean slate time. What better slate to clean than those cluttered closets, wardrobes, pantries, garages, and the like?
If this is something you’ve been thinking about doing, here’s an important first-step suggestion: Get rid of items that are still serviceable but that you’re hanging on to for some unaccounted reason.
How to De-Clutter
Small appliances are an example of unused, serviceable items that many hang on to. Another is clothing: closets are often bursting with rarely (and never worn) items that can go. Ditto electronics, including monitors, mice, DVD players and projectors, VCRs and DVRs.
When you donate or give away such items, it’s a triple-win: recipients get meaningful use out of your still-useful items; you’ll recover useful space; you’ll feel good about passing on the items.
Donating: An addition to “Salvation Army” or “Goodwill”, check out the variety of smaller organizations and thrift shops, typically operated by charitable organization, that sometimes specialize in their offerings. For example:
- Dress For Success provides professional clothing for financially disadvantaged women who can’t afford appropriate clothing for employment interviews and jobs.
- Lions Club International offers gently used prescription eyeglasses and hearing aids as well as unopened contact lenses.
- Operation Paperback exists to help folks send books, paperbacks and some magazines to military folks eager to receive and read them.
- One Warm Coat provides gently used coats to adults and children in need.
- In your community, do a search for charity-sponsored thrift shops. Inasmuch as some specialize, check to see what kinds of items are accepted – clothing? small appliances? furniture? dishes and glassware? – and donate accordingly.
Give away your Clutter
Giving away: It has become easier than ever to give away things you no longer need or want.
The premiere worldwide give-away organization is Freecycle.org. Its self-described mission is to keep items out of landfills by providing a free internet listing service so that people can give unwanted items to someone else for free.
Two additional web-based services that include give-aways are Craigslist.org (under the “free stuff” section) and Nextdoor.com (under the “For sale and free” section).
Do It Safely: This is not a way to meet new people or make friends….meet in a safe, public space for any giveaways or handoffs.
Who wants my Clutter?
To enhance the likelihood of people wanting your items:
- Post photographs. Even if it’s free, people like to see the offering to make sure it’s right for them.
- Let people know how well the item functions. Example: “A.C. works well but a bit noisy.” A hard-of-hearing person needing an air conditioner might not consider this a drawback.
- List details. Where applicable, give dimensions, type of material (glass, wood, plastic or whatever). Note any imperfections (e.g.,. light scratches) or the like.
DeClutter and Get Social
Join Senior Planet’s “Own Less (Decluttering Tips)” Community: Go to the “Get Involved” website tab; click on “Senior Planet Community”.
Jewel recently posted this useful tip: “If you have children that live close by, have a party and let them take things they cherish. I did this a few weeks ago and gave away tons of books. My grandchildren were overjoyed.”
While you’re there, look for the video member Jonathan posted – Ashley Ingraham’s advice-filled “Decluttering and Downsizing Your Home” video.
You can get rid of a lot of things – and even make a little money – by holding a garage sale. They’re weekend staples in many parts of the country – flea market equivalents –with people checking out the offerings for entertainment and/or bargain-hunting purposes. Or better yet, team up with neighbors for a multi-home effort.
How do YOU de-clutter?
To help each other, post your ideas and suggestions in the comment section below, and celebrate Clean Slate month!
Nona Aguilar is an award-winning writer of numerous magazine articles and two books. She has also edited four specialty business newsletter publications. Her work has appeared in Ladies Home Journal, Redbook, Family Circle and other outlets.