Let go of perfectly good clutter

Recently I was working with a client who had spent a lot of time decluttering and organizing before we started working together.

One of the biggest pains for her was her mudroom. It was crowded (actually, her word was “constipated”) with all kinds of stuff that she had decided to get rid of - but she was at a loss of how to literally remove this perfectly good clutter from her space.

It didn’t feel right for her to just throw so much usable stuff in the trash and call it a day.

Those of us who are aware of our society’s overwhelming trash problem are challenged by this. I know that for me, wrapping my head around this was absolutely devastating and it took me a long time to feel like I could take up space as a person again. I had to learn to accept this widespread issue and overcome this guilt and shame I had around trash, while doing what I can to reduce my impact.

Are your concerns for the environment making it difficult to let go of the things that aren’t serving you? You don’t deserve to live in a landfill. Here are some ways to give your perfectly good clutter another chance while releasing them from your space.

♡ Donate.

Any clothes, shoes, housewares, furniture, and books that are in perfectly good condition are worth donating. It’s so much more efficient to direct as much stuff as you can in this direction. Check out the lists offered here, here and here.

The trick is actually getting to the donation center. How many of us have driven around for months with bags of donations in the trunk? I’m guilty. Now I make sure to actually put this errand on my to-do list and do it purposefully.

Some donation centers offer a free pick up, too, though you may need to wait for your appointment.

♡ Share.

Perfectly good clutter that can’t be donated can always be shared. I don’t mean guilting people you know into taking your stuff - please don’t be that person. You need to take a baby step or two to put your perfectly good stuff in front of the people who want it.

There’s Freecycle, there’s the list of free stuff on Craigslist, local swap groups on Facebook, and some communities even have swap shops! Here in Northampton, we have the Recenter, where residents can freely give and take second hand goods. Pick one or two markets and get to know them. Once you break the ice, it’s easy to keep sharing, and this keeps the clutter moving out of your space.

You can also think about who genuinely really needs what you have. I once gave a ton of my extra writing utensils to the school where I worked - this was a super simple, convenient way to share my overabundance.

♡ Resell.

Reselling your stuff can be another way to get your perfectly good clutter into the hands of those who appreciate it. Just make sure you’re not making this into a decluttering block by overcomplicating the process.

If you have a lot of different kinds of stuff to sell at once, one option might be to have a yard sale. If you go this route, I recommend planning for a trip to a donation center right after to give away anything that wasn’t sold.

For bigger ticket items, like furniture, I like to use Craigslist. There are second hand markets on Facebook as well. I am not a fan of Ebay unless you know what you are doing - I have actually lost money once listing an item that didn’t sell because I had no idea what I was doing. Burn!

If you suspect that you might have some antiques on your hands, the most seamless way to move them along while recouping some money is to contact a local antique dealer. They’ll be able to appraise the value of what you have and do the work of selling it for you.

♡ Recycle.

For items that can’t be sold but can be recycled or composted, please do so if this feels feasible! Check with your local DPW to see what’s available to recycle in your community.

Sadly, at the end of all of this, there may still be some items that have nowhere to go but the trash, and we have to have compassion for ourselves.

To ease the pain, think of all of the stuff you did get to save from the landfill by maximizing the above options. Also consider that decluttering with intention will allow you to get clear on how you can consume less stuff, which will further reduce your impact on the environment.

With Love + Gratitude,