Final Destination: Decluttering Edition

Something about the new year always makes me want to de-clutter. After all the Christmas decorations come down, I’m ready for clean spaces and fresh rooms!

Last year, I did the “Declutter like a Mother” challenge (see my posts here, here, here, and here) and did a huge overhaul of the house. The thing I’ve found is, you’re never really done decluttering. Clutter has a way of continuing to creep into our homes, but I’ve found that staying consistent and going through rooms periodically keeps things at a good, manageable level for me. This year, I’m just doing a sweep of each room and getting rid of items we don’t need, don’t use, or that are just taking up space unnecessarily.

If you’re like me, sometimes it can be hard to get rid of perfectly good items. My #1 tip for decluttering is: know the ‘final destinations’ for your items. In other words, where are you taking them once they leave your home? Sounds simple, but just deciding this helps tremendously! It’s so much easier for me to get rid of something if I know exactly where I’m going to take it. It’s like once I have a purpose for the item beyond the walls of my house, it becomes a much simpler task to accept that it doesn’t belong here anymore and I can move on.

It takes some initial research, but I think it’s really beneficial to find local places to take specific things. Rather than just throw everything in one big bag and drop it off at the Salvation Army or Goodwill (which, I’ll admit, I have done in the past too), these large stores are often overwhelmed with donations this time of year. According to many articles I’ve read, like this one from HuffPost and  this one from ABC News: “In most cases, a small amount of the items, the best quality castoffs — less than 10 percent of donations — are kept by the charitable institutions and sold in their thrift shops to other Americans looking for a bargain.” (source) I used to volunteer in a thrift store in high school and can personally attest that it’s overwhelming to just receive heaps of stuff, particularly when it’s obvious that the person donating just threw whatever they didn’t want in a box. Sometimes it’s quality items, but sometimes it’s just junk. So the first order of business is: recognize when something truly does need to be trashed (like something broken beyond repair). The second item is: figure out where your items will be best used or most needed and then take them there!

For things that still have value, I have five tried and true destinations to take things.  When I do a major de-cluttering sweep, I’ll designate boxes for each destination and add things to the boxes as I go through my rooms. Keeps things simple and organized and when I’m done, I just have to load them in my car and drop them off at the right place!

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My five favorite places to take things to are:

1 – ReStores

ReStore (a Habitat for Humanity store) is a great place to take donations to be used for home improvement. They will accept everything from used furniture to home decor items to the kitchen cabinets, countertops, sinks, baseboards, etc that are taken out of houses during a renovation. I just keep a box in my garage so every time we have a home improvement item we don’t want or need anymore, I put it in the box and when it gets full, I drop it off at the local ReStore. I would show you a picture of the box, but I just dropped off our donations (of curtain rods, door handles, and light fixtures from our guest suite renovation) last week.

2- Local thrift stores with a mission

We have one thrift store in my area that is part of a broader ministry of raising funds, creating training opportunities, and providing clothing and goods to help local people overcome homelessness. I take clothing, toys, books, etc. there, (and it’s also a thrift store that I’ll frequently shop and support!) My mom’s church also runs a program where gently used formal wear is collected for teens to come and purchase items for prom. Everything is sold by pay-what-you-can donations (and can be taken for free as well) and the proceeds go to local ministries. I love taking cocktail dresses, heels, and Justin’s suit coats or ties to donate there knowing my items will not only get new life, but it contributes to the greater good. Every area is going to offer different options, but I encourage you to find local organizations with missions you support to donate your quality items to!

3 + 4 – Consignment Stores

Every time I declutter, some items stand out as ones that I could sell and make a decent profit off of. When we lived in a subdivision, it was easy to corral items and sell them during our association garage sales. We don’t live in a subdivision anymore so a garage sale feels like a lot of work for very little profit, which leaves two options: sell the items online or take them to a consignment shop. I typically only sell something online if its value is over $50. It’s just not worth it to post pictures, write a description, field questions, designate a meeting spot with the buyer, and then travel to that spot to exchange the item, only to make $5. I’m trying to simplify here, not make a ton of extra work for a couple bucks.

Consignment stores are the best option for me right now and I have two that I take items to: one for my clothing/purses/shoes/home decor and then another one for kids’ items. I keep a box of my stuff and a box of kids stuff (making sure all the clothes are washed and in good wearable condition) and once I’m done de-cluttering, I drop them off and make a little money. What doesn’t get sold will get donated to my local thrift store.

5 – Recycling

I love donating to textile recycling programs rather than just throwing away old socks, a shirt with holes, or a frayed and worn towel. I use the H&M program because they will accept any textile in any condition and for every bag you donate, they’ll give you a coupon to use in their store. What can’t be re-worn or re-used in its original condition gets broken down into textile fibers, or is used to manufacture products such as damping and insulating materials for the auto industry.  I keep a bag in my laundry room to collect things and once it gets full, I take it in to my local H&M store.

Like I said earlier, it takes a little work on the front end to research local options and decide where to take everything, but once you do that one time, you don’t have to do it again. Now that I know where to take things, it’s super easy to just designate a box, fill it up, and drop it off!

Do you declutter this time of year too? Where do you like to take your items to?