Americans spend billions of dollars a year on storage containers! Recent data indicated that we spent $1.4 billion on food storage containers in 2003 alone! I am a pack rat by nature and I save everything: Broken jewelry and bits of china, ribbon pieces to be used in future craft projects; clothing that is a decade out of style but just too nice to throw away. It is a compulsion and a bad habit that with some practice can be reformed.
The first stop is to change your mindset: This is not easy. You have to choose to be ruthless. If you just cannot bear to throw or give your stuff away cold turkey, place it in a box and seal the box and label with a date 6 months in the future. If you have not broken the seal on the box to retrieve an item in 6 months it is safe to donate to your favorite local charity.
Think of the free time you'll gain by not having to clean your stuff or look for it in piles of junk. Get creative when trying to clean out your items. Set a timer and allow yourself only 15 minutes to clean out a closet. Have boxes handy for throw away, donate and put in their rightful place. Do you really want your loved ones to find all the ____ (Fill in the blank) if you were to die unexpectedly? We laugh and say my husband will kill me when he finds all the fabric, yarn and craft supplies in the basement if I were to die suddenly!
Consider recycling your used sporting good equipment, camping gear and last years cleats to a used sporting good consignment store. Many children' consignment stores accept toys, books, CDs and DVDs too. Many cities now have consignment stores for your used musical instruments as well.
Some cities have stores which buy your used books, magazines, CDs, and DVDs. You get a store credit to purchase new and slightly used items in my home town.
Turn all your hangers backwards; as you wear an item, turn the hanger to face the correct way. At the end of the season dispose of all the clothing you have not worn. Consign it, donate it or e-bay it. Be ruthless - this is not easy!
Resist purchasing clothing just because it is on sale and a good bargain. Many of these items end up being discarded with the tags still on them.
Recycle your clothing: Turn kids t-shirts or all your racing shirts in to a lap blanket or a quilt. These make nice gifts. I made one for my daughter when she went to college. I have even heard of recycling deceased loved ones garments into a blanket or stuffed animals. Old ties can be made into skirts or messenger bags. Recycle buttons into bracelets or for future sewing projects.
Host a PROM dress exchange at your local high school or contact an inner city school about hosting a free PROM dress shopping day in their gym.
Host a yard sale, a FREE give away (instead of a sale), donate to your local churches Mission, allow the DAV or Veterans organization pickup, post on Craigslist, etc.
I knew my life was one of shameless excess when I counted 10 wooden spoons in my utensil drawer. Clean out baking pans, cookware, storage containers and utensils that you have not used in a year. If you can't identify the purpose of the kitchen gadget you need to get rid of it. If you dread using that food processor, grill or waffle iron because it so hard to clean, just get rid of it!
Discard all expired medications on an annual basis. Use your birthday or holiday as the annual date. Discard those half used tubes of lipstick. E-bay the freebies you don't use that you get when you purchase high end cosmetics.
Don't purchase craft items until immediately prior to beginning your craft. I have wasted mega-bucks on projects I wanted to try only to have the supplies accumulate but never get used. Donate leftovers to your church resource room, schools after school daycare program or the local preschool.
Don't open that box from your last move 4 years ago. Take it directly to the Goodwill! Trust me, you will NEVER miss it! Discard all the "parts" of broken items you were planning on repairing. You are NEVER going to get around to doing it if it has been there for more than 3 months.
Some people are forced to do this when downsizing to a smaller house. I am a lot happier to see uncluttered counters and the basement floor. There have even been studies that indicate that clutter increases your stress. Do yourself a favor and start de-cluttering today!
Source: I finally got serious about de-clutterng and it worked for me!
By Diana from Prospect, KY
I have something posted in front of me on my computer. It says, "By keeping only what you need, you'll always be able to find what you want, when you need it!" And here I am reading this good article, now if only I would do it!
Thanks for some wonderful hints.
Shirley in Ohio
Try the group Freecycle. Dedicated to keeping things out of landfills, you can use this group to find new homes for items that you can't bear to just throw out. I've freecycled everything from a couch to a box of pieces from a broken mirror. Check them out at http://www.freecycle.org/
Also craigslist has a section for free stuff that might be useful. I've not used it but I know folks that have with good results.
The only thing I would add, is I now have a rule. "If you bring something home, something else has to leave, unless it's a replacement for something broken and already gone." For a pack rat, this is difficult to do, though after working on it for several years, it's getting easier to do.
Besides Freecycle, what are some charties/organizations that will take your stuff, such as cellphones, clothing, appliances, furniture, etc. I know Habitat for Humanity will take gently used items in their stores and sell them.
I saw a quote once that I copied and hung on the wall of my computer room. " Clutter: Anything you own, possess, or do that does not enhance your life on a regular basis." Good words to live by.
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