Declutter your home – declutter your life
I tried not to take it personally when my sister gifted me Marie Kondo’s book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. And, though I discovered some interesting suggestions for organizing my things (items in a drawer should stand upright, not lie flat), I also found that – like much of the decluttering discourse – it failed to address what to do with my stuff once I made the move to declutter.
The thought that our stuff will simply get thrown into a landfill, I soon learned, is one of the biggest roadblocks for many of us when it comes to letting go. “Ninety per cent of people care about where their stuff goes,” says Linda Chu, a spokesperson for Professional Organizers in Canada.
Stephen Ilott of decluttering.ca, a professional organizer based in Oakville, ON, concurs. People who have invested a lifetime in taking care of memories and memorabilia want to ensure that their things go to a good home – if not to family members, then to those who would benefit most at a women’s shelter, an at-risk youth centre or an innovative charity.
Sound familiar? Our guide will help you find the best new home for your old stuff.
Declutter your closet
There are some innovative programs in Canada that are helping to expand the potential for used clothing, with textile-recycling programs topping the list.
The city of Markham, ON, has recently initiated such a project in partnership with The Salvation Army and Diabetes Canada. It collects all types of clothing, and those not suitable for resale are recycled and repurposed by other organizations into items like insulation and car seats. The bottom line is, your clothes don’t have to be in perfect condition to enjoy a second life.
If you do have some tip-top outfits, consider giving them to organizations that support women. For example, you can donate new or nearly new suits, shoes and accessories to Dress for Success. This organization, which has 11 locations across Canada, provides women with an initial suit for their first job interviews and up to a full work week of outfits once they land a job.
Other groups, such as The Cinderella Project in Vancouver, accept outfits – as well as in-kind and cash donations – for high school graduates who can’t afford formal attire for their graduation festivities (the site lists similar organizations across the country).
The more traditional way to donate clothing is to seek out charities with drop-off centres and donation bins. Other charities, such as Diabetes Canada’s Clothesline program, will pick up clothes on designated days directly from your home. Yard sales are also a classic way to get rid of old clothes.
Declutter your book shelves
An innovative way to reuse old or damaged books is to repurpose them for art. Having a wedding? You can create a “book arch” or make origami flowers out of book pages. Schools may also want them to create blackout poetry (where you blacken out words on a page, leaving only the words that create a poem). Check Pinterest for ideas.
If you have gently used books, inquire at your local library, school and church if they may be interested in them to sell at fundraisers or keep for their own collections. Alternatively, you can drop off books at one of the growing number of Little Free Library boxes. Check out littlefreelibrary.org to find one close to you.
Used-goods stores, such as Value Village, Goodwill and Mennonite Central Committee Thrift Shops, also accept books, among other household items.