Since the beginning of the year, I have been focusing on streamlining, organizing and emptying the house of things we don’t need. Getting rid of stuff honestly feels so liberating. So freeing. The criteria is strict. If we don’t love it or need it, out it goes. And nothing is off limits. As I make my way through all the nooks and crannies of the house, I’m going through closets, drawers, shelves; you name it, I’m going through it. As this is month five, and it’s not something I work on every day, I am slowly seeing progress. Even the kids are in on the act as I stage a stuffed animal intervention. Simply for fear that if I don’t, they will soon overtake our lives.
But what do with the unwanted and unneeded items? I am very intent on not just throwing things away. Oh the waste. Instead they find new homes in a variety of ways. As I come across more and more people that are shedding the things in their lives along with us, in an effort to really live more fully and freely without being weighed down by stuff, I thought I would share some of the ways we’ve diverted our things.
Freecycle – this e-mail based group was created in an effort to keep items out of the landfill. In a true interpretation of “one man’s trash is another person’s treasure,” you can sign up for this free group by your location. If you have something you want to get rid of, you send out an email and you’ll get replies from people who can use your item(s). You choose who you want to give the item to based on your own personal criteria. The same goes if you’re looking for something specific – you just send out a “wanted” email. As with any forum where you’re dealing with people you don’t know, exercise caution and use common sense. I leave the items on our front porch when I know someone is coming to pick something up, so I don’t need to interact with complete strangers or have them in my house.
Craig’s List – I’ve been selling items here with great success. Typically if it has a value of, for example, $10 or higher, is in good to excellent condition and I think it might be worth something to someone, I list it on Craig’s List. Again, a free service organized by location. A great way to get rid of baby stuff! And for this one, I typically meet people in a public parking lot as we do the exchange.
Cash for Books – I heart this site (and the next one). It’s quite simple. Have books you don’t need or want anymore? Type in the ISBN number and they will tell you what they will pay for the book. Pack them up and ship them out, using a label that you print out (they pay for shipping via the post office or Fedex). They will email you when they receive your package and once it’s confirmed, they pay you via PayPal. Nice, easy, painless and typically you get nice money for your books, and more than you would if you sold them at a garage sale.
Buy Back Madness – Another one of my favorites, this is a great site to sell your unwanted DVDs, CDs, games and more. Again, pack it up and ship the items out, with them paying for the shipping. Once they receive and verify your package, they pay via PayPal.
Gazelle – a new find of mine, this site will buy a wide variety of electronic items. Have a printer, camcorder or camera you’d like to get rid of? Price your item out and make your decision. They’ll even send you a box to ship the item(s) in.
Cell for Cash – with everyone upgrading their cell phones so frequently, this is a great place to get rid of your old one. They’ll send you a box and the packing material and pay nice money for the phone you send them.
Clothes – I have been donating outgrown clothes to local clothing donation bins and consignment stores. A little bit of good karma and a little bit of cash.
Garage sale – I love garage sale season and can’t wait until it really gets underway. Although it’s quite a bit of work, it’s a good and easy way to get rid of a lot in one fell swoop.
Soles 4 Soles – a terrific organization that takes your unwanted shoes and gives them to people who need them.
Nike – will take your unwanted rubber-soled shoes and reuse the rubber for children’s playgrounds.
Now paper, for me, is another story. Oh the amounts of recipe clippings alone! But it is all fairly well contained and a definite work in progress. Photos and the organization of them is my next project to tackle, and something I have set aside for Nick and the babysitter to work on as a summer project. I am determined to get all our photos into albums and properly organized by the end of the summer, even if it kills me. And it just might.
It feels so good to look around our space and know that everything is here because we love it or need it. It all has a definite purpose and the extra space opens us up to so much more. “When you get rid of things you no longer need, you make room for the life you’ve always wanted,” said a recent issue of Body+Soul magazine, and I totally commit to every word of that. That quote is tacked onto my refrigerator, right underneath a favorite Calvin & Hobbes cartoon. Their recent issue has a good article on taming clutter and some fantastic tips on reclaiming your space and making it inspiring – more details can be found here.
As I tackle clutter and get rid of unnecessary items, I fully understand what Oprah means when she says “your home should rise up to meet you.” My home is my haven. My kids’ haven. Where we go when we want to be happy, be safe, forget the world. It is us, but doesn’t define us. And it has everything we need and not one speck more.