I know from my Google Statistics that you are more likely to be a woman than a man if you are reading these words. That’s good, because according to a study by University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) clutter is far more dangerous to women than men. It increases their stress hormone levels and creates higher risk of mortality. Don’t panic. There’s a lot you can do to declutter your life, and in a green way too.
Our recent monthly stay in Cracow, with only a week’s worth of stuff with us, inspired me to half our possessions once back home. Here’s some tips to go about getting rid of the suffocating clutter in a green way, i.e. not just bagging things into black bags and binning them.
We are evolutionary predisposed to collect things. In exactly the same way we crave sugary and fatty foods. In our lives as hunter-gatherers sugar and fat, as well as objects, were hard to come by. In modern life the situation is an exact opposite, there’s fatty and sugary foods, as well as easily available ‘stuff’ everywhere.
Our natural predisposition is not helped by clever and enticing advertising. Companies spend a lot of money to make you buy their products. They create a need and suggest that their product will help solve your problems. All three the need, the product and the problem are too often artificially created. You don’t have the need or the problem and so you don’t actually need the product.
WHEN TO DECLUTTER
Any time is good to declutter your life, but spring is a perfect time to do a clear out, as we naturally feel like letting in some more air into our homes and dusting things off after long winter. Take charge of your clutter and remove more than just dust!
WHERE TO START
See what you have and ask yourself these questions:
- When is the last time I used this?
- When am I likely to use it again?
- Do I really need this/so many of these?
- What is this?!
If something has been stored away for a long time and you forgot you had it, do you really need to keep it?
TIME TO START SORTING
Once you have decided what things you are going to get rid of it’s time to think ‘What am I going to do with all this?!’. I suggest to put things in piles, as follows:
- family and friends – this is likely to be one of the smallest piles,it’s not fair to pass on your clutter onto someone else. Unless you genuinely believe they need it.
- charity shop – clothes, shoes, books, CDs, DVDs, brick-a-brack (though not all charity shops are happy to accept these)
- for sale – there’s lots of websites, where you can advertise an unwanted item. It’s usually free to advertise, so you have nothing to lose.
play.com – specialises in books, games, DVDs and CDs
- freecycling – things you are happy to give away for free. This may be because you are feeling generous, or you don’t have time or energy to manage an online auction, or simply because they are not in a good enough condition to be sold. May people who take things from freecycling websites upcycle them and give them new life. You can advertise your freecycling items on webistes like this:
Swap in the City UK – clothes swapping website
Swishing – the Style Exchange – also a clothes swapping website
- rag collector – Yes, they still exist, but in a different shape. All your clothes, which are not good enough to wear can be used as rags for industrial cleaning. You can donate rags and textiles to your local charity shop, as long as you let them know they are rags (it saves them time when sorting).
- recyclables – things for your recycling bin.
- cables and electronics – there are websites, which may actually pay you for your old phones, routers and cables, because they can extract and recycle some parts of old equipment.
Don’t bin it, bring it – will find your local recycling collection point for white goods and electronic
Cash converters – buys second hand and damaged white goods and electronics
- arts and crafts supplies – have fun with your finds
- upcycling – is there something you need, which could be fashioned from something you have? Upcycling is a fun and creative process!
- out of date drugs – pharmacies accept these. Never bin or flush unused or out of date medicines.
- bin – this should be the smallest pile, other than the friends and family pile. Things like out of date make up.
If you are selling or freecycling things you will need to take pictures and upload them to a relevant website (see lists above). This does take some time, but depending on what you are getting rid off, may bring you some money.
Once you are all done, sit down and have a look around. You deserve a break after all the decluttering! Hopefully you have made some money from the unwanted items and now it’s time to treat yourself. Make sure to spend it on an experience and not new clutter!
MORE USEFUL LINKS
Follow my Decluttering Life pinterest board for more useful links and information.
Lots of great links and resources all to do with decluttering and organising your life and your belongings on The Association of Professional Declutterers & Organisers (UK) (yes, it is areal organisation!)
There are giants in online auction world – like eBay – but there are plenty of other websites offering the same service. Some specialise in particular items like retro objects or electronic equipment.
A great article on how to get your kids to clean up their room(s) and attempt to limit the clutter.
PS. All the links provided are for your convenience only. I am not being paid for any of them being included in this post.