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Decluttering in the New Year

The presents have been opened, the holidays have passed, the guests have left and now you’re left with the clutter. Below is a guide for helping you remove the clutter from your home.

Step #1- Edit the Gifts

Here are 2 questions to ask yourself any time you allow something new into your home.

Do I want it/ need it?

We aren’t in control of what someone gives to us; so ask yourself, do you really want it/ need it? It’s okay to say no. Here are your options:

1.If you know the person well enough and you’re comfortable to ask about returning it, then this can be a great option.

2. You can choose to donate it or find another home for that item for someone that will appreciate it.

Do I have space for this item?

If the answer is no, then you may want to consider the "One for One" rule. Sometimes, keeping what we want means making space for it by removing something we don’t love or use anymore. If this is worrisome for you, consider this: only 1/5th of the items in our home are used in “heavy rotation”.

These steps can be really hard to do with children. You can try rationalizing with them, but it may be a decision you need to make for them when they aren’t around. You can also place the items you chose to remove for them into a “holding box”. Keep the items in the holding box for a fixed amount of time and if your child asks about them in that time period, then perhaps you may choose to keep them. If they don’t ask about those items within your chosen time frame, then you can feel at peace with disposing, donating, selling or finding a new home for them.

Step #2- Decluttering & Removal of Unwanted Items

Decluttering can be difficult for two reasons:

1) it can be hard to emotionally let go of items,

2) it can be difficult to remove those items from your home.

With some items, it’s easy to know when you’re ready to let go of something (i.e. you don’t love it and don’t use it). However, it can be hard to know when to let go of something- that’s when the aid of professional organizer can be helpful, as they can guide you through that process of understanding the emotional attachments we have to our belongings. Decluttering is a wonderful opportunity to connect items you don't want or use anymore, to charities and people in your community- which feels great! Below are some ideas for removal for items that you’re completely confident and ready to let go of. There are three main categories: reuse, recycle and trash.

1) Reuse

a. Donation

i. Find charities in your community that are meaningful to YOU. Donations commonly end up in thrift stores where your donated items are sold to benefit the charity. Be aware that if you want to have an accurate tax receipt, you’ll need to make an inventory first and assess the value yourself. Some charities will require you to enter your receipt online (i.e. Goodwill).

b. Gifting

i. Perhaps you know someone that can you use the items you no longer have use for. You can also reach out to your community Facebook groups to see if there is a need for items.

c. Sell

Be warned that selling items can be an impediment to truly getting rid of items. I recommend giving yourself a timeline to sell something, if it doesn’t sell then find a meaningful place to either donate it or gift it.

i. Thread Up (selling items of gently used clothing that is less than 5 years old. Shipping items to them is free.)

ii. Facebook Marketplace

iii. Once Upon a Child (selling children's toys, shoes, clothes and baby gear)

iv. Community Facebook Groups.

v. Garage Sales

2) Recycle

Below is a list of interesting recycling opportunities for items that have traditionally ended up in landfills.

i. Small electronics

Staples accepts many small electrics, see a complete list on the link below.

ii. Batteries

1. Many retail locations such as Staples and Home Depot will take rechargeable batteries.

2. Single use batteries are trickier; however, some counties such as Lake County, FL do accept these for curbside pick-up.

iii. Markers

1. Crayola

iv. Paint

1. Habitat for Humanity (brand new un-used paint)

2. Open paint

a. Most counties offer paint recycling in limited quantities at a single drop off.

b. Check with your local theatre. I was able to donate all of my extra paint recently to a theatre group- they even came and picked it up!

v. Car Seats

1. Target does a car seat trade in twice annually!

vi. Used Athletic Shoes

Finally consider how your item could be repurposed and another use may be possible in your own home or someone else's. If you're not sure, google it! For example, I had a number of tired pillows that had gone flat, no amount of washing or fluffing was brining these back to life. So after consulting the internet, I found the wonderful idea to use the stuffing to create new pillows. I was able to combine 5 deflated queen pillows into 2 king sized pillows! I needed two new king pillows, so it saved me money.

3) Trash

Some items you're ready to let go of may not be appropriate for donation or reuse. Larger items require you to call ahead of your trash pick up day to ensure they are picked up. Always consult your area trash guidelines to ensure you're disposing items responsibly and appropriately. Below are the guidelines for Lake County, FL.

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