Try to be honest with yourself in this respect: that pullover you have worn out for the last 20 years is likely not going to be the first, second or even third choice of anyone else, and the cracked flowerpot you have kept because it was a keepsake from a family member might hold no interest whatsoever to anyone.
I’m afraid there will be things you simply need to throw away, but that is part of the process. Don’t forget: the main exercise is to let go, and only in second place you want to make sure some of your things find a new home. While knowing that your stuff will be used by others will make you feel good, some of your things simply might not find a new home at all. You have to accept that. However, many might, and that is what this blog is about, so let’s have a look at your options, once you have a pile of stuff you want to let go.
Some of the things you have singled out might have monetary value, and that was likely what has kept you from throwing them out in the first place! So why not try and sell them? There are multiple ways of doing so: in many places you have free weekly papers where you can advertise your objects for free and someone will come and pick it up themselves. There are online options to sell things like craigslist.org or gumtree.com (some countries only) where you can give away or try and sell. More structured approaches can be found with ebay.com and amazon.com (or their national equivalents in different regions) and similar platforms that sell their own products and hold a space for private sellers on the side. There are specialised selling platforms for CDs, DVDs and books (e.g. musicmagpie.co.uk) as well.
Apart from advertising or online selling of your things, you could – of course – simply ask specialised sellers around your area if they are interested in your objects: think antiquaries, collectors shops, etc.
Here’s a little trick I have been using for some time and it seems to work for a lot of things: once I have taken books and DVDs out of their storage/hiding place, I keep them where guests can see them and pick them up. Whenever I see interest, I ask them if they want to keep it. Presto: one less item (or more) on my ‘letting go’ pile. In those cases where someone is really interested in taking some of your clutter off your hands because they like it very much, don’t hesitate!
And of course, if you know for a fact that someone had an eye on one of your ‘objects d’art’, why not make it into a gift next time you see them? A word of caution: you want to avoid giving things away ‘just because they might make a good gift and you don’t want to keep them around’. That is just dumping your stuff on some unsuspecting friend, and that is not very nice, is it now?
Upcycling & Recycling
Some things you find in your ‘letting go’ box might benefit from creative reuse. Imagine one of those giant wardrobes that were all the rage in your grandma’s time, but turned out to be much too large to fit into your flat: you might want to reconfigure its basic structure to fit into your space, or you could potentially make two smaller pieces of furniture out of it. Upcycling is really very similar to recycling, but while recycling is really about the base materials, upcycling is taking something useless (like a wardrobe that has been sitting in the attic for 15 years) and turning it into something useful again.
If you have stuff that you cannot sell, give away or upcycle at all, you could still think of recycling it. There are two ways of going about this: either you make sure your things are picked up by a recycling station, shop or other outfit (the quick and easy way) or you could go there on your own and drop your stuff off. Both work, but usually you will get very little money, if any, for your things.
I would strongly advise against the common conception that you could get creative with your clutter. There is a reason these things have turned into clutter in the first place, remember? Do you know the saying “the road to hell is paved with good intentions”? The same applies to cluttering up your home: your recyclable things will just return to the waiting area they have been sitting in for the longest time, be forgotten and become new clutter for you to worry about. Don’t even think about it.
I am listing donations at the end of these elaborations; this is not because I deem donations the least useful, but rather because it usually is where things end up when none of the above is working. However, you might feel strongly about donations and start from a point of ‘giving’ rather than ‘making it work for me’, and that is absolutely wonderful. The previous options start from the idea that you want to get the best use for yourself out of things you already own, a very understandable and logical approach. But then, you might just want to help others with your belongings, and then giving things to charity shops might just be the right way for you. While this is a simple enough thing in the UK, other countries aren’t always as blessed with such options. Still, there are outfits like Kringloopwinkel (Belgium), Emmaus (France), and similar in other countries.
The Last Recourse
After all these options there is one last consideration to keep in mind: it is entirely possible that you on’t find a meaningful way to make sure your things serve a proper purpose for someone else. The trick here is to make sure you draw the line somewhere and allow yourself to reassign those things to the rubbish bin rather than hanging on forever.
Ask the ClutterMeister
Ideas to help clear away the mess in our homes and in our minds.
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Hi, my name is Tilo Flache. My current mission: help my clients declutter mind and space.
This blog contains pointers for your journey towards a happier living experience.