When I turned 18 and was getting ready to head to college, I did something extreme. I went through my childhood bedroom, put almost everything I owned in garbage bags, and hauled it down the street to a dumpster. I did this for a few reasons. First, because high school was terrible and I was ready to say goodbye. Second, because I have had a life long fear of clutter and disorderliness. The only thing I regret getting rid of that day is my childhood Teddy bear, Tofy (named after Tofu). I do, however, massively regret how I got rid of all that stuff. I should have donated it.
Something that I didn’t really learn until adulthood was the importance of making sure my items were reused rather than dumped directly into a landfill. My recent collaboration with Savers® (or Value Village® as some of you may know it, depending on where you live) reminded me of a lot of the benefits of thrifting and vintage shopping, so I’m going to share a few of my decluttering tips here.
If you’re not familiar, Savers® and Value Village® are a family of thrift stores committed not only to environmentalism but also to community involvement. The tolls of fast fashion are kind of mind boggling. We now have the ability to run out and buy a t-shirt for $3.99, which is great. The downside, quality is often questionable and because of their low price, people are often fine to wear things a few times then throw them away. Every year North Americans deposit 12 million tons of textiles directly into landfills. That’s not only a lot of trash, it takes a TON of water to make these clothes (a typical t-shirt takes about 700 gallons, jeans about 1800 gallons). It’s well known that my friend Emily and I are big fans of vintage furniture and clothes, which to be fully honest is mostly because vintage items add so much character and uniqueness to a home. But until I met the team at Savers® , I wasn’t aware of how dire the clothing and housewares waste issue was.
Below I’m going to share a few of my tips on how I like to declutter. As part of Savers® “Neat-ish” campaign, I’m helping spread the word about reuse and taking the pain out of the decluttering and donating process.
Tip 1: Be Ruthless. I’m pretty aggressive with my decluttering process. People tend to be a little more sentimental than they should be about items that have no inherent sentimental value. When you’re looking at your clothing and housewares, think about how often you use them and if they might be more helpful to someone else. For example, if you have stuff you’ve never worn and have had for six months, GET RID OF THEM. For example, I bought some bright aqua sweatpants four months ago, solely based on color, without trying them on. I held onto them because I LOVED the color, but I never wore them because they were too big and made me feel gross. So I got rid of them. Don’t keep things around that aren’t useful! Make space for the things you actually want and use!
Tip 2: Start by Making a Huge Mess. In order to create order, you first need to create a certain amount of chaos. I always start by taking everything out of my closet, armful by armful and creating “Yes, No,” and “Maybe” piles. The “Maybe” pile is your real saving grace here because it makes the whole process less scary and lets you ruminate on whether you want to keep those items or not while you sort through everything else. Usually by the end of the process my entire “Maybe” pile ends up in the “No” pile.
Tip 3: Make It Fun. Dancing and singing definitely makes decluttering more fun. Other things that make it fun: inviting a friend over to gossip with you while you do it, listening to a podcast (I like “Throwing Shade” and “This American Life”), or just listening to music and drinking wine. Anything to make it feel like a fun, cleansing activity that celebrates the newfound freedom your newly decluttered space will bring you.
Tip 4: Take Your Stuff to the Right Place. Make sure to know where your beloved items are going. When you declutter responsibly at Savers®, you know your items are going to a good place where they will go to good use. Not only does Savers® purchase your items from nonprofits providing them with revenue, they also make sure that items not able to be resold are recycled. So you can be sure that if you donate here your items are either going back into circulation or are being recycled responsibly.
Tip 5: Wrap It Up! If your items show up damaged at the donation center, they’re basically useless and it’s kind of like throwing them in the garbage. So take a minute to wrap up breakable items in newspaper so they don’t shatter on the trip. Another common issue I learned about from Savers is pairing items (earrings, mittens, shoes, etc). Do you want a single unpaired shoe? Neither does anyone shopping at a thrift store! (But even if you only have one shoe, you can still donate it to Savers®)
Tip 6: Make Decluttering a Ritual. I am constantly shopping and bringing new items into my home. Mainly because it’s my job but also because I love trying out new things. This constant flow of goods motivated me to create a rule for myself: for every object that comes into my home, I give something away. I give things to my family and friends every week (ie fancy lamps, beautiful trays, etc) and everything else I donate to a nonprofit at Savers®. I want to make sure that the things I love end up being used by someone who also loves them.
I was raised by parents who are very environmentally conscious. So much so that whenever I go to their house I feel like a loser for not doing as much as they do for the planet (composting, water capture/reuse, etc). But there are certain things, such as reusing our goods responsibly, that are easy to do and a no brainer. To learn more about my collaboration with Savers® and the Neat-ish campaign, head on over to the Savers® site.
This post is a paid collaboration with Savers®. The ideas and opinions expressed are genuine and my own. Collaborations like this one fund this site and social media content.
TVI, Inc. d/b/a Savers® is a for-profit professional fundraiser. Visit savers.com/donate to learn more.