It seems like everyone I know – both in the real world and online – is in the midst of a decluttering frenzy. While I one hundred percent support decluttering and simplifying one’s life, allow me to be the voice of reason/party-pooper who says “slow down, tiger, let’s think about this”.
There is an art to decluttering – and 50 million web articles to help you with it – but after visiting our local tip treasure-market on the weekend, I realised we could do all with a refresher.
We scored at the tip. Like, massively. For $20, we got a full kitchen for the cubby house, heaps of Duplo and Lego plates (which are $20 each in the shops), Little People, jewellery, some storage, three busted kids’ bikes (which hubby swears will become one that works… watch this space) and more. Thrifty bargain hunters like us were wheeling out trolley-loads of stuff and they were letting it go for a pittance.
“Luv,” said one of the toothless vollies, when I remarked on our haul, “we’ve gotta get rid of it. This time of year, we can’t keep up with the stuff coming in. People dump Christmas present still in their wrapping, clothes with tags on, almost-new furniture.”
Why the sudden need for decluttering?
Perhaps it’s subconscious guilt for the extravagance of Christmas, perhaps it’s a desire for a simpler, leaner life, maybe it’s because finally us overworked mums have three days to ourselves to get life in order, and the fastest way to feel we’ve done that is by rationalising the linen cupboard. Or maybe it’s just cos the sales are on and you think, bugger it, I want a new sofa. Whatever it is, the post-Christmas clean-out is becoming a great Aussie tradition.
Whatever the cause, decluttering is definitely a good thing. But there are some strategies and rules that must be followed.
The rules of decluttering
- Don’t throw out shit you’re going to end up buying again.
- Don’t throw out anyone else’s stuff without checking with them first.
- Don’t throw anything out unless you’ve tried to find it a home or recycle it first (see below).
- Wait a week before you remove anything from your home completely.
- Declutter in small, manageable sections.
- Don’t start decluttering a section unless you have time to finish the job.
- Don’t do it when you’re feeling emotional or nostalgic.
- Don’t declutter when you’re feeling ruthless or vengeful.
- Do declutter when you’re in a good mood and have no distractions.
- Declutter all year round, not just after Christmas.
How to get rid of stuff
The Recyclables pile includes things that are broken beyond repair or use by anyone but which nevertheless are made of recyclable materials or materials which will not degrade in a landfill. These objects can be placed in the blue box or taken to a recycling centre.
Source: Dejunking: a Tool for Clutter-Busting, with thanks to Linda for the lead.
Although it may seem cathartic to get in there and simply throw things away, in my experience, if you don’t take a strategic approach to decluttering, you are more than likely to end up breaking rules 1 and 2 above.
What to do with it all?
Below, I have listed some ideas on what to do with common items you might be tempted to put in the Tossers pile. I’d love it if you could help me out by adding to the list in the comments. I’ll update the post with all your brilliant ideas as we go and hopefully this will be the bestest “How do I recycle?” list on the planet. Ever.
- Furniture: charity shop or donate to someone who can use it.
- Broken old furniture: disassemble and recycle any parts or use them to make something new (and if you can’t, seek someone who can).
- Blankets, towels, sheets that are too crappy to donate: your local animal shelter will love them (thanks Suz).
- Washing machines and appliances: contact a repairs service and donate the machines as parts.
- Old t-shirts: check out my ideas here.
- Busted pots and pans: use for playing in the garden, as musical instruments or donate to a kindy.
- Boring photos you took on an overseas holiday: if they don’t have your drunk mates in them, just monuments and quirky street signs, donate them to a school or teacher.
- Old medicines: return them to the pharmacy for safe disposal.
- Ancient barbecues: use as plant pots, my friends Megs and Haydn grew lettuces and herbs in an old barbie!