Feb 18, 2015

Clutter busting 101

I see January and February as a time to start cleaning. I don't mean dusting and vacuuming, I mean decluttering. After the holidays and things are put away, and you get back to a regular schedule of work, you start to notice all the little things that you've collected that you probably don't need. Here is my list of obvious ones and I'm sure you have your own.  It's cathartic. You literally don't need to see things you don't use.  You don't have to fill your drawers just because you have a drawer. It's nice to have a little empty space. It's even nicer to know that someone else might be able to use what you don't.

1. Eyeglasses with the wrong prescription. Someone else could be using them and you're not likely to wear those frames again with new lenses anyway.  Donate them.

2. Pens and markers with no ink. Eventually pen ink dries out. Are you going to refill it? I think not. Toss. 

3. Food storage containers you never use. You bought a set or were gifted a set, or you collect them by cleaning out margarine, deli, yogurt, and other containers. Keep what you use – there are likely only a few all the time – and recycle or donate the rest. I made the switch to glass, which is so much healthier, BPA free notwithstanding, and I use about six. The extra six, donated to Salvation Army. Wow, lots of space got free.

4. Old clothing that no longer fits. The age old adage. You will lose weight, you will gain weight so keep these around in case you need them… forget it. Most of the stuff does come back in style but do you want in wasting space in your closet for 10 years? With all the new online options and local "closet" stores you could sell or consign your clothes and have money for something fun.

5. Soy sauce, catsup, mustard, and salt packets, plastic forks and spoons. So, you ordered out or picked up, and you brought back how many packets each time? Or brought home enough temporary silverware to have a years worth of picnics, but they still rest in the little plastic bags with the napkins. They take up a lot of space, you never use them, so ditch them.  

6. Rubber bands. Why are you keeping these? I pack mine up into a Ziploc bag and give it to Goodwill or simply recycle at the local center.

7. Old remote controls and phones.  if you don't use it, recycle it. So many things are controlled by your smart phone, that remote controls are becoming obsolete. If your device doesn't work, ditch that too. For old phone models now that you've upgraded, clear the data off, and recycle.  Circuit boards can be reused. My post office as envelopes where you can actually mail your phone -  at no charge – to an organization that will use the parts and recycle the rest.

8. Mismatched socks. Somehow they always get lost in the laundry. So, I have a small basket in the closet where I leave individuals. If two months go by and I haven't found the mate, they get donated to USAgain clothing or a local Goodwill to become dust rags. Of course, if you're clever, you could make a dog toy, fill them with old pieces of soap and lather up, use them for kids crafts, but if not… 

9. Kitchen appliances you never use a.k.a. waffle makers, Slurpie mixers, food grinders etc...   If  you don’t use it, don’t give up valuable storage space for it. Either recycle it, donate it, or consign it.

10. Random cords an extra wall chargers you’ve been holding onto because you’re not sure what they're for Lots of products come with extra cords, lots of times your phones have cords you reuse, all the extras... You don't need them. Send them off to an electronics recycling or a donation center.  Same applies to all of those power transformers where you've lost the appliance or it no longer works.

11. Magazines more than 2 months old. Exceptions would be issues you really, really love and refer back to often. Sometimes the recipes are what you need to take out, but most images and information is now digital.I actually bring these to my library and people who don't have readers or smart phones can enjoy 

12. Old makeup and sunscreen. These things have a shelflife. Imagine slathering 2-year-old cream on yourself. If you haven't used it in over a year, or if you can't remember the last time you used it, dump it.

13. Shoes. As a category there are some easy tosses, a) shoes that pinch your big toe, B) Shoes that are uncomfortable, c) those that no longer project your style and d) Shoes that you haven’t worn in five years.  You change, styles change. If they don't it's your feet or your lifestyle, so donate or consign them.

14.  Greeting cards. Unless they are very special to you, as in from your parents or with notes from your family, these can be recycled easily. I keep some for a few weeks, then I recycle them. If they're really pretty, cut the front off and use it as a gift tag.