Got time off?
End of year means holidays for some folks. While some of us are of braving the holiday traffic and crowded beaches, others are at home tackling the mess that results from a year of living and working before the relatives arrive for the holiday celebrations. Cluttering, according to organising guru Christina Scalise is:
“Clutter is the physical manifestation of unmade decisions fueled by procrastination”
Decluttering is good for the mind, body and soul. Anyone who has seen an episode of the tv series Hoarders will agree that sometimes our excessive stuff can hinder our ability to live our lives in a happy, content and functional way. While you may not have a house packed from floor to ceiling with ‘stuff’ (or old pumpkins…. which was something I saw on one episode of this show) there is probably no denying that there is one part of your home that may have a few ‘unmade decisions’ stashed in it.
Starting the process.
It can be pretty overwhelming to tackle a messy room. Quite often than not we aren’t ready to make the final call on these unmade decisions. Many ‘clutter’ items have sentimental value or hold a specific meaning to us or symbolise a version of ourselves that we desire to be and perhaps haven’t had time to fulfil. It can sometimes be difficult to identify the clutter in our own homes for the emotional pull that it holds over us.
Sara Burford, the author of House Detox suggests that clutter can be defined as anything that:
- doesn’t have a current or foreseen use or has gone past its use by date.
- you don’t like the look of (including unwanted gifts)
- blocks, covers, or spills over into other areas of the house which would otherwise be utilised for other uses
- is broken and either can’t or isn’t going to be mended
- prevents you from living in an easily accessible, organised and structured way.
Now that you have identified what constitutes clutter let’s look at the best method for shifting the unwanted stuff. Burford suggests that you let go of the idea of getting all your decluttering done in one go. Attempting to tackle a whole house in one weekend or holiday break will likely just wear you out and result in a house that looks like a tornado went through the middle of it. She suggests that you shed your ideas of being the ‘perfect’ spring cleaner and tackle an area that is achievable for you in your given time. While I can’t share the whole book with you here (you can always buy a copy) I will share Sara’s fab questions to ask yourself through the decision making process:
- Why am I keeping this?
- Do I really want, like, or need this?
- Does this item deserve a permanent place in my home/life?
- What will I gain by keeping this?
- What will I gain by letting this go?
- Does this fit in with my life and who I am now?
- Am I keeping this for me or for someone else’s sake?
- Am I only keeping this because it looks good to other people?
- How many of this particular item of I actually need?
Decluttering isn’t always eco-friendly.
Let’s face it. Whatever has come into our home will have to go somewhere when it leaves our home. Throughout the year Australian charities spend thousands of dollars each week disposing of rubbish and unsalable items “donated” or dumped at their op shops and donation bins. Money that should be helping those in need, not spent on rubbish removal. The Christmas / New Year holiday season is when the problem is at its worst. If you use your Christmas and New Year holiday period to declutter be sure that you do it in a responsible way and try to give your unwanted goodies the most appropriate new home.
When donating to charity you should always do the following in order to be a responsible donor:
- Ask yourself, would you give this item to a friend in need (ie it’s clean, undamaged, good quality)
- Donate direct to the op shop during operating hours or call to arrange pick-up for larger items
- Put rubbish and damaged items in your rubbish bin.
If you have large items like sofas and sporting equipment that you no longer require online sales sites are a great way to re-home your goodies and make a little cash. You could list your items on:
If you would prefer to trade or give the items away you can use sites that work on gifting, or barter systems like:
Where it can start getting tricky to ‘eco-mindedly’ declutter is when you get to broken, soiled or non functional items. Many of us hold on to items like this because we either don’t know how to dispose of them, or would like to have them repaired but don’t know where to get this done. If you are keen to have your item repaired you are best to search your local area for specific repairs. It can be a little daunting but in my personal experience if you ask around long enough you will find someone who can repair most items (be careful with electrical items, it’s a good idea to ring the manufacturer for details or use an authorised repairer). If you can’t find what you are after list the repair details on Gumtree and you might find someone that way. For all other items Planet Ark have developed an awesome app that helps you work out where to responsibly dispose of items in your local area. Recycle Smart is free to own and provides comprehensive information for every council area in Australia and enables residents to search for both kerbside and drop off services for a huge range of materials on their phone or tablet.
Obviously the best way forward is to avoid the clutter from the start. Establish open an honest lines of communication with friends and family and be sure that they know what it is that you value. Avoiding the gifting ‘necessity’ at festive times by having a discussion about what you want and need can help reduce the clutter. Stocking stuffers may seem like a nice way to show someone that you care, but realistically you are just wasting money, cluttering up the recipients home, and buying into a waste of natural resources.