This post was written by new staff writer, Lauren James. Lauren is a former preschool teacher, and mom of 1 super smart 8 year old. She and her family are on a journey to downsize their home. You can find more from Lauren at Raising Roots.
My family is about to embark on a new chapter in our lives. We’re writing the epilogue right now, and I’m trying to reconcile two battling issues. The first is that we strive to live with little impact on our planet, we recycle, turn off the lights, keep the heat low, and generally live pretty “greenâ€. The other is that in a month we hope to put our house up for sale, which means I’m going through 11 years of stuff, 8 of those years have had a kid in them, so the stuff we have is gargantuan. The task of downsizing our stuff is daunting, and if I try to do it all within our wishes to be ecologically friendly, it’s darn near impossible, but I think I’ve found a happy medium.
4 tips for Green Decluttering
1)Consignment- Earn while you purge clutter.
There are bunches of things here that wish I could hold a yard sale and have it all gone, because they are worth something, and I don’t mind spending some time tagging things when I know that after they are sold I’ll get a solid check. The reality of our yard sales is that, even with advertising, we never get a ton of traffic, and only get rid of maybe 10% of the stuff. Every year I consign a bunch of my daughter’s clothes at a twice yearly sale, and I get 60% and a local (wonderful) preschool gets the other 40%. Not bad. This year I’m tagging more than just clothes. I’m going through closets and storage and if it’s worth more than $5 I’m tagging it, all the tagged stuff is in a pile, which will soon be gone. The beauty is that anything that doesn’t get sold gets donatedâ€¦ so I’ll get a check, and never have to see any of it again!
2) Freecycle- Give it away for free!
This is my FAVORITE way to get rid of things that I don’t want, aren’t worth selling, but are still useful, or could be useful. Sometimes I even post something that might be worth something, but I can’t be bothered to think about it. I post an offer on freecycle, and then someone emails me, I put it on my porch and give them my address (or plan to meet in a public place if I lived in the middle of nowhere) and within a few days (or hours!) it’s gone. I’ve gotten rid of old tripods, electronics, mops, extra notebooks, and even stuff from my pantry I didn’t need. You can’t ask for $$ on freecycle, and there are some rules about what you can post, but it’s wonderful for getting rid of most things!
3) Donation- Earn a tax write off for your old stuff.
There are always cards in my mailbox from charity organizations that will come and pick up stuff, which is easy to set up if you don’t mind having a pile waiting till the day they come. Sometimes I can’t wait and just want it all OUT so I load it into the car and take it to Goodwill! The nice thing is you get a receipt for a tax deduction! Just make sure you follow the rules about donations and deductions. Make sure to take photos for tax purposes, or use It’s Deductible to keep track of your donations-they really do add up!
4) Garbage- Toss out your junk.
Sometimes you just have to toss it. Something that seems usable, or could be fixed may take too much time to get rid of in a green way. Dumping it at the donation center isn’t an option, and no one bites on Freecycle, so into the trash it goes. If you’ve seen Hoarders you understand. I HAVE to put the house on the market in a month. A few magazines may end up in the trash instead of the recycling bin. Sometimes a perfectly useful kitchen tool gets tossed, games missing pieces may all go in the garbage. It’s my last resort but sometimes I have to allow myself a little leeway, and not feel guilty about it. My plan is to be much more careful about what we bring into our lives moving forward.
Using these four ways of getting rid of the STUFF, I’m hoping that we’ll be much less cluttered, and come March, the house will go on the market (and sell in 2 weeks!!â€”a girl can wish, right?)
What’s your favorite way to get rid of stuff?