One of the biggest things that can stand between the beautifully designed home you dream of and the reality … is clutter. When your home starts bursting at the seams it can become hard to get on top of any of it. Drawers spill out, so the stuff you want to put away starts to form it’s own little nest on the floor. Goodbye stunning rug you invested in and hello Paperwork Mountain.
In a UCLA study, clutter was found to create the same stress response in the people living in it as post-traumatic stress disorder in solders. Almost every Feng Shui book states that the starting point to building a restful, spiritual home is clearing out the clutter. I often find that when I start getting agitated a good drawer clear out puts my mood right back in the happy zone. I know, I’m weird.
My job often involves rooms or whole houses being cleared of their unloved items and I shudder when I think of the waste footprint I’m creating as it heads out the door.
But what the heck do you do with all that unwanted stuff without becoming another blot on the landscape? Just because something has finished it useful life with you, doesn’t mean it has finished it useful life. There are really only two main ways to get it out the door and keep it out the bin.
The quickest way to move stuff along in its life journey is to give it away. There are few different avenues to take mattering on the condition of the item. This approach should mean you are clutter free by the end of a weekend with no more effort than driving it all to the dump.
Charity Shops take almost everything that is sellable. Things they normally avoid are damaged clothes, towels, duvets, cosmetics and electrical goods. If you have large furniture you can call and arrange a collection. One of the hard things to get rid of is Upholstered furniture. Chairs and sofas must have a Fire Code tag on the item for the charity to be able to re-sell it. These can be sewn on the underside of the piece or under the cushions. Have a hunt around for that fellow because without it you can only legally skip the furniture. It drives me nuts that this basic step put in place by a manufacture could save millions of tons of reusable furniture going to landfill.
Freecycle and local Facebook networks work well in turning one man’s junk into another man’s treasure. Post up pictures and description of the items you wish gone and a ball park idea of where people are to collect them. Once you get some offers from people who are happy to take it way sort out the detail between you and wave good bye to your unwanted clutter.
Recycling schemes. A number of high street brands now run recycling schemes to “close the consumer loop”. H&M will take a carrier bag of textiles and exchange them for a £5.00 discount voucher. This can be anything textile in any condition. Ripped t-shirt? Don’t worry, it will be broken down and turned in to loft lagging. Marks and Spencer’s runs a similar scheme called Shwopping but only take resalable clothes and don’t offer vouchers in compensation.
reGain is an app that work the same way as H&M. It gives you highstreet vouchers for each box of textiles. You need to fill the box with 10 or more items and drop it off at a local collection point.
MAC has mini recycling scheme. Bring in 6 empty containers of their make-up and you get a free lipstick.
CEX are your “go to” place if you are looking to rehome unwanted tech, video games or DVDs. Just take it all in and they will give you a price for them. The older the model or title the lower the price. Take it either as vouchers (which are normally worth more) or straight up cash.
The Slow Way
This normally covers the way you can turn those unwanted items into money in your pocket, however it can take a little longer to move the stuff out of your home and into someone else’s.
Car Boot, NCT Nearly New sales & Yard Sales help you become your own stall holder and sell on your unwanted items. This can take a little bit of effort as you have to sort everything out beforehand then get yourself to the location of the sale. I find this is a good way of mentally parting with stuff that you might be tempted to hold on to because “It might be worth something”. As soon as you stick a price tag on it your heart doesn’t want it back in your house.
Fashion Reboot is a great concept set up by two fashion bloggers Erica Davis and Ciara Elliott. It pops up all over the country as a pop up sale for clothes. If your wardrobe is heavy under the weight of gorgeous items that just don’t do you any favours then this could be the option for you. You pay for a “plot” and fill a rail with all you goodies and watch them head out the door with other happy shoppers. These evenings are always great fun, Just watch out you don’t come home with more than you took!
Sell at auction is a great old school way of going. Sotheby’s and Bonhams handle the collectable stuff, so if that Monet is cluttering up the hallway they might be the ones to call. Many towns have a local auction house that will sell on anything antique, jewellery or collectable. They can value it – some have open valuation days where you can bring your items in – and then they will handle the sale for you. They of course take a fee for doing so and it really matters who’s in the auction room on the day as to what price you will achieve for it.
eBay is the King of the online auction. As I’m all for an easy life I have taken to putting items on there at a “Buy it Now Price” with “Make an Offer” for 30 days. As there is time and fees involved with selling on ebay. Personally, I can’t be bothered with selling things for 99p – life is just too short.
Individual shops and dealers. If you have something you know might be of interest in a local antique or retro shop, give them a call and tell them. They won’t pay retail for it as they need to make a profit on it, but they will give you something and take it away.
It can sometimes take a little bit more effort to dispose of your unwanted stuff responsibly but by doing so we close the loop on the closed loop economy that helps the world turn round in a more kind way.