When the weather gets warmer most people tend to have a stronger desire to shed layers from their wardrobe and their life. It almost feels like a rite of passage to enjoy the spring season. This imperative reminds me of Marie Kondo’s book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. ‘The joy of tidying up,’ according to Kondo, is an act of responsible decluttering and choosing to keep only items that spark joy in us. I’m a fan of Kondo’s approach to mindfulness, and, based on how popular her book is, it seems that a lot of people are as well.
Though, as a natural optimist, but a part-time realist, I’m concerned about the dark side of this approach. Decluttering is freeing, but decluttering without a plan can be destructive as it creates piles of unwanted “trash” that could end up in landfills. I’m not sure Kondo wants us to mindlessly declutter our life and throw away all the items that no longer bring us happiness. For me, her approach centers around being mindful of the items we own and loving them too. If they no longer spark joy, how can we think of a way to repurpose such items so that it may bring back that loving feeling again?
But what happens if there is no way to repurpose those items? In this situation, I try to think of ways to remove it from my life in a mindful, sustainable, and conscious way. I think of responsible decluttering, selling, and donating as:
- First, learn to be gentle and take care of the things I own. When I use them to the point of repairing, I’ll learn how to mend them.
- When it comes time to declutter, I’ll decide what I can sell. I can make extra cash and be mindful of the lifecycle of an item to keep them out of landfills.
- Next, I’ll donate things that I can’t sell. I try to be mindful of what I decide to donate so that my “clutter” doesn’t become someone else’s trash.
- Then, I’ll recycle what I can’t sell or donate. And, the rest goes in the waste bin (hopefully the pile is a lot smaller at this stage).
- Lastly, I’m a lot more mindful of what I buy now. This gives me a chance to love what I already own, be conscious about my purchases, and reduce what I declutter in the future.
Here are a few resources you can use for responsible decluttering, selling, and donating your items:
- For clothes, musical instruments, bikes, art, collectibles, and the likes, you can schedule a pickup by calling The Salvation Army or Big Brothers Big Sisters Foundation.
- For furniture, appliances, houseware, and building materials, you can schedule a pickup with Habitat for Humanity.
- You can also drop off donations at your local shelter, community center, school, and thrift store.
- Used outdoor gear (any condition, any brand) such as clothes, hiking boots, and more can be donated to NorthFace’s Clothes the Loop program.
- Donate books to your local library, community centers, and bookstores. I also love my neighborhood’s Little Free Library.
- Give clothes a new life with Columbia’s ReThreads program.
- Trade in your used Patagonia clothing or gear and get credit to use in their store through the Patagonia Worn Wear trade-in program.
- Extend the life of your used shoes by donating them to Nisolo and their shoe reclamation program. You can get $30 in credit for each pair of shoes donated.
- Recycle your used athletic shoes (any condition, any brand) to Nike’s resuse-a-show program. They’ll turn used shoes into new shoes, apparel, and outdoor sport surfaces.
- Recycle old jeans (any condition, any brand) with Madewell’s Blue Jeans Go Green program and get $20 to use in store.
Have you done any decluttering, selling, and donating this season? If so, how have you given away your items to someone who might use it, appreciate it, and love it again?