My husband and I aren’t big fans of ‘stuff’, yet it still accumulates in our house over time. So, periodically, I like to purge all of our superfluous, useless ‘stuff’. These days, it seems like a lot of the clutter we have lying around is baby gear – adorable outfits that don’t fit during the right season, the swing that makes her scream, toys that she won’t be able to play with for another year… Then there are my clothes. I’ve changed sizes and shapes so much this year that I have piles of clothes (even shoes) that may never fit again. Luckily, we’ve gotten a lot of baby gear second-hand from my sisters and from friends as their children have outgrown clothes and toys and (even more luckily) we’ve been able to pass along or return items once our daughter outgrows them. However, there are a few things that can’t be re-used within our circle. Which leads me to my twelfth sustainable habit – de-clutter in a thoughtful and sustainable manner.
Step 1: Sell like-new items
Yesterday afternoon, I signed up to be a consignor at an OutGROW OutPLAY sale. I went to one of these sales when I was expecting and found a lot of very gently used items at a fraction of the cost of new. Buying post-consumer products is a great way to lessen your footprint, especially when it comes to baby and toddler products – which are often plastic and have a short cycle of use. I like the OutGROW OutPLAY sales, in particular, because they have standards for what they will accept from consignors. That means that you can expect clean items in good working order and clothing without tears or stains. The sale I’ve signed up for is a “women’s sale” where I plan on getting rid of all of the nice clothes I’ve bought over the past couple of years that are unlikely to fit again while they’re in style. I’m also going to sell some home decor items that have been sitting in boxes and cupboards since we moved in last summer – we clearly don’t use them. The nice thing about this sale, for me, is that I get a percentage of the proceeds from my items; more if I volunteer a few hours of my time to help out at the sale. Now I don’t feel so badly parting ways with that dress I got for a wedding that cost so much that I feel obligated to wear it again even though it doesn’t fit! I can also choose to donate any of my items that don’t get sold. In my area, there are a number of OutGROW OutPLAY sales every year; which means that I can hang on to that box of baby Christmas outfits and winter outerwear for a few months and sell them in the fall. Of course, you could always have a garage sale or sell your items online – but this option works best for me.
Step 2: Donate less like-new items
I’m still left with clothing and items that don’t meet the guidelines/aren’t in season for the OutGROW OutPLAY sale. Anything that is still in good condition is going in a bag and getting dropped off at the nearest Goodwill (or Value Village…or the Salvation Army thrift store…). Before donating used items, please check to see if there is a donation policy and ensure that your items will/can be accepted!!
Step 3: Re-purpose not-even-remotely like-new items
There are some items that cannot be donated…I’m looking at you, husband’s ratty old stained t-shirts! This is were you need to get a bit creative. A lot of fabric items can be used as rags or wipes (socks are fantastic dusters). This may not, however, be the best option for items with a sentimental attachment (read: concert t-shirts). I’ve had some success in the past, turning several “most favourite in the world, you can’t possibly get rid of it” t-shirts into new-ish items; for example, an apron (that allowed me to cut off the offending pit stains) and a microwaveable bean bag (that allowed me to cut off a huge hole). I think there may also be a t-shirt pillow or two in the future. I also have a couple of chipped dishes that will be making their way into the bottom of pots in lots of pieces (for drainage) over the next week.
It’s a work in progress, but I’m hoping to de-clutter without sending anything to landfill!