What will you hold on to from your past?
Laurel recently graduated from college and shares her story of refreshing the room in which she grew up.
“Where am I going to fit all this stuff?” I wondered, thinking of the eight packed suitcases that were scattered throughout my parents’ house. When I graduated from college last month, I knew that it signified the end of an era. For all of my memorable years, I had been a student, and for the previous four years, all of my trips home had been temporary. I’d never brought home more than a couple of suitcases at a time, but suddenly the belongings I had accumulated while I was away at school needed a home in a room still full of remnants of my childhood.
I spent the first days of my last summer vacation cleaning out my bedroom. I donated boxes of clothes I hadn’t recently worn and a dollhouse I’d forgotten I owned. I recycled old papers from high school whose grades no longer carried the weight they once had. When I came across items with sentimental value, I asked myself, “Will I bring this to my first apartment?” If my answer was no, it was put aside to be donated or gotten rid of. If I wasn’t able to part with something I discovered, I vowed to revisit it when the time came to move out on my own. I saved pictures and other memorabilia, but limited myself to a single box. After two days of purging and cleaning, there was empty space on my shelves and room in my dresser, and the unpacking finally began.
The process of moving back home after living on my own in college was made easier by the reclamation of my space. I revitalized old picture frames with recent photos, parted with stuffed animals no longer in need of my love, and made my bedroom feel like home again. Receiving my diploma was not just the commencement of my life as a college student, it was the start of a transition to a new phase. When I do move out on my own, I will be grateful to be surrounded only by things that I will be glad to have come with me. Nobody dreams of moving in with their parents after college graduation, but at the very least I won’t be living with the past 20 years of my own life as well.
What do you own that you are glad to have with you? What about the rest?
There are lots of resources for turning trash to treasures!
Do you want to declutter, but dread adding to the waste stream? It’s easy to be green when you are organizing. Organizing is all about recycling and reuse.
You’re working on an organizing project and you’re accumulating a pile of items that you no longer want or need. In can be discouraging to end up with a pile of things that aren’t easy to dispose of…that pile tends to sit around until you “figure out” what to do with them.
The short-term solution for some people is just to put everything you don’t want in the trash. We must admit, sometimes that option is very enticing. But with heightened consciousness about the waste stream, just dumping stuff you don’t want can be irresponsible.
Here are types of things you may find in your discard pile and ideas of how to get rid of them responsibly:
- Sensitive information to shred (paper or discs) – do you have a local shredding company where you can bring this to shred? Mobile shredding services are available to come to you in some areas. Office supply stores sometimes offer this service.
- Scrap metal – broken garden tools, miscellaneous metal parts. Most recycling centers have bins for these items.
- Clothing and fabric scraps – most charities take usable clothing, but clothes that are stained, torn or unusable can still be recycled. Goodwill Industries takes worn out clothes, sheets and fabric scraps and repurposes them.
- Plastic stuff – broken toys, buckets or pieces of household equipment don’t need to be put in the landfill. Many recycling centers take different kinds or plastic for proper disposal or repurposing.
- Paint, chemicals – these hazardous wastes need special care. Most counties have facilities for disposing of them.
- Building materials – many larger cities have re-use stores run by Habitat for Humanity or similar organizations.
- Food – unopened, unexpired food can be taken to a local food bank.
- Liquor – word has it that the Lyons or Elks clubs accept unopened liquor bottles and use it for raffle prizes. Check for a lodge in your area.
- Styrofoam – another item that makes me cringe when I think of putting it in the landfill. Styrofoam is another item that some recycling centers accept. Making it less onerous to dispose of oversized electronic packaging.
- Packing peanuts – UPS and other shipping stores will take these
- Oversize trash – Junk haulers will pick up for a fee. There are national franchises and local operators; use Yelp to find a good one.
- E-waste – most cities have electronics recycling centers. Be on the lookout for special e-waste recycling events put on by local organizations.
- Stuff to sell or donate. Here is a list of options for getting money (or not) for the things you don’t want.
- Donate to Charity – DonationTown.org will identify charities that will pick up in your neighborhood
- ebay Trading Assistants – have a special relationship with eBay and can handle many different kinds of items to resell for you. Generally they take 30 to 50% of the selling price of your item for their service
- Estate Liquidators
- Online Community Forums – your neighborhood group, Freecycle.org, Craigslist.org
- Auction houses
- Host a Garage Sale – do it on your own or enlist your neighbors to join in
If all this sounds too complicated, that’s where a Professional Organizer can help you out. Their job is to find ways to re-purpose, recycle or dispose of the many things that clients are done with. Professional Organizers often interface with all the above to help you expedite removal of unwanted stuff. Working with an organizer can help you feel good about your organizing and de-cluttering project from start to finish!