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Responsible Decluttering During Crisis

How we can responsibly declutter during a time of world panic

TV in minimalist interior
Photography by Andres Jasso

The year of 2020 has been record-making in ways that we could have never imagined. Many of us are working from home, some are without a job, others are seeking this opportunity to get ahead on creating their dream life with newfound time.

Because of the unknown amount of time we all have on our hands due to quarantine, many people are turning to shows like Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things and Tidying Up with Marie Kondo to cure their boredom. As a side effect, this can kickstart spring cleaning that’s been pushed to the bottom of priorities for so. While minimizing your items and creating a simpler life is something we will continually advocate for, there are also alternative methods to decluttering than using second-hand stores as your default destination.

Sell

Looking at the things you are ready to donate, it’s very likely that you spent money on the majority of things that you own. If the item(s) are useable, why not gain some monetary value back as you purge them from your life?

While it will take effort and time to sell your items, it can be a great resource of extra income if you are slowly paying off debt or if you are getting out of a consumerist phase of your life.

Reuse, Re-home, Recycle

When going through your belongings to downsize, first take into consideration what could be repurposed by you or a friend. While it may not necessarily bring you joy, your unused items have the potential to serve a different purpose for you or a friend. Could it be possible that your old, ripped t-shirt could be cut up into reusable rags? Or maybe you have fabric from a sewing idea that could be used by a friend to jumpstart their project? Perhaps you have empty baby jars laying around, and a friend of yours is looking for small jars to clean up and use for homemade beauty products?

Most second-hand stores have a strict and thorough process of sorting what is useable enough to be on the sell-rack. If an item is unable to be sold or used by you or a friend, the chances are that the store will be unable to sell them either.

Sometimes, though, a bit of research is involved in making your donation decisions. While some areas may not take towels, toiletries, books, household items, or makeup—homeless shelters may gladly take those items. Towels, sheets, blankets, extra pet food, or other household items may be eagerly taken by local animal shelters. If you are moving out of your apartment and can’t take all the food with you, local soul kitchens would be happy to take those items off your hands.

Checking with friends and local organizations is a great way to intentionally downsize and donate items you can no longer use.

Mindful Donations

A flood of donations has happened once before, most notably in 2019 when Marie Kondo’s Tidying Up series was released on Netflix. Donation centers were overwhelmed with items that did not spark people joy, causing the centers to be flooded with more items than they could keep, handle, or sell.

We are not against donating items, in fact, we are very much in support of donating your items. Donating practical, useful, and in-shape things to people who could purchase it at a lower price is a wonderful thing to do. However, when donating to second-hand stores becomes your default choice and becomes the easier option, we urge you to consider more sustainable options that can bring you more monetary value and joy in the long run.

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