Ok so before we start figuring out our holiday plans (more stressful this year on a number of levels), let’s do a little cleaning up and out, shall we? This month, I’m focusing on donating (and recycling when needed). Clothes is the obvious place to start, but what about paring down your kitchen? And what about things like undergarments that can’t just be donated? And how do we even decide what to donate?
This month, I want to do a bit of physical introspection – if that’s a thing! It’s finally cooling down (ish) here in northern California. The flannel sheets are on the bed; we’re wearing robes in the morning; and I’m taking down my winter sweaters and layers this weekend.
Now everytime the seasons change, I’m working to pare down – noting the items I didn’t wear this last season and looking through everything I’m pulling back out with a judgemental eye!
How to Decide What to Donate
I find that even though I want to give away items, I sometimes struggle to decide what to donate.
When we moved to Sacramento a year ago, I was forced to evaluate every article of clothing and enjoy the perks of shopping my own closet. Looking at the shear number of black sweater/sweatshirt items I had forced me to take out a few. Then moving into a place with decidedly less closet space, I had to get a bit pickier about what to pick.
And then I met two sweet women here in Sacramento focused on organization and capsule wardrobes. If you’re struggling with organization and paring down, check out Carly at Tidy Revival! She even has a workshop to help you pare down and organize every room in your house.
And if you’re trying to figure out your style and then only have exactly what you need in your wardrobe, check out Missy from Simplified Wardrobe. She does great color analyses of celebs on her Instagram too that are so fun!
Following (and befriending) these two has made me even better at deciding what to donate. So here are a few key questions to consider when looking at all your belongings.
What to Ditch From Your Closet
This is the most obvious place to start, and, possibly the easiest (or the hardest). Below are a few questions to ask you about each piece you’re debating about. I’d highly recommend taking everything out of your closet, drawers, and shelves (you can break this up), however, because you really have to analyze each piece.
1. Have I worn this in the last year?
If the answer is no, then it should find a new home! If it’s only once or twice, it’s likely time to send it on.
2. Does it fit like I want it to?
Living in the land of “when I lose the weight,” isn’t good for you. If you truly don’t fit in something, pass it along to someone who does.
3. Does it need to be repaired?
Clothes with holes and rips should absolutely be fixed up (so, so environmentally friendly). Make a pile of things to get fixed up and take them to someone who can help you out. There’s a chance some things can’t be repaired, but go find out. If they can’t be fixed up, then it’s time to dispose of them properly (no, don’t donate clothes that are beat up – they’ll likely just end up in the landfill).
4. Do I own one of these already?
This is my biggest struggle. 6 black sweatshirts over here. While a case can be made for using more than one, you need to pick out at least 1-2 to pass along. You can do it, I promise!
What to Giveaway From Your Kitchen
Oh man. In my younger days (before I understood having too many things and had way more time on my hands), I lived for getting kitchen gadgets. Stand mixer. Oh yeah. Strawberry huller. Obviously. Pasta maker. I mean, I wish! Then I hit a point when I realized I really had what I needed (yes, the stand mixer will always be included in that for me).
So, I stopped the influx of new gadgets (save my electric composter, of course, which I’d keep over the stand mixer btw!). But I still had all the stuff I’d accumulated over the years…
Same setup as with your closet, PULL EVERYTHING OUT and take stock of what you have.
1. Have I used this in the last year?
If you haven’t used a gadget at least 5 times (and that’s conservative), then it needs to go. You can alway borrow if it’s THAT necessary, but likely you can use another gadget. Confession, I’ve used my old school hand blender over my stand mixer when I have no desire to do the dishes. And it works!!! Just like it always did!
2. Does it work like I want it to?
This sounds funny, but I’m beyond the point of accepting acceptable for many things in my life. This isn’t me being frivolous, but I don’t want to hang on to something that works ok but frustrates me more than makes me happy.
For me this year, it was my old mini food processor that was difficult to clean, overheated really fast, and didn’t even do that great of a job. It hit our electronics pick up stack and I bought a new one from Williams Sonoma that I LOVE!!! It had to be a little bigger too since we lost our big food processor in the move (long story)!
If something doesn’t work like you want it to, give it away or dispose of it properly. And then decide if you really need to replace it or if you can do without!
3. Do I own one of these already?
How many garlic presses do you have? Or salad serving spoons (that’s my achilles heel)? 8″ frying pans? Even just redundant silverware? The chances of repeats in your kitchen are extremely high. So pick your favorite and lose the rest!
Moral of the story is that we all have more than we need and it’s time to pare down. I’ll be sharing more various types of donating/recycling properly and organization this month, but I hope this will get you started.
And remember that donating items is not an excuse or reason to replace them. The goal here is to simplify your life and learn just how much ‘extra’ we all have that isn’t making us any happier! So what will you decide to donate?