When is it OK to just 'throw it away?'

robin_DCMarch 23, 2006

Hi. I've been on other parts of gardenweb for a long time, but I'm new to the organizing forum. I am pretty good about keeping things organized in the main living areas, but I have a couple of 'problems' that come up repeatedly. One is not having a "place" for certain things (so those items are the clutter I clean over and over; haven't yet figured out the best 'homes' for them in the current house but that's the subject of another thread...).

The other is the fact that recycling, donating, etc. becomes one more chore that I don't have time to do or that I put off because other things on the to-do list seem more pressing (I work 50-60 hours a week, plus commute time, and am currently planning a wedding, so I'm not kidding when I say I'm low on time). I keep up with the recycling of newspaper/magazines/boxes/junk mail circulars pretty well, but it certainly would be faster if I just threw things in the trash.

But then there are the household things, decorating items, and clothes, which I feel like I should give away vs. throwing away. Well unless I stumble upon a free pick-up in my neighborhood, I just don't manage to give them away. Instead the boxes of things 'to donate' either clutter my car, or my house.

My mom, who's very neat and clutter free, just puts everything in the trash (she is amazed at the time I spend bagging up newspapers and magazines and breaking down boxes for recycling). My fiance (also very neat) recycles, but didn't even know there was such a thing as goodwill(!!) till I mentioned it to him.

Anyway I know from lurking that you guys often have good advice. Any tips?

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well, to me, I feel guilty throwing away something perfectly good. I have to find a new home for it. If it's used up and worn out I pitch it. I hate the thought of cluttering up a landfill when it's not necessary. There have been times when I don't want to take a single item to Goodwill or other donation drop-off and I will pitch it but still hate to. If it's possible to keep a bag or box in the laundry area or in your car to fill as necessary then go for it. We have people who leave flyers or get mail from companies who will come to my house to pick up donations left at the curb or driveway. Is there a donation box on your way to work?

    Bookmark   March 23, 2006 at 8:11PM
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Can you put the stuff out by the trash with a sign "Free, Please take it!"? Or take it to work and leave it in the breakroom?

I also feel guilty throwing things away in the trash if they are still good. I make exceptions for a few bulky toys because I have a hard time getting those out without the kids seeing me. Everything else is garage saled or given away.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2006 at 8:36PM
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I have that same guilt--but that's what leads to the clutter! Before I met my fiance I would manage to hit goodwill every few months, but as the weekends are the only time I get to see him, it seems I never have time to run errands during their limited hours.

There is a free pick-up from a lupus society (almost threw the flyer away as junk mail last month, but I saw it the night before they came and managed to gather up some stuff) but I don't think they come around often enough to keep up with my periodic purges.

Laundry area is in my basement and given the lack of a stair rail if I take boxes down there it is hard (and dangerous) to get them back upstairs.

There is a donation bin for clothing on the way to work--but it is always overflowing (literally, stuff on the ground) so it seems practically the same as throwing things away.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2006 at 8:40PM
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I've had a lot of success with Freecylcing lately. I like knowing that my items are wanted and will be used. (learn more at www.freecycle.org)

The Vietnam Veterans of America will pick up at your house, no charge.

Just a phone call away.

Here is a list of accepted items:

Clothing of all types & sizes (mens, ladies, childrenÂs, babyÂs)
Clothing accessories
Shoes (all kinds)
Baby items
House and glassware
Books, toys, bikes
Stereos, radios, portable TVs
All bedding, draperies, curtains
Usable small furniture & rugs
Small appliances
Tools (all kinds)
Jewelry and cosmetics

More info at link below.

Good luck and happy purging :-)

    Bookmark   March 23, 2006 at 8:54PM
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We give stuff to the Vietnam Vets whenever we can. However, FreeCycle is the best!

We got rid of 2 bathroom sinks and toilets that were 45 years old. The man that took them was very grateful, he's rehabbing a very old house. Best of all, I didn't have to lug those heavy things out of the house. I don't think I could have even lifted the toilets.

Many FreeCyclers just leave the items on the porch or the side of the house for pickup, so you don't even have to be home to get rid of stuff.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2006 at 9:35PM
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I don't feel guilty, but I just can't see throwing away perfectly good items.

I would take the time to call the area thrift stores and see if they have a pick up service. All of our's do and you don't have to be home. Just pile the bags outside and lable for them.

Many churches could probably tell you good organizations. As well as any shelters, etc.


    Bookmark   March 23, 2006 at 11:29PM
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My MIL passed away suddenly in January 2005. Her daughters went thru all her clothing and threw out anything with tears or stains, and gave away about half of her clothes to the church. But she had about 40 pairs of dressy shoes. She had been a manager in an office and some of the shoes looked new,some still in boxes. No charity wanted them,so they went out with the trash. Broke my heart to throw out something she obviously paid thousands for. Unfortunately,they were not my size.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2006 at 9:40AM
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I throw stuff away. Not always, but most times.

Usually not a huge batch at one time, but if I say, "gee, DD has outgrown this nightgown," I may just toss it.

I especially throw stuff way if I think nobody will look for it at a thrift store (unopened packages of screws, for example). Or if I think that it'll sit at the thrift store forever (chafing dishes, anyone?). I toss it in the garbage if I think the thrift stores will have plenty of them (little kids' pj's).

Or if there's only 1 item, and I just don't know when I'll find the time to take it there.

But I've even tossed big piles of stuff--bcs I still don't know when I'll find the time to take it there.

The only things I feel any *obligation* to recycle are really valuable or substantial stuff or stuff in new condition--a silk shirt w/tags still on; my old DR table that's in fine shape; a pair of kids' jeans that's never been worn.

Do a search on "garbage" on the forum to find my rantings on this subject.

It's all gonna end up in the garbage eventually anyway--tomorrow when you break it, or 80 years from now when you're dead. It's just a matter of how much good or evil it's doing on the way there. Once all those items become the kind of chore you're talking about, they become evil. Stop them, before they kill again!

DH and I were once telling a friend of his about the really ugly Capo di Monte vase we were given as a shower present, that turned out to have been regifted. We were saying, "we don't knwo what to do with it," and his friend said: "Take it out back and smash it with a hammer." I get that guilty little giggle every time I think of it, bcs that's really what I wanted to do. (we had, in fact, tried to break it accidentally) So, youcould do that--bust it, then it's garbage, and it can be throw out without guilt.

The thing is, it's STUFF. Who is in charge--you, or it? There's nothing that proves your authority quite like the exercise of power. Toss that stuff.

If you find that hard to do, can you find OTHER ways to pass stuff on, that involve very little work on your part?

There's a shelf in the employee kitchen at work that is the "giveaway" shelf--I sometimes put stuff there, and if no one takes it by day's end, I figure it's safe to toss it out.

Another thing would be to spend a little energy finding some sort of drop-off place that makes it easy for you.

Still another would be to find someone that sells stuff on e-Bay, and ask if they'd take it for you (with or without a cut of any proceeds they get from reselling it). Frankly, often that would be enough for me--I don't want money or anything from that stuff, I just want to "refor so it's not evil anymore. If someone else took my excess stuff and made money from it, that would be fine w/ me!

If you can't find a place to get it to without huge amounts of work, just throw it in the garbage. I guarantee you that in 1 week, you won't even remember that you did. And the world won't end, no one will go hungry, or cold, etc., because you did.

Remember what you said about giveaway clothes that are overflowing? They're overflowing bcs no one wants them. And so why not just throw them away?

Clothes your eyes, toss. It'll be fine, honest!

    Bookmark   March 24, 2006 at 11:24AM
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When you are so very pressed for any time at all -- toss things out!!! Remember to shred any unwanted papers first!

BUT start to take note of any spaces OR household processes that could be re-organized to handle the HOT SPOT problems in the new house. Just write them down in a notebook --- to be handled AFTER the wedding. Writing these things down really can help ---- you might just "hit" upon the right answer as you work around the house --- and don't have time to implement the solution --- but the notebook will help remember your ideas!

THEN -- after you have time to breathe and take stock of your new home ------ then check back through your Decorating Notebook --- and re-think your storage spaces.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2006 at 11:50AM
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Another Freecycler here. I have gotten rid of a lot of stuff that was too bulky to take to Goodwill or Salvation Army.

I also had a "desk sale". I took things to the office for two weeks and setup my "3-a-day giveaways" on my credenza. It was the really good mostly decorator and kitchen items since these were my collegues. I kept it low key so as not to make a circus of it. Turned out to be very popular and fun.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2006 at 7:34PM
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Once I went thru my house and picked out items I no longer used or enjoyed. A lot of the stuff was excess wedding gifts. Do you need three candy dishes or four fondue sets? I brought my stuff to work and put it on a table with a sign "free-take anything you can use". Everyone was happy to get free things. The only thing left was a candy dish,which I then put on my own desk and used for holding paper clips.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2006 at 10:23PM
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Thanks for the ideas. Vietnam vets doesn't serve my area. Will have to see if others do pickups without me being at home; I struck out with this when I lived in the city, but I now live in VA so it's possible that they do.

No 'free' room at my office unfortunately.

Talleysue-- thanks for the motivational speech. When you put it that way, it doesn't sound so hard at all!

Teacats--great idea re: a notebook and writing things down.

I think there's a free pick up next month from this lupus society, so I'll give them whatever I can gather by then, and see if I can find any other alternatives (and if not, just throw some things out if needed).

    Bookmark   March 27, 2006 at 11:58AM
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I second (or third) FREECYCLE!!!

I love lurking and reading all of your ideas, but I had to chime in on this one. You would be amazed at the things people can use and are happy to receive via freecycle.

Some things we have given away via freecycle.org:
men's shirts
used carpet
very old, but working stove

Some things I have received from freecyclers:
100+ bricks from an old chimney (going to make a garden border)
picnic table

Check them out!!

    Bookmark   March 29, 2006 at 6:11PM
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Thanks! I don't think they were in my area yet the last time I checked, but it's been several months since then so I'll definitely check again.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2006 at 7:38PM
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I have not posted here before...
But, we are going to do sons room this afternoon and we are tossing. I am tired of arguing with him. He is 20 and going away to college in the fall...and we want to take the carpet out of his room and refinish the hardwood floor.
We are using garbage bags and throwing things out.
It is such a messy room....
My husband will take the old t-shirts...and there are a LOT of them for garage rags. I will rip the good before they go to the garage..(so they can't come back in!).
I am not going to sort his things too much, he is an outside worker/welder and many things are just shot!
Karen L

    Bookmark   April 3, 2006 at 12:24PM
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Robin -
I had to do a massive clean-up/de-clutter for my New Year's Eve party (I was hit by a bad flu a week before and had to get everything ready in a day or so) and I just threw a TON of stuff in the trash. Now, I am usually fanatical about recycling/re-using/donating everything, and I was amazed at how much time it saved just to dump everything. (Especially as this was after Xmas and we had all the wrapping paper, boxes, detritus still lying about.) I felt guilty about it, but it made me realize how much effort I put into doing a chore I don't even think about.

I would say that in certain circumstances it is okay just to throw out - like when you are overwhelmed by the clutter. What a great thing to go through the house with a big old trash bag and just throw it away! Presto, it's gone!

Sometimes it's okay to do the easy thing.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2006 at 5:01PM
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If someone really needs to throw it all away, don't forget about looking into renting a small dumpster. My friend and I are about ready to tackle her garage, shed and the stuff in the backyard and she will most likely rent something so we can really get the crud gone.

In my area a small dumpster is $240 for one month and they dump it four times. It would even be something several neighbors could go in together and get a clean-up done.

Much easier than hauling to the dump or trying to have the trash bags out for pick-up, especially since we have so many rules about our trash.


    Bookmark   April 3, 2006 at 5:53PM
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Lone desenter here--

Please don't fill up the landfill.
Please give stuff to someone who doen't have as much as you and I.
Take it to charity.
Put it in your planner and just do it--the trip will take you no time compared to the time you've spent moaning about how you don't have time to do it.

Just like all the other organizing tasks--it takes less time if you just do it rather than worrying about it.

"It's all gonna end up in the garbage eventually anyway--tomorrow when you break it, or 80 years from now when you're dead."
Eeeek! What a horrible justification!
If we reuse stuff, then we are buying less new stuff, which means less stuff period.
It works like this:
Option 1)I have old widget--give away widget to person A who uses it , then gives it to person B who uses it and then tosses it when it breaks. (= one widget in landfill, 3 happy people)
Option 2) I toss widget. Person A buys new widget, then tosses it. Person B buys widget, then tosses it (= 3 widgets in landfill! 3 happy people)
Option 3) I toss widget, Persons A and B can't afford new widget, so do without. (=one widget in landfill, 2 unhappy people)

Option 1 really is the best option.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2006 at 12:13PM
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yes, but can I get it into the hands of Person B? I seriously doubt it.

Person B often wants a new widget anyway, since they're so cheap. Or there are plenty of old widgets around, and mine becomes clutter in the second-hand store.

"best" is subjective--best for my sanity? for my family? for my time? sometimes, sometimes not.

If sending it down the food chain is something you can do without stressing yourself, great!

Where I live, it is just not as easy as it is for others. So, I'll just keep throwing the old-style stereo and outgrown pajamas in the garbage.

Oh, and...you're not the lone dissenter. You must have read right over the first few replies.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2006 at 3:19PM
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Ok, we did the sons room...and he is the one that said...lets do goodwill bags and I will take the stuff this afternoon.
Did you know that goodwill will not try to sell things that have holes in them.
So, we had 3 garbage bags of goodwill stuff and 3 bags of trash!
He weighs 220 and is 6'3"...there were still size L and M shirts hanging in his closet. Many of them like new...they went to goodwill. Holy things and games without parts went to garbage. I try to not fill the landfill either...but sometimes the things have to go!!
And I do not feel guilty about shirts and pants that are DEAD!!
Karen L
We did freecycle some things and have some things for e-bay.
You know at 20 legos aren't cool!

    Bookmark   April 7, 2006 at 3:45PM
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burntplants, several of have said give it away if you can. But after reading this board, I now realize that everyone does not have access to a reasonable way to give it to someone.

I think we also have to accept that many of the items we now purchase have been made to last a very short time. It's frustrating, but think of TV, VCR, etc. They are junk compared to ones made 40 years ago. When the iron goes kap-put after a year, there isn't any way to fix it.

My girlfriend still lives in the little town where I graduated from high school. None of the churches have any program to give out goods. A charity thrift store only opened in the last year and they pretty much only take clothing. Prior to that, she would try and sell things super cheap at garage sales, but even then, she could hardly give it away.

I'm fortunate in that my community I have many options for charity give aways, we have recycling for computer parts, a little bit of recycling for plastic, cans and paper but not much.

The overall message I'm hearing on this board is that many of us are trying to get control of our environments as a number one priority. However we can do that serves us in so many ways. After that, I think we are really trying to bring less and less into our homes.

We just have to face reality that clothing isn't all that well made and after my kids have been through clothes, they are hardly fit for cleaning rags.

In my world, the widget seems to break right away with me.


    Bookmark   April 7, 2006 at 6:46PM
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Oh, and another thought I realized, in terms of "best":

Used clothing travels overseas a lot, esp. that donated to large general organization; however, The Economist pointed out that this practice destroys any incentive to develop the local textile industry--which is an important "seed" industry for a developing economy. The cotton growers, processors, weavers, sewers, just can't compete w/ "free."

So it all depends on what your goal is.

I have been struck lately by the stuff at the thrift store, or rummage sales, etc., that just doesn't go anywhere. (that said, I'd like to make time to get to a thrift store to buy some boys' shirts to make smaller smocks for my Sunday School kids. and I'll be glad to be part of the "re-use" effort)

    Bookmark   April 7, 2006 at 9:34PM
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I DID actually read the first few posts...

but tally sue seemed to have convinced everyone to toss everything and I found that disturbing.

BTW--Goodwill sells stained items to rag merchants, so send them there too.

As someone who lives near cotton fields, I must say I've never heard of thrift stores and donations to charity putting cotton growers out of business.

Robin--if the Lupis Society comes around to pick up occasionally, I'd call them and tell them you've got a lot of stuff. Maybe they'd swing by your house if they were on your side of town even if it wasn't time for your neighborhood.

That said--of all the places I constantly fight to organbize and de-clutter, the bag marked 'Donate' that hangs in my closet and the bin marked 'Charity' in my garage never bother me.
I think if you regularly "purge" as you said, perhaps you should have an area set aside for recycling and donating.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2006 at 9:39AM
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Watching Oprah's rerun (I think) of the Debt Diet - I was struck by my situation - having little to nothing to do w/ money - but I absolutely need to STOP buying things. Consumables are one thing, but "collectibles" is another. Even clothes have become collectibles, as I am way past having children that consume them. I noted today that the Papasan chair needs to LEAVE - immediately!!! It is impossible to sit in comfortably - or rather to exit gracefully - but it has been - for years - a basket into which all manner of stuff disaappears. I bought it used from a gal friend 10 years ago. It is TIME. The more I can do like that, the more I can reclaim my property.

I will Freecycle this item, as someone else can still use it (as a collecting basket?)

I am chosing to not get involved in the underlying debate going on here, but have responded only to the leading letter.


    Bookmark   April 8, 2006 at 9:56AM
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This gets us right back to the availability to recycle used items. I don't live close to cotton fields, I live close to glaciers and we are 3,000 miles from a good sized city.

We do not have a Goodwill and talking with charity organizations, they say they throw trashed clothing away. So for my area, to donate trashed clothing, it causes labor and expense for the charity organization. They will not pay to ship it to the lower 48.

Had talley not posted about her situation within NYC, I would have never imagined that it would be hard to get rid of something there.

We only recently got a Freecycle list and a Habitat for Humanity store where people can donate things like paint and building materials. That has been a big help.

Sometimes the first step for getting a home organized is getting from under the overwhelming amount of stuff. That may mean throwing things away since it takes mental organization and quite a bit of effort to find items new homes. If someone has hit the overwhelmed stage, then getting the stuff gone is best and then they can think and plan.

Now, that we've been able to maintain a well organized home for several years, the recycling concept is built into our system. We keep bags in my bedroom and sewing room. Everyone in the family knows when they are finished with an item (book, toys or clothing) they put it in the bags. I love thrift stores and buy numerous items for the kids, but when we are done seeing the videos, reading the books, then back to the donate bags they go.

If someone is just starting, then let's support their efforts.


    Bookmark   April 8, 2006 at 5:07PM
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also, I have 3 closets, and no garage. So piles or bags of stuff waiting to be donated DO bother me. They physically get in my way. They make my home look trashed.

And the cotton growers or weavers or sewers who are being put out of business aren't NEAR you. They're in developing nations. I don't know how accurate the Economist is, but I thought it was an interesting viewpoint. If the clothing you donate ends up back in your own community, that the Economist's advice doesn't apply to you.

I would so happily spend energy to take stuff to place where I KNEW it was going to be used by someone who actually wanted it. (I spent several lines suggesting places it can go--which you must have missed.) So perhaps my willingness to throw stuff out is greatly influenced by an extreme lack of faith in the thrift stores I see.

Frankly most of the stuff in my home that's on its way out isn't that useful. It just isn't. It's not new, usually. It's often leaving because it's just not that successful as a product (if it were me, I'd throw that papasan chair out, bcs I'd figure, if it's uncomfortable to sit in, it's broken). I find it really hard to believe anybody wants it.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2006 at 10:32PM
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I had another thought about "clutter on its way out" that has become "chore clutter."

I have been know to LEAVE IT ON THE SHELF, waiting until just before I'm ready to take it somewhere.

I got grumpy w/ DH, bcs he said, "in 2 weeks, I'm going to go to the Housing Works bookshop and drop off a bunch of books"--and then proceeded to drag a whole ton of books off the shelf and stack them all over the place on the floor. I made him shove books over and put the giveaways on a shelf somewhere until he was ready to pack them up.

I was cleaning off the wall unit, and said, "I should ditch these vases." I knew I wanted to give them to the church rummage sale, but I put them BACK on the shelves. Then, the day I was getting stuff together, I took them off and put them in the box.

Because, while they were clutter, they were LESS DISRUPTIVE clutter if they were still in their old spaces. If I got them out, I was just trashing my house while they waited around to go to the Goodwill (or wherever).

So, to our original poster, perhaps you just need to leave these things be for a little while, until you know you can get to the drop-off place. If they're OK for now in the trunk, leave 'em there, and deal w/ them later. Or, the stuff you're eyeing as "soon to go," leave it there until after the wedding, and disrupt things THEN.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2006 at 10:38PM
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Have been away from the computer for a while.

Burntplants-- the issue is not just having time but *when* I have time. I post about this stuff when I am at work, and think about it at night when I am at home. None of those are times when any of it can be taken to goodwill or salvation army, even if either of those places happened to be located conveniently to me (which they aren't; both require special trips to areas I don't usually frequent).

As it turns out, I missed the latest lupus pick-up because I ended up working till 3 am every night that week. I probably will see if I can set up another pick-up time once I have time to gather more stuff.

Talleysue---yes the chore clutter is a *big* part of the problem. If the things were in their original space, they would not be very disruptive to me at all! But when I have time to go through the closets and drawers and pull out the things I want to get rid of, I almost never finish during a time frame when I could then haul it off somewhere. Great advice!

One thing that has helped recently is realizing that some decorating things I bought a long time ago, but still have tags and are in original packages, can be returned for store credit. I thought if I'd had them too long they wouldn't scan. So now I'm moving all that sort of stuff into my car (where it is temporary clutter) and periodically swinging by the stores to return stuff on my way home from work.

To avoid generating so much of that type of stuff going forward, I'm trying to hold off on buying decorating things until I have time to actually deal with whatever room they will go in, so that I have a better sense of what will, or won't, work right away (vs. storing things up then realizing some items don't work once I put the room together).

I don't have truckloads of stuff. I just do not have a lot of space (my fiance's 1100 sq ft condo has more closet space than my house!). And with my fiance moving in after we get married, I have to clear things out to make room.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2006 at 2:38PM
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I'm trying to hold off on buying,

Ah, and here Talley Sue gets to trot out her favorite maxim, the secret to continued decluttering:


In other words, don't buy it in the first place! Not unless you KNOW you need it, and you have a place to put it the moment you get home.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2006 at 9:46AM
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OK, here's another thought.

I tend to define "donating to the Goodwill" as a minor chore. One that should be wedged in between other, bigger things on the schedule.

I think there are times I should redefine it as "a big chore," one that it is OK to organize my Saturday around. (I do this sometimes, when the pile is big enough, or if I've planned a big cleaning-out day)

If your car's trunk is mostly unusable, and you've got another pile on the porch, maybe it's time to stop thinking of this task as "dropping stuff off on the way" consider it "important enough to make a special trip."

(I also find that when I've decided I *am* going to go the Goodwill/Salvation Army, then I tack on other little errands that can be done in the area where the Goodwill&Salvation Army are. Sometimes they're errands I *could* do closer to home, but I can do them there as well--there are grocery stores near the Goodwill. Or, I go to the vacuum cleaner store and stock up on bags even if I don't need 'em; saves me a trip later)

    Bookmark   April 13, 2006 at 9:55AM
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Yes I've cut back on the shopping to avoid the problem. With these household decor items, it's typically not that they're things I don't need for the house; rather it's that they're things I do need (art for room x, curtains for room y, bedspread for room z) but then don't do anything with for a while because I am too busy working on other rooms. But then I may see something else that I like better, or change my concept for the room, before I use it---which leads to extra stuff that needs to be returned. Or else realize that it doesn't quite match, and needs to be returned. So I suppose it's that I don't need the home decor stuff *at that instant*, but I buy it at places like tj maxx, marshalls, where merchandise is not constant and if I don't buy them, the items won't be there later.

Still, my resolution for this year is to "just do it," which in this context means finishing tasks. And I'm trying to work on doing things a little at a time, vs. waiting till I have time to do the whole thing at once. So I might hang a picture somewhere even though I haven't yet painted the room, or bought the rest of my art, or new throw pillows, etc. That helps with the flow of things coming *in.* Just a matter of getting other things out!

With some stuff I just have to accept that I may have to replace 'perfectly good' stuff because I can't hold on to it until the point in the future when I may need it again. I've moved 5 times in the last 8 years and am planning to move again next summer! Which means I've had a tendency to keep things that don't work in the current place thinking I may be able to use them in the next place. There are quite a few things I've gotten rid of that I wish I still had. BUT I've decided to stop saving stuff that's not being used; I can afford to replace it later.

Scheduling a special trip is not a bad idea. I don't know that I could afford to take a morning off work to do it, but that would be the least time-consuming time to go. Saturdays and Sundays are the only time I see my fiance, and I also have to squeeze in any chores/errands during that time, and usually a half day of work; so realistically it could be at least a few months before I find time to work that in around other things on my list.

Honestly I suspect that the fact that Sats/Sundays are my only time with the fiance is the biggest factor in my lack of time to do these things. Or more basic errands like buying groceries and taking the dry cleaning in (which I don't get to every week). I'm hoping that being married and seeing him every day (b/c we'll be living together) will make things a lot easier. Because right now, if I have an extra couple hours on a weekend day, I choose to spend it with him.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2006 at 11:19AM
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your fiance can't come along to the Goodwill? I actually find that to be sort of fun, like a joint field trip.

And it really feels intimate, somehow; you'd certainly go to the park, or the movies, or watch TV, or something, w/ a friend, but you only run errands or do chores w/ your closest family.

Even when we were dating, I felt closest to DH when we were tackling some chore together

Working toward a joint external purpose really united us into a team. Even if it was *my* ceiling fan we were re-installing, or *my* trip to the post office, or *his* bathroom we were cleaning.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2006 at 12:40PM
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I have trouble imagining that he would. The only contexts in which we've done any joint chores are those where there is something I actually *needed* him for, or vice versa.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2006 at 2:18PM
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robin, you better try out the "joint chores" before you get married so you'll know what to expect.

Oy vey. Nothing gets us fighting faster than joint chores.


    Bookmark   April 13, 2006 at 3:27PM
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Robin, I was the same way before I got married - what little time I had, I wanted to spend with my fiance (now DH). And despite what others say, doing *chores* together isn't exactly what either of you have in mind, is it? ;-) I know I never did much in the way of errands with my DH before we were married...we just wanted to hang out and relax & do fun things together (plenty of time to do errands and chores together when you're married - we do all the time now). So yeah, I understand the time crunch and the not *wanting* to allocate time with your fiance to boring ol' errands. If you two are anything like us, marriage *will* take some of that time crunch pressure off, as well as giving you more time to see each other. :-)

You *could* take part of a Sat to drive to Goodwill - you just have to decide what your *time* is worth. Is it worth as much as the stuff in the car? Yes? Then take all the stuff in the car, and toss it out. Because your time with your fiance is probably worth *more* than all that stuff is worth, even to someone else (not to mention the extra gas involved). Seriously - just toss it, and don't feel guilty! Your relationship is worth it!

The stuff you absolutely, positively cannot bring yourself to toss - make up a huge "Free!" sign, and leave it at the edge of your yard with the free sign on it, one box at a time, when you leave for work in the morning. If the "stuff" is still there when you get home, obviously it's not worth anything to anyone else, and you can toss it without guilt.

You're not going to live like this forever (I assume) - you'll eventually be married, and stop moving around all the time, and be able to make that trip to goodwill once every other week or so on a regular basis. In the grand scheme of things, you just need to decide what's more important *now* - and you can always donate tons of stuff later, when your time isn't in such a short commodity.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2006 at 3:54PM
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It's funny, I don't know that I'd really connected the dots before these latest posts, yet that is what it seems to boil down to; whether the other things I'm doing seem to be more worth my weekend time. This really struck me this afternoon, when getting quotes for cutting my grass; I couldn't believe how reasonable it was, and thought to myself 'wow I wouldn't drive to someone's house for $25, let alone cut their grass!' (granted a professional could probably cut my lawn in 15 min's though it takes me much longer!). That's a bit of a digression, but the point is, it made me think about how much I value my time.

I've been unable to find that lupus organization again via the web (hopefully I have records at home). But I've decided that for *now* I'll have to rely on services that come to me (and ideally don't need me to be home)--so I can do the boxing up on weeknights when I am most likely to have time. Driving stuff places during their limited weekend hours, then waiting for them to process it (goodwill has longer hours but is VERY picky about what they will take; can't just dump it and leave) will have to wait until later.

I don't plan to live like this forever (not good for the sanity OR the relationship!). So one day I will have more time than I do right now. But I'm not sure it's realistic to think that I will have extra time before the wedding.

Circling back to Talley Sue, perhaps starting tasks when I don't have time to finish them is itself a way of DOING HARM?

    Bookmark   April 13, 2006 at 5:03PM
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i used to throw stuff away, now i take it to goodwill, or call a local charity or goodwill and they will pick it up from your house. I also use craigslist.org I have put several items on here for free and they have gone within hours. I have also got stuff from there too, including two truck loads of drainage rock for free. Now i don't throw anything out. Someone can always use what you don't want

    Bookmark   April 14, 2006 at 7:31AM
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Lets say you are passing a pond where someone is drowning. Are you required to save them?

According to my ethics and philosophy classes, yes, UNLESS THIS ENDANGERS YOUR OWN LIFE! You can't swim, or you're very small and the drowning person is very large, or you're ill and shouldn't get wetand cold.

So if you're drowning in the clutter yourself, have no time because of challenges in your own life, or can't find a place to donate without great effort, it's okay to throw it out. There are other ways to contribute than by donating an old shirt.

Remember, if you're on a plane and the oxygen tube drops down, you must first secure your own tube before helping someone else.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2006 at 8:44AM
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Working toward a joint external purpose really united us into a team. Even if it was *my* ceiling fan we were re-installing, or *my* trip to the post office, or *his* bathroom we were cleaning.

I wish my ex and I had done more like that before we got married. We had a long-distance relationship, so, of course, there was no incentive to do chores when we were able to get together. If we had, though, it would have been illuminating to see how each other approached those chores/projects and how we got along at those times. We didn't. We pretty much ended up dividing whole tasks unless the job physically required two people. I think seeing that earlier would have made us (well, certainly me) rethink our future. Not to say that a couple can't get past it; just that we didn't.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2006 at 9:42AM
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The goodwill is by the grocery store here, so I just drop it off on my way.

I can't bring myself to toss stuff.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2006 at 2:20AM
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Wannadanc - On another forum (quite awhile ago) there was a picture of a papa san chair hanging by chains from a tree. It was planted to overflow with ferns and several other plants. Absolutely gorgeous.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2006 at 7:56AM
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Terryinmd - I love what you said "Remember, if you're on a plane and the oxygen tube drops down, you must first secure your own tube before helping someone else."

I use this phrase when I'm feeling guilty about taking time for myself (when I feel I should be with dd all the time.) I never thought about it in terms of taking care of the house, but it works.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2006 at 12:56PM
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My mom loves to shop at thrift stores. I don't think she's ever looking for anything in particular, rather, she has lots of time and just enjoys the browsing and the excitement of a "good find".

I suggest you throw it away if it's broken or otherwise ruined. But if it still works or can still be used then donation is the way to go. If it's a two-piece item and one piece is broken but the other still good, donate it. My mom has found lids for dishes (and vice versa) that she had at home.

I usually have a pile or box for donations, whenever it's full or I get a notice from a charity then I either take it somewhere or put it out for pickup. I don't view it as an inconvenience at all.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2006 at 4:55PM
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ah, but sometimes the best of intentions can create an unacceptable hardship. I have two small children and I have been busy sorting and tagging good but outgrown clothes and unwanted toys for an upcoming cosignment sale, which is a fund-raiser at my youngest's pre-school (anything not sold will be donated to charity). It is time consuming but I feel good about doing it because it helps her school.

Meanwhile, I have a working computer monitor, albeit a huge pre-flat screen dinosaur, that has now been riding around in the back of my car for two weeks. I have tried to give it to both daughters' schools, two local non-profit organizations, a local charity, even a computer repair shop(!), and NO ONE will take the darn thing! I have spent way too much time trying to get rid of this thing. Charity can only eat away at so much of my time before it gets to be a burden. I plan to put this thing at the end of my driveway this weekend with a sign that says "working, FREE, please take me!" and if it is still sitting there on Monday morning when the trash man comes, guess what -- it is trash! And NO ONE will be able to make me feel guilty about that.

Signed, Trying to do the right thing, but ...

    Bookmark   April 21, 2006 at 6:18PM
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I live in Texas and in the wake of two hurricanes our charity/thrift stores were clogged with clothing of every description. Shortly after the summer ended, the stores marked down clothing to $2 a piece just to move them out. I bought my son two great blue sports jackets, which he needed for high school, plus a gray suit for him as well, all for $8. These clothes were in "perfect" used condition. Nothing was wrong with them whatsoever. I am grateful to those people who took good care of their clothing and donated them.

However, lots of clothing is stained, torn, or ugly. Those are clothes that should have been tossed out rather than donated.

My advice is to take your best used clothes and donate them, even if they ride around your trunk for months, because someone will be thankful.

Most of our clothing winds up in the trash because it's stained or torn and not worth the time to repair.

Pretty much once we finish with anything, its too worn out to use again.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2006 at 6:49PM
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tonda, I ran into the same thing with our old computer monitor (it's only about 5 years old and still works, but the computer died). My usual charity refused to take it because it didn't have the corresponding computer. It's going into the bulk trash pickup next week. It's sad when you consider how many schools, vocational centers, and third-world countries could probably use the monitors to go with their out-dated computers, but there's no easy way to match up our excess items with their needs.


    Bookmark   April 21, 2006 at 7:06PM
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actually, they probably don't need the monitors at all. Most computers *come* w/ monitors, and they don't break THAT easily. And if they do, it's probabl not that hard to get monitors--they can use the monitor from the COMPUTER that broke.

And w/ people upgrading, it would be very easy for most charities to end up w/ tons of unused monitors sitting around the thrift store.

If a charity won't take it, it's not useful.

You may think it is, but it's not.

National Geographics are a case in point. No library in American will take a donation of National Geographics. i bet if you call yours and ask if they take back issues of magazines, the first words out of the librarian's mouth will be, "not National Geographics."

There are just more of those things around than are needed.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2006 at 7:36PM
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Aw, Talley Sue, I thought that was just because of the photos of bare-breasted "natives"!

But I think you're right about the computers; I'm just regretting that our "disposable" society is designed for waste and not for the facilitation of recycling. There are so many things that are NOT used up and could be useful to someone else.

p.s. You'll be proud to know that, this afternoon, I bagged up 7 grocery bags' worth of stuff from our basement tool cabinet for disposal next weekend at the city's semiannual hazardous waste collection. Drain cleaner from our pre-kitchen remodel days, dozens of cans of half-used paint in colors I don't even remember using, paint thinner, wood stain, solvents, dried up tub caulk, antifreeze, rusty aerosol cans whose labels I can't even read! When I load it into the car and drive it to the collection center, I'll have to drive slowly and put my blinkers on--imagine, if somebody ran into my car, it would blow up! (Just kidding, I THINK.) But I will feel safer, knowing it's all out of the house. Then I'll get started on the stuff that can go in the regular trash: dried up paint brushes, unidentified odds and ends that "might be useful someday," and garden tools we inherited from my FIL that are probably 50 years old (hmmm, are they antiques?).


    Bookmark   April 21, 2006 at 8:34PM
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Computer monitors are not allowed in our trash. They are chock full of toxic stuff.

We have a yearly electronics recycling by a program called Green Star. It costs $10 for a car load of old computer stuff. They have a day for businesses and one for residential. At $10, we think it's quite a deal. We only have one old burned up monitor, but will still pay to get that gone.

Have you checked with a local recycle organization to see if they have something similar?

Freecycle is also a good option for working monitors. We have people posting on our list fairly frequently looking for a replacement.


    Bookmark   April 22, 2006 at 2:17AM
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Well, Baltimore DOES allow computers and monitors in the bulk trash (I checked, and I think I mentioned this on another thread, a while back). I haven't tried Freecycle; I'll look into it. Maybe tonda could do this, too.


    Bookmark   April 22, 2006 at 11:45AM
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mtnester--those aren't antique. Antique has to be 100 years old. Over 25 but under 100 is "vintage."

According to Martha Stewart Living, that is.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2006 at 10:03AM
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Talley Sue, I know these tools aren't really "collectibles" of any kind; they're just common old garden tools with wooden handles, so they're much heavier than the modern-day versions. Also, in some cases, the working ends are rusty. They'll go in the bulk trash, one of these days (our bulk trash will only take 3 items per monthly pickup, so I'm working on the bigger stuff first).

But I do have some "vintage" items to dispose of: old jazz records from the 1950's and 1960's and a set of art deco-style building blocks from MY childhood (ALMOST antiques by your definition, LOL!).


    Bookmark   April 24, 2006 at 12:18PM
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Oooh, if they're heavier, and sturdier, but just rusty, you can clean them. Sometimes it's worth it, bcs they're just stronger than what you get nowadays. Then, once you've sanded them clean again, you can stick their ends into a bucket of oiled sand, and keep them clean AND conditioned. According to Martha, anyway.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2006 at 2:33PM
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Thanks for the tip, Talley Sue! Some, like the rake, are really broken, but maybe there's hope for the others. I think I'll add them to my stash for the yard sale (and let somebody else worry about cleaning off the rust). I don't have an outdoor garden, so the rake, hoe, and shovel are of no use to DH and me. We do occasionally make use of the small wood-handled tools, like chisel, sander, and putty knife, so I'm keeping them.


    Bookmark   April 24, 2006 at 3:17PM
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Definately put the old tools in your yard sale. I have seen the neatest yard art made from them. I donated mine to the thrift store just because I knew people around here will use them for that purpose.


    Bookmark   April 24, 2006 at 8:28PM
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Ah, the tyranny of stuff.

The ease of getting rid of stuff varies w/ location. For example, in NYC it's easy to get rid of an old TV or chair or bookshelf--put it out on the curb on a non-rainy day. I'tll almmost always walk off on its own. If it doesn't, well then no one wants it and the trash guys can take it. Clothes are another matter. Welfare recipients wear better clothes than I do. Or, I shd say, trendier clothes. No one wants my old out-of-style, non-designer stuff. Here in PA, there are more Goodwill type drop-off places, and clothes might actually be reused. Rural folk aren't as concerned w/ trends, I guess. But you'll have to pay to have the chair hauled away if you can't Freecycle it.

For the OP, in DC, putting stuff outside might be the same as recycling.

The last few years at work, we've had 'stuff exchange' at christmas/holiday time, instead of gifts. People bring in little tchotchkes they haven't managed to toss, wrapped, and exchange them. It's fun, and it gets rid of stuff. (The down side is if you bring, you have to take--but sometimes you get something you'd actually use.) Of course, it's spring, so this isn't immediately useful.

Bottom line--if it's dragging you down, and you can't find a convenient way of recycling it (there's no freecycle, goodwill won't do pick-up) then toss it. You can save the planet later when you're not running around trying to plan a wedding and whatnot. I'm an environmentalist, but sometimes you just have to do what's best for yourself.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2006 at 1:23PM
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Yards sales are great. When we bought our first house, we were broke and had no tools, no lawn mower. We were able to find a lot of useful tools and a mower for $10 back in those days. Thank heaven for garage sales!

    Bookmark   April 27, 2006 at 9:15AM
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Hi everyone. I got back from my honeymoon last week and thought I'd post an update. We've been VERY busy getting my husband moved out of his condo and into our (formerly 'my')house. And doing that has required major purging and de-cluttering on my end (and some on his, though he has a fraction of the 'stuff' that I do). He is very neat--so I really feel motivated to get organized, and to tackle a couple of areas that had become clutter magnets (home office and the landing areas adjoining my stairs on the 2nd floor). The bigger issue, though, is that I was using almost all the storage space in the house for my stuff, so I've had to get rid of a LOT of things, and store other items more efficiently, to make room for two!

We actually took a joint trip (with his mom, who came for the weekend to help pack) to the salvation army Saturday, because he had a decent amount of stuff we weren't keeping (duplicates). And I used that trip as motivation to pull together a bunch of stuff of my own. His mom couldn't believe that the line for donations at the salvation army goes around the building and down the block (donations are drive-through style), or that it took an hour to get through the line, but I was just glad to get it done!

I've generated another couple of boxes of stuff to donate, and once we get all the wedding gifts open, we'll have a lot more things to unload (pots, pans, etc.). While unpacking at home today, he saw a truck for a DC children's foundation that does pick-ups in our area, so we will call them to arrange a pickup or two. That way we won't have to keep doing the salvation army line. Goodwill and the salvation army won't pick up in our area unless you have rooms full of furniture.

I feel a little bad that I was not able to help much with packing up the condo, because I was too busy making space for the stuff being packed! I hoped to make space before the wedding. But the fact is, I had too many other priorities pre-wedding to take on a task of this magnitude. It is kicking my tush, but it's worth it...

I suspect once the merging of households is complete that I will be more organized than ever! Because we just don't have enough space to hold 2 peoples' stuff and NOT be organized. :-) I realize now that his 2 BR condo had more closet space than my house; ah, the joys of older homes. :-)

    Bookmark   August 29, 2006 at 3:05PM
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Congratulations on your wedding! Welcome to the world of newlyweds. My beloved husband and I discovered that in every relationship there is a messy person and a neat organized person, and they may be different at work. Learn early who will mislay the theatre tickets,or refrigerate the keys and plan accordingly.
I found the best way to get rid of big good stuff is workers who are remodeling your house, or plumbers, etc; even your neighbors workers. I have no idea what they did with the two couches that were in our living room yesterday but --they are gone. I just mentioned I would love to give them away at 10 AM and by lunchtime--gone. ditto for our old player piano--tshirts, bedroom set, etc. I may be stocking a furniture store someplace.
Salvation Army and Goodwill are closing local stores, apparently things have changed. If they pick up--they are picky about what they take. I have found ways to personally contribute stuff to people who need it.
And when throwing stuff in the trash, a "free pile" works fine. I live in a neighborhood that is cruised heavily the night before trash pickup.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2006 at 8:12PM
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Whew! I'm tired just reading. DH and I got married in our late 30's and had to combine stuff. My son and I were moving into "his" condo and it just didn't occur to him to do any more than push some clothing down the rod. It was more like he gave us the space of an overnight guest. It took us several years to really make the transition. Of course, my biggest interest was in getting rid of his bachelor funiture and he fought me all the way. I just got rid of the last piece this summer. Much easier to decide which coffee pot was the newest and best to keep. But deciding if my fabric got space vs his books? Oh, man, that caused a few go-arounds. Luckily, he had an office building and we knew we would be househunting fairly soon, so quite a bit went into storage. I really shouldn't have kept any of it.


    Bookmark   August 29, 2006 at 9:12PM
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Congratulations, Robin!

Today is my 20th wedding anniversary, but I still remember my dh moving into my condo. I didn't see the need to keep the ugly, horrible (IMO) Wisconsin beer mugs. He won. I have learned, after several moves, that they serve a purpose by residing in the least accessible place in a cabinet, thus preventing useful stuff from getting pushed back there. :)

Definitely look into the organization that picks up cast-offs. We have one that comes around every month. When they call, I always say "yes". Then I run around the day before and collect a bagful to give away.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2006 at 11:26AM
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In our area, ARC (a nationwide program that helps developmentally disabled individuals) will pick up items.
If you go to their website, they have all kinds of info.
You can even sell stuff on ebay and donate the proceeds to them.
(I have a developmentally disabled granddaughter).

They call me once a month - I tell them "yes, I have a bag/box", then I just set it out for them.

Very convenient. Also have used Freecycle for items that ARC can't take (furniture, an old drysuit, plants, other misc)

I keep a box in my kitchen pantry and also a box in the master bedroom closet. Whenever I have something I realize I don't use any longer I just put it in the box.
Then it's ready for ARC.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2006 at 11:40AM
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Also "goodwill" does not take most baby "equipment" like strollers, swings, baby seats and high chairs. Likely because of liability issues. But our local "crisis pregnancy" takes anything like that. Those people are desperate. So if anyone is looking to get rid of (not broken) baby stuff, those are the places. Contact your house of worship and they can hook you up with a location I am sure.

"Purple heart veterans" and juvenile diabetes foundation also takes stuff around here. And you can call them.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2006 at 2:43PM
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Women's shelters are usually grateful for women's and kids' clothing.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2006 at 10:38PM
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Some women's shelters also accept small household items; flatware, bedding, towels, dishes, etc. as most of the women will be starting out from scratch, having left everything behind.

They also take old cellphones for the women which are programmed for emergency calls only.


    Bookmark   August 31, 2006 at 7:37AM
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Thanks for the congratulations and suggestions! That pick-up organization won't be back in my neighborhood till October, so we'll have to physically drop off the latest round of donations. Though I'm sure we'll have more stuff by October, once I go through some of the closets that have out of season clothes in them.

A friend and her boyfriend want to stay with us next weekend while they are in town. I am not sure we can clear out enough boxes over the holiday weekend for that to be feasible, but I'll give it a try. Maybe that will be extra motivation to push through; this process has been thoroughly exhausting!

    Bookmark   August 31, 2006 at 9:09AM
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I love to rid of stuff but it always seems that the week afterward I need it.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2006 at 2:33PM
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I am working on a project to refresh and renew torn & stained clothes (mainly kids clothes) to be donated to the clothing exchange at the Northshore Family Center in Bothell, WA. The project involves acquiring used clothes & sewing supplies so that by mid-January, there will be an abundance of fabric, needles, buttons, etc., and at least 500 articles of clothing to be mended. I'm hoping for a group of 100+ people at the event! Heart & Sew: a mending project has come about based on my passion for creativity, connection and contribution. Let me know if you have clothes you'd like to donate to this event!

luckymandy =)

    Bookmark   October 17, 2006 at 2:10PM
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