Here in the United States it’s spring time, and besides celebrating a new season, this time of year is also known for spring cleaning time.
Before coming to the United States for the first time over 2 decades ago, I had never heard of the concept of spring cleaning. My younger self thought this yearly ritual sounded a bit silly and unnecessary. I mean, did I really need to do the spring cleaning tasks in the spring? Obviously there was a lot about the process that I didn’t understand, and judging from the outside made it harder for me to see the benefits.
Luckily I explored the idea some more over the years, and I now realize how great the concept is. I might not do everything that is typically expected from the spring cleaning ritual (more on this on a future post!), but I do like the idea of doing certain things at the same time every year as to create an effortless habit, especially if you consider those tasks to be tedious or hard to do regularly.
My favorite thing to do for spring cleaning is decluttering. I usually keep clutter at bay in our home most of the year, but I’m always amazed that when I start to open drawers or check closets, there are so many things that just made their way there somehow and no longer have a purpose!
Of course when there are other people living in your home besides yourself, this occurrence is even more common. However, there are ways to get everyone on board to controlling what enters and stays in your home without much effort, and that’s what I want to talk to you today.
Here are my best tips for managing clutter on an ongoing basis in your home. Stick to these even if you consider your home to be cluttered right now, and you’ll notice a tremendous shift in no time.
- Place a large trash bag in each bedroom’s closet
You will use this bag to collect donations of anything that enters your closet and bedroom. For example, if you are getting dressed in the morning, and you put on a top and realize this is no longer your style, instead of putting it back in your closet, put it away in the donation bag. Do this anytime you come across an object in your home that you no longer love.
Do the same in everyone else’s room, and anytime you come across clothes that no longer fit, or toys that are no longer age appropriate, place them in the bag. Just be sure that these items are in good condition, otherwise they should be tossed or recycled.
Very important: as soon as the bag is full, put it in your car and take it to the donation center. This will stop the temptation of removing things from the bag and reusing them just because.
- Don’t be afraid to toss it
For those of us who worry about our carbon footprint and impact in the world, it can seem like a terrible idea to throw things away. I will always advocate for recycling first, but sometimes there are things that you might not be able to recycle where you live, or it’s not an easy item to recycle. Something that comes to mind is underwear. Yes, I am saying you should toss old underwear in the trash! Don’t keep anything that makes you feel less than great, whether that is clothing, broken objects, a half burnt candle that you don’t particularly like the scent, etc.
- Make recycling easy for you
You will be more likely to recycle if you have designated spots around your home to do so. I currently have a recycle bin in the kitchen, which gets emptied out into the large recycle bin for pick up in the garage. If you live in a 2-story home, you might want to consider having a recycle bin upstairs and one downstairs, and then empty them out as needed.
For those items that are considered hazardous or need special recycling, such as batteries, light bulbs, cables, old cellphones, appliances, etc, set up a collection box in your garage or laundry room, and when the box is full, drop it off at your local collection facility for such items. You can find more information about what items to take to these facilities, and their closest location to you by visiting www.earth911.com or downloading the iRecycle app.
- Stop intruders at the door
The best way to contain clutter is preventing it from entering your home in the first place. Think about all those times you grab something just because it’s free: the pen and paper in your hotel room (not to mention the toiletries!), the keychain from the event you attended last week, the tiny favors from the party your child attended, and the list goes on.
Be ruthless about what you allow in your home and notice how maintaining a clutter-free home becomes manageable, and dare I say, easy!
- Trade clutter for cash
Sometimes we find ourselves attached to things that we know deep inside we will never use/wear again, and yet we cannot bring ourselves to part ways with them. Perhaps you feel you paid too much money for it and will find an occasion to wear that item again, so you can feel better about the purchase (even though you don’t like the item); or you think you will use that appliance again, even though it’s been collecting dust for years.
One way to work through such dilemmas is to sell the item instead of donating. If you have items that are in excellent condition and are useful, there’s no reason why you cannot make some money while getting rid of clutter at the same time!
The best part of this exercise is that you’ll start looking around your home for all kinds of things that you no longer use, and you’ll begin to see the possibilities of living without it from a different perspective.
So my best tip for sustainable decluttering is to start today, exactly where you are. Eventually you will see for yourself the benefits of having a clutter free space and I guarantee that you will seek it more and more. But for now, just do what is right in front of you; what is manageable right now.
Happy spring cleaning!