Do you ever take a look around and wonder how you've accumulated all this stuff? Clutter is a topic that has been on my mind constantly this past year with moving from my loft to a townhouse back in May, getting married and suddenly accumulating double the stuff, and then finally completing our final move the very last weekend of 2016.
Back during my move earlier this year, I gave myself a big pat on the back for going through all of my possessions and donating or disposing of anything that was no longer of use to me. When I finally got settled into the new townhouse, the place was a little empty but mostly it just felt good and freeing. Then, in came the wedding gifts and all of Ryan's possessions as well. As happy as I am for Ryan and I to live together and as thankful as I am for the generosity of our wedding guests, suddenly my little barren oasis has turned into a tiny home packed to the brim with more of that darn stuff. It gotten to the point where I think I freaked Ryan out a little bit with my sudden outbursts of "Where did this come from!?"
So, my goal for December was to do round 2 of purging for the year in efforts to begin 2017 fresh. If you also find yourself in need of simplifying and reducing after the holiday madness, here are some tips I've picked up along the way:
1. Decluttered Closet Probably the biggest category of things I tend to accumulate is clothing. I am totally guilty of not being able to resist a good sale or occasionally rewarding myself at the end of a tough week of work with a new sweater. As long as I keep it in moderation and within my budget, I don't necessarily find an issue with these habits until I go into my closet and realize that half of this very important space is taken up by things that I no longer wear. Anytime I clean out, I truly go through all my clothing--not just hanging clothes, but minor things like workout t-shirts, socks, and pajamas, too. My main logic is that if something doesn't fit, is no longer in style, or if I didn't wear it last time it was seasonally appropriate, then it goes. A friend one time gave me a tip to turn all of my hanging clothes backwards in the closet whenever the season changes, and then to turn the hanger back around the right way after I wear it. Then, if at the end of the season anything is left hanging backwards, you know that you didn't like it enough to wear it, and you probably don't like it enough to keep it!
2. Unsubscribe Usually when I think about cleaning out, I focus on the big items like clothing and home goods. However, I've recently started to take stock of all the extra tiny things that come in my door that I barely even notice. That Stitch Fix account that encouraged me to buy a clothing item I didn't really like or need? Cancelled. Those magazines that I've been getting double of or don't even really know how I got them in the first place? Unsubscribed and tossed. Even down to the tiny items like all those email ads I get everyday from stores I bought something from one time way back in 2013...those are being unsubscribed too! Even just reducing my stack of mail at the end of the day makes it more likely that I won't have the latest Crate and Barrel catalog sitting on my kitchen table for 3 weeks....
3. Responsibly Donate Getting rid of things is always a little easier if you know you're doing some good in the process. Almost everything can be donated or recycled in some way, but it's also important to make sure that you're giving to a responsible organization. St. Vince de Paul is a great place to send your gently-used clothes or home items. Also, if you're looking to make a little money for your clothing, thredUP offers an easy way to do this. thredUP will send you a donation bag with prepaid return labels in the mail and all you have to do is stuff it and drop it off at your post office. Then, within a couple weeks, thredUP will sort your bag and offer payout in the form of a prepaid Visa for any items they keep and then responsibly donate the rest. Now, I will admit that the upfront payout is not as good at thredUP as it is at some other places, but you pay for the convenience of this service, and it's nice to be able to just mail your items off and let someone take care of the rest!
4. Get One, Give One This tip came in especially handy when Ryan and I were receiving our wedding gifts and would be great to keep in mind as you sort through some recent Christmas gifts. My rule throughout the wedding was that if we received something new, then it was time to get rid of something old. So, as soon as we received our new set of pots and pans, I would put the new ones away and immediately put the old ones in the empty box to donate. This method really works best if you have received or purchased something large that you don't need duplicates of. Make way for the new!
5. Just Let It Go I will never forget my first day living in Louisville. I had been out of college for about two months and was a few days away from beginning graduate school and my first "big girl" job. That afternoon, my mom forced me to read my washer/dryer owner's manual and clean out my college t-shirts, and I thought "Wow, so this is adulthood." During college, I collected t-shirts like it was my job, and I heavily resisted getting rid of any. I had this vision of saving all my favorites and making a quilt out of them. And while some people do this and I do think it's really cool, it was kind of a ridiculous idea for me because a) I don't sew, and b) I would never pay money for someone to do this for me. So, out the t-shirts went. And you know what? I don't miss them at all. If I really want to take a trip down memory lane, I look through pictures of me and my friends because those are truly more precious than the fraternity shirt I thought I just had to have at the time. My other bad habit is hanging onto damaged items because I think they will come in handy at some point. That t-shirt with the hole in the back? I tell myself that I can just layer a cardigan over it. Or those super old running shoes that literally hurt my feet to wear? I trick myself into thinking I should save them just in case I one day have to do yard work, and it's muddy outside. In the end, you're better off if you just learn to say no and let it go! I promise you won't miss it.