Friday, March 04, 2011

Reduce, Reuse, Remind Me Why I Can't Throw Anything Away Anymore

One of my goals for the year has been to organize and sort out more of the stuff we have in our house. We have big closets but they've been crammed full of things we're no longer using. Unfortunately for us, both my husband and I are bad about keeping things that we no longer need. For my husband, the problem is a (possibly genetic) packrat mentality. His family doesn't seem to ever get rid of anything (as evidenced by some of the items unearthed from his parents' basement upon their move a few years ago).

For me, the problem is about the sheer amount of time required to get rid of things. Sounds crazy, right? How hard can it be to just throw something away? If it were a problem of putting trash in a trash can this would be no problem. We don't have a sanitation or a rubbish problem. But the stuff we have accumulated is supposed to be useful to someone (reference husband and packrat family), and it is wasteful to throw away useful items and heaven forbid something might go to a landfill instead of being re-used or re-cycled or that needs to be safely disposed of. And lets not talk about garage sales, re-sale shops, charity clothing drives, craigslist, and ebay. There are just too many options for how to get rid of something.

I've done garage sales and they take way too much time for too little reward. Why spend 3 days preparing and 5 hours sitting to make $50? Besides, it's not about the money for me. If I want extra money, I'd do better picking up a few extra hours at work. There are a few Goodwill spots around town, but we're about 20 minutes away from all of them and none of them are enroute to anywhere we ever go. There are charities who will pick items up at your house, but I don't have time to sit around and wait for them and am not a fan of asking strangers to show up at my house when I'm not home.

Yep, sounds like a crazy problem. But crazy as I am, I still have closets to clean and junk to get rid of. My most recent project involved my almost-4-year-old's closet. It's a nice-sized walk-in closet where we've installed extra shelving, but the shelves have been stuffed full of boxes of out-grown clothes for the better part of two years. Somewhere in the 12-18 month size, we ran out of friends and relatives with little boys who were still littler than our son. As Trystan finally outgrew things, we had no easy way to give them away. So they accumulated. And accumulated.

Friday was a day off school for Charlotte (but Trystan went preschool), so I seized the opportunity to haul the boxes out to my car. I filled my trunk. And the backseat. And the front passenger seat. And the floor under Charlotte's booster. We took it all to Once Upon a Child, a local resale shop. They spent about 45 minutes digging through my things and picked a few things they wanted. 35 items, $35. Well, $25 after Charlotte chose a few things off the racks for herself. Except 35 items barely made a dent in the stash.

Back at home, I moved all of the clothes out of the plastic storage boxes and into trash bags and loaded them into my husband's SUV so that I could safely transport children again. Then we lucked out. He was prepared to drive it all to a goodwill drop off site when I saw a sign at my daughter's school for a clothing drive. We unloaded them Tuesday morning.

I am happy to know that Trystan's outgrown clothes will good to a good cause. And I am even happier that my son can now choose his own clothes in the morning because I have room to hang them all low enough for him to reach (previously, the low rack was mostly crowded with boxes so his clothes were high up in the closet). We might even be able to store a few of his toys in his closet now and can make our basement family room a little less of a chaotic kid-mess. Well, maybe after we get the crib and changing table out of his room.

Anyone need a crib?


Kathy G said...

We have a Goodwill and a Vincent de Paul store close to the house, so it's easy to put things in the car and drop them off when I'm driving around. However, if it's after hours and I have things I want to get rid of I'll drop them in a container at one of the schools around here.

Bethany said...

Sounds like you're making progress. Our stack of donate/sell stuff has moved from one corner of the basement to another. My husband is such a packrat I have to go through things when he's not home or things wouldn't ever leave the house.