Deep down we know donating our unneeded (yet still functional) belongings is a great option to clear our homes of clutter. Everyone wins! We get a tax deduction and free up space while someone can get access to necessary clothes, furniture, or supplies at a low cost or no cost at all!
So, why is it so hard to do that?!
Donation procrastination happens.
You just made a TON of decisions about what to do with each item as you went through a stuffed closet (or maybe your whole home). The thought of making MORE decisions is probably nauseating. Have you ever been through this thought process before?:
Which donation location is closest?
Which organization have I researched and do I genuinely support?
Will this organization take everything I have to donate? Where can I donate the rest?
These bags are heavy, does a donation center do pick-ups? Can they come by tomorrow?!
I have to PAY them to pick-up my junk--er--stuff?
No pick-ups?! Are they open on the weekends when I’m actually free?
On second thought, do these items have any value?
Where can I make the most money: eBay, consignment, Facebook Market, garage sale?
Do I have room to keep them juuuuust a little bit longer?
Should I just throw it all away at this point?
(I’ll pause for a minute while you get a cup of coffee or splash cold water on your face.)
Just about everything takes time and money, so we have to get our priorities straight to help us refuel to make more decisions.
What goal is most important to you? (If multiple goals apply, then rank them):
Clear your home
Make extra money
Help the less fortunate
Save the earth
And which of these things are important to you long-term? Short-term goals are often are impulsive, so think through the benefits over time to see if they are in line with your more urgent feelings.
Your next step should be clearly defined once you finish this brief exercise.
If your #1 goal is to save time, then you will probably donate to whichever location is closest to you - BAM! Decision made. Now just make an appointment in your calendar to drop it off.
If your #1 goal is to help the less fortunate, then you will do research about organizations whose mission you agree with and will accept your items - GREAT! Get your phone and go straight to your web browser - do not check any Facebook notifications. You get the idea.
Take things one step at a time.
A ThredUp study - shared on Earth Day last year - found that if 1 in 100 American households cleaned out their closets in 2016, "it would generate 140 million clothing items—enough fabric to create a blanket big enough to cover the island of Manhattan.” And if that same amount of households shopped resale, “it would save over 1.1 billion pounds of CO2 emissions—the equivalent of planting 24 million trees.” Those numbers are astounding!
There are times when I work with clients and their #1 goal is to create space in their home. They have called on me because their space is compromised from holding onto things that are still functional, just not for them. They are usually paralyzed by even the thought of finding the right place to give their unwanted stuff. These well-meaning clients want me to give them permission to throw things away because they think that's the only solution.
When we work together, after a brief discussion about priorities, I can connect them to people and organizations that will reuse their stuff! Check out my Resources page which I constantly update.
There are so many options and places that will accept your donations. First, think of people and places that you encounter in your life who could benefit (crafty and handy neighbors, schools and community centers, local theaters, churches, homeless shelters). Once you exhaust those options, ask around and get creative! Maybe you won’t get a tax deductible receipt, but to remove clutter from your home and have it go to someone who can still use it may be enough!
Another way to avoid donation procrastination is to get better at only acquiring things you need. Google “minimalism” because I will barely be touching on it in this blog post!
You've probably heard the phrase, “Reduce, reuse, recycle." It is meant to be practiced in that order. If we reduce the amount that we use and buy, we will create less waste. Reuse what you have before tossing it - sounds practical enough. If you must get rid of it, recycle it so someone else can morph it into a park bench or insulation for your house.
If you feel very strongly, there’s a movement called Zero Waste, which is worth looking into. The idea is that you find ways to reuse everything and strive to create virtually no waste at all! It’s a gradual process to get there and an inspiring Facebook Group exists called, "Journey to Zero Waste,” where people share their repurposing wins and ask questions about how to be less wasteful. They are an incredible folk and I respect everyone who takes part. If you want to know more about it, we are lucky to have a Zero Waste consultant on our team!!! Contact me and I’ll put you in touch.
Also, New York City is hoping to send zero waste to landfills in 12 years.
In this season of giving, figure out what you need, then take one step, and then another to follow through for a win-win-win situation: Clear Home - Satisfied Recipients - Better Earth.