Stewardship of Life

De-Stuffing: Creative Ways to Clear Clutter

Posted in Just Living by Sharron R. Lucas on February 13, 2010
Tags: , , , , ,

The 2010 Lucas Clutter Cleanse continues; however, instead of a leisurely journey toward simplicity and spring cleaning, we are now on the superhighway of emptying the entire contents of the parsonage by early March. Yes, we are moving.

The traditional North American way of approaching relocation is to pack everything up, hire a professional mover or secure a truck, and take everything along. I did investigate the potential costs for such a move and found them to be quite more than I am willing to pay and frankly more than most of my stuff is worth. The alternative? Sell or give away everything possible and hit the road, knowing full well that “stuff” can be replaced.

This is not novel thinking at all—it’s just not the norm for our western culture. I mentioned in a previous post about my friend Ron and his family’s take on moving. Most people have a really hard time with his “leave it behind and start again” approach. How could someone give away great aunt Sally’s crocheted throw (Never mind that it has been sitting in the closet for a decade!) or dispose of little Johnny’s milk carton Santa Claus (Take a picture of 20-year-old John holding it!), or sell the family heirloom table that doesn’t go with your décor anyway? You get the picture. We hang on to our stuff for reasons of the heart and with great gobs of guilt.

Now that I find my family in the same situation, we have decided to leave it all behind except for what we can load into two cars, and a few boxes that will be mailed ahead. Some of my friends and associates think it’s a great idea, while others think I’ve lost my marbles.  

I won’t lie; it is a little strange watching the things that have at least partially defined our existence head out the door by the car and truckload, but it’s also amazingly freeing. What’s really wonderful is the knowledge that a particular item has a good home and will be used and enjoyed. Plus, I know that I will be on that side of the equation once we reach our destination.

So just how does one go about emptying a house? Here’s the way we’re doing it.

Host a virtual yard sale.

Winter in North Dakota is not a good season for yard sales. My solution was to set up a very basic blog and list the items I hope to sell and an asking price. I posted in categories and updated as things sold. The word spread through friends and colleagues, and within four days all the furniture was sold. Now I’m down to posting smaller items in lots. I can’t take credit for this approach; I learned about it from Leo Babuta. Thanks, Leo! This has been the best and easiest yard sale ever.

List items for sale on Craigslist, EBay, Amazon, or other websites.

This is a great approach if you have time and are willing to go to the expense of packaging and mailing purchases or meeting up with buyers.  I have greatly reduced my library thanks to Amazon and have listed a few collectible and expensive items on EBay.

Give items away via Freecycle.

Have something to share that you no longer need or want? There’s probably someone who would really like to have it. If you don’t believe me, list it with your local Freecycle chapter. Then, when you need something, before rushing out to buy it new, place a request online and you may just find someone else willing to share with you.

Give items to friends and to your favorite groups and non-profits.

If you have something you treasure that you know a friend of colleague would enjoy, by all means offer it to them!  

Do you have a lot of clothes you won’t be wearing anymore? Take them to your local charitable resale store or clothing closet. What about those boxes of markers, craft supplies, fabric, and yarn? Give them to a school, church, or community group who would be glad to have them.  Remember that books may also be donated to your local library.

Recycle the Rest

If you can’t sell, donate, give or share, then by all means recycle. Do your best to leave your current location with a light carbon footprint and goodwill.

I’ll keep you posted on our progress, but I’d really like to hear from you. If you’ve completed a move like this or have other ideas for how to de-stuff a house, please share your thoughts and ideas!

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