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Changing the World One Toaster at a Time: Tips for Downsizing and Donating Household Clutter

Created on Mar 14, 2014
Donation Toy Box | Tips to Declutter

Guest post by Garret Stembridge from Extra Storage Space

Some chores just have a knack for getting put off. I think we can all agree, cleaning out and organizing household clutter is one such task. After all, you never know when you might need that old bridesmaid dress or the set of purple curtains your sister-in-law gave you. We all have the tendency to horde – it’s human nature – but do you really need that set of trophies from your high school track team?

The truth is, getting rid of household clutter is much easier knowing your efforts are going to a worthy cause. Fortunately, there are a number of charities and donation centers – both local and online – that will receive your “clutter" with open arms. Here are some of the most commonly stockpiled items and some charitable tips on how best to pass them along.

Guide to places where you can donate all of your stuff!

Let's face it: that Rolling Stones T-shirt just doesn't fit any more. Why keep it in a box in the attic when there is someone out there that would cherish it dearly? If you find yourself wearing only a small fraction of the clothes you own, it's probably time to downsize.

Local thrift stores are probably the easiest option for donating old clothes. Not only does your donation get recycled for a cheap price, many thrift stores use the profits for a variety of noble causes. Be wary, however – there are for-profit thrift stores that are not tied to a particular charity. Do a little research, check credibility, and go with a non-profit thrift store that ultimately helps others.

While books often hold a certain level of sentimental attachment, many of them simply gather dust. Go through old cookbooks, children's books, and one-time novels, and decide what is really worth keeping.

Local libraries and schools are always a good bet for donating used books. Just a few: Reading Tree has book donation centers throughout the country, and will make sure your contribution is put to good use. Books for Soldiersallows you to create care packages with your used books and send them to deployed soldiers overseas. Books for Africa is another charity that sends huge crates of books oversees to students in Africa. And, Got Books? provides crates you can use to collect donations from your neighborhood. The group purchases your used books and cuts you a check, which you can give to the charity of your choice. 

If you are like most Americans, your house is probably stockpiled with "projects" that have been neglected for some time. Just know that there are a number of charities and non-profits that will gladly take those projects off your hands! In addition to thrift stores such as Goodwill, Salvation Army, and Habitat for Humanity (which will pick up your stuff), consider The National Furniture Bank Association. If there is a donation center near you, the NFBA will pick up your used furniture and distribute it to families in need. 1-800-GOT-JUNK is another safe bet for having your furniture hauled away, and will recycle or donate it when possible.

Kitchen stuff 
It's amazing how much we tend to horde pots and pans, dining sets, glasses, and all that other stuff that accumulates in the kitchen. Downsizing in the kitchen will not only help you get organized, but will clear the mind as well. There are literally thousands of charities that will gladly take such donations – it's just a matter of getting online and finding the right cause for you. It's OK – you are still #1 Dad, even if you no longer have the mug to prove it.

As Walt Whitman put it, "simplicity is the glory of expression." Indeed, there is something both liberating and rejuvenating about simplifying one's life, especially when doing so can help others. Organizing your household clutter doesn't have to be chore to be constantly put off. Go through your belongings, and consider their worth to you vs. their potential worth to others.

They say one man's trash is another's treasure. With this in mind, that orange bridesmaids dress might just be the perfect Halloween costume for some teenager out there...

Garret Stembridge is part of the team at Extra Space Storage, a leading provider of self-storage facilities. Garret often writes about storage and organization topics for homes and for businesses.

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