As the weather warms and life begins to spring forth after a lengthy frost, are you finding that your closet is bursting with excess or your home is a den for bunnies of the dusty variety?
Re-Imagine Your Space
Some of the most effective home beautification comes not from adding more in, but rather from taking away. Open the blinds, open the windows. Look around. What do you see? If there are areas that feel overwhelming to you (like that heaping pile of clothes and miscellany) or make you feel stressed just looking at it (I’m looking at you, cluttered bookshelf with reads I have yet to get to just staring me down…), tackle those first. What is it that you’d like to see instead? Is it a matter of simple organization, or could you stand to get rid of clutter? Be honest with yourself. If you’re a pack-rat, how is having stuff around you serving your life?
Simplify Your Stuff
This is where we get honest. All of us have too much stuff. Like, way too much stuff, and our blessings are suffocating us. Have you ever looked around your office, papers piled up and tchotchkes everywhere, and felt so overwhelmed you didn’t even know where to start? Or have you opened your expansive closet only to moan, “I have nothing to wear!” Bull. You’re simply drowning in abundance and it can be crippling. Instead, prioritize, pare down, and get clear on what you need. Want some guidance on getting started and letting go?
John Robbin’s book The New Good Life: Living Better in An Age of Less is a revelation, and shows that less is in fact, the new abundance. ZenHabits has a lovely guide for people who gotta have their stuff or love clutter. For a thought-provoking social experiment, check out Be More with Less, a blog about shedding material and emotional stuff that no longer serves you. Related Project 333 invites people to embark on a mini-mission of living with only 33 clothing items for three months. Yes, you read that correctly. Kind of compelling, isn’t it? Imagine what you could do, be, and accomplish with less crap.
And if you need to buy things (hey, we all do), why not check out your local thrift store, hold a clothing swap, or shop at companies and stores that are in-line with your values. We love Compassion Couture for their commitment to eco- and animal-friendly accessories, beauty, and apparel, and have teamed up with them for a Giveaway. Just join the free Vegucated Schoolhouse from now until May 31st, and you’re automatically entered to win a $50 gift certification to Compassion Couture. Win!
Put the Excess to Good Use
- Clothes: Donate Stuff, Salvation Army, Goodwill, and local drop boxes and organizations. The options here are truly endless, so no excuses.
- Furs: Put something cruel to work being kind. Find organizations via the Wildlife Rehabilitation Directory that will use old furs to comfort sick and injured wildlife.
- Formal Dresses: Donate My Dress, Cinderella’s Closet, Becca’s Closet. Let your old bridesmaid dress or wedding gown fulfill a girl’s dream of going to prom.
- Cold Weather Apparel: One Warm Coat, Emergency Clothes Closet. Explore local options, because there are A LOT.
- Business Attire: For women, Dress for Success. For men, Career Gear. Your suits will give homeless, reentering, or low-income individuals chance to ace a job interview.
- Eyeglasses, Reading Glasses, & Sunglasses: One Sight by Lenscrafters, New Eyes for the Needy, Unite for Sight.
- Running Shoes: Share Your Soles, Recycled Runners. Give homeless runners and people in developing countries a chance to enjoy your shoes.
- Backpacks: Backpacks for Kids, Give a Kid A Backpack, School on Wheels.
- Luggage: Donate Luggage connects you to charities that will use your donation for kids in foster care, families suffering from domestic violence, and other worthy causes.
- Bedding + Towels: Your local animal shelter will take these in a heartbeat, because pups and cats need soft, people-smelling blankies to feel comfy. This is an awesome guide on reusing and donating these items.
- Furniture: Salvation Army, Charity Shops, Group Homes. Explore locally, as different organizations have pick-up and drop-off options.
- Kitchen Items: Some homeless shelters, non-profit culinary programs, and group homes will accept certain donations of kitchen ware.
- Power Tools: Community woodworker programs, job-training programs, and certain after-school programs will accept donations of tools.
- Books: Holy moly, there are so many marvelous options for donating books. Explore them here.
- Used Appliances, Cabinetry, and Carpentry Materials: There are many manufacturers and organizations that will take your donations, including Habitat for Humanity and the American Council for the Blind. Refer to this guide for more details.
- Used Computers + Phones: You can e-cycle your used computer, or you can donate to the Make-A-Wish Foundation or organizations that assist victims of domestic violence. Check out the universe of options here.
- DVDs, Video Games, CDs: I used to work at a group home for children in the foster care system. Let me tell you, those kids badly wanted a gaming console like the kids they went to school with. They also delighted at movie night and listening to CDs. Look at local options for donating age-appropriate electronics to kiddos in need.
- Canned Goods + Non-Perishable Food: Your local food bank will always take items that are in good condition, within expiration, and non-perishable.
- Bikes: Bikes for the World.
- Sports Equipment: Sports Gift, Peace Passers, One World Running.
- Musical Instruments: Mr Holland’s Opus Foundation, which connects kids with instruments, and Operation Happy Note which donates instruments to soldiers serving overseas.
Repurpose with Gusto
Even some of the smallest, seemingly dingiest spaces are full of possibility. My favorite living space was a tiny apartment in a fifth-floor walk up that had a kitchen the size of a fingernail (yes, it was very small). Why did I love it so? I made it mine. I was on a tight budget, but I’d find cute things (like that folding chair on the side of the road), paint it up, and repurpose it as a plant stand. Everywhere I looked, the place had my touch, my favorite colors, and was functional enough because I kept clutter to a minimum.
If there are items that you just can’t part with, but they’ve outgrown their function for you, is there a way you can repurpose it or give it new life? Can those ripped concert t-shirts be made into a soft, nostalgic throw? Can that old wine rack be painted and redirected to hold your magazines or throw blankets? Can that cracked bowl be turned in to a planter with a few quick fixes? That rusty old end table? Give it new life by painting it a vibrant share of marigold. The internet is loaded with remarkable repurposing guides and resources, like My Repurposed Life, Apartment Therapy, Centsational Girl, and Ikea Hackers.
Clean with Natural Compassion
- Vegan Mainstream – Make Your Own Vegan Cleaning Products
- The Daily Green – Natural Cleaning Recipes for Spring Cleaning
- Healthy Blender Recipes – Natural Cleaning Products Recipes
- YumUniverse – Cleaning Resources