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National Declutter Week

March 7, 2012

Yes there really is such a thing as National Declutter Week and it starts today and runs until 18th March.

We are being encouraged to clear out any stuff which we no longer need or use. I’m all in favour of this. Why should things gather dust and take up space if someone else could be making use of them?

My first port of call is to pass things on to friends and family if they would find them useful.

If the stuff you want to declutter is in good condition and can still be used by someone else, then charity shops are a great place to take it.

Aled is growing so fast at the moment that we regularly take his too-small clothes to the local charity shops. We have also taken a travel cot and a portable highchair, and some baby toys and board books. I have also taken some of my books and dvds and clothes that I will never fit into again. I have even taken several pairs of virtually unworn shoes to charity shops after I discovered how comfortable my Hotter shoes are!

I use the gift aid scheme to boost the income that charity shops can generate from selling my unwanted stuff. For example, Oxfam e-mailed me last month to say that my donations over the last couple of years have made an additional £93 in gift aid (on top of the £367 that they would have made without gift aid). This seems pretty amazing to me.

I know I could probably have made some money by selling these items, perhaps through eBay. But I work full-time and my time outside work is precious, so I don’t want to take the time to photograph items, list them on eBay, and stick them in the post. Taking things to charity shops is extremely quick and easy, and it makes me feel good to do something that benefits a charity as well as ensuring that someone else can reuse items we no longer need. 

And while I am taking stuff to donate to charity shops, I always have a look around to see if there are any items I’d like to buy (they could be potential Magpie Monday items!). Having said that, I try to buy less than I donate because I don’t want to have to declutter too often.

We also use freecycle to get rid of items that are difficult to pass on to charity shops or people we know. For example, we have handed a hostess trolley, a pond pump, a chest of drawers and some reusable nappies onto freecyclers. And as well as freecycling we also recycle – paper goes in the recycling bin as soon as we’ve finished with it, so that it doesn’t pile up.

That said, I do save some items for sentimental reasons. I have kept handwritten letters from friends and sisters, because it is lovely to look back through them. I have also kept some tiny items of clothing from when Aled was a baby – including a cardigan knitted by my mum and a vest with a dalek motif cross-stitched on it by my friend.

I’d be interested to know if you have any tips for ensuring that clutter doesn’t take over your house. Is decluttering something you do little and often or do you prefer to have a big spring clearout?

9 Comments leave one →
  1. March 7, 2012 4:22 pm

    I got a similar email from my chosen charity the other day, after I signed up to Gift Aid my donations when I took the last bag about a month ago and it made me feel very proud. Like you, I am realising that my free time away from work is more valuable elsewhere, like sitting down to play with my daughter or dance with her. The email has made me feel like taking more stuff in this weekend, it’s a good reminder. No tips from me, I’m a bit useless but becoming better at taking photos of things that bring back memories, putting them in an album called precisely that “Memories” and then getting rid of the physical object and keeping the photo. So far it’s working 🙂

    • March 8, 2012 5:46 pm

      Thanks for your comment. It’s nice to know I’m not the only one who prefers to donate to charity shops rather than spending time eBaying stuff. I dance with my son too – dancing is good 🙂

      I also like your idea of photographing certain items and then getting rid of the items themselves.

  2. March 8, 2012 10:33 pm

    I try to declutter on a frequent basis. After being a magpie for many years I started moving around a lot and realised what a burden all that clutter was! And apparently less clutter is good for chi… 😉

    • March 10, 2012 10:38 am

      We’ve moved house a couple of times and it certainly makes you aware of how much stuff you’ve got!

      Also, my mother-in-law’s house has way too much stuff and that made my husband determined not to let our home get overrun. So, this is a moderating influence on my magpie tendencies 🙂

  3. March 10, 2012 3:20 pm

    We moved house recently so we had a clear out then, but I always seem to be at the charity shop with more bags of stuff, I don’t know where it all comes from! I also get a Gift Aid letter and it really motivates me to see how much money they have made from my things.

    • March 12, 2012 9:27 am

      Last time we moved house we had to clear out a massive amount of stuff, including 12 boxes of books and some furniture.

      As for where it all comes from, I am trying to buy less stuff these days. I get dvds from LoveFilm and Kindle books, so that is helping. Most of the recent clearouts have involved baby stuff and/or things that my son has grown out of.

      Glad you’re boosting your donations with Gift Aid. It is a bit of a faff – but worth it!

  4. March 11, 2012 11:36 pm

    Sounds like you’re doing great at managing your clutter Ruth. I help people all over the world declutter and create homes they love and I’m one of the organisers of National Declutter Week. ( I recommend little and often rather than massive, infrequent blitzes.

    National Declutter Week is particularly promoting hospice charity shops so, if you’re decluttering this week, please consider donating your saleable unwanted items to your local hospice charity shop.

    • March 12, 2012 9:21 am

      Thank you for your comments Rachel – and I like your website too.

      We tend to take the little and often approach combined with the occasional blitz.

      I know my local charity shops very well because I shop in charity shops regularly. So this means that I feel I know the range of items they sell and can donate items that will suit the shop. For example, the local Sue Ryder shop always has a good selection of baby things, so I took the travel cot and portable high chair there.

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