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a pile of folded jeans being packed into a box

Making clutter count: Decluttering during the pandemic

The pandemic has forced us to spend more time at home, with many of us eating, working, studying and relaxing in the same space for the past year. Lots of us have been working alongside school science experiments, created hand sanitizer stations and squeezed loo rolls into cupboards unusually full of extra pasta, flour and beans.

Whatever pandemic living has looked like for you, the things and space around you have probably become much more noticeable and you may even have been inspired (or forced) to declutter your surroundings in order to live more comfortably indoors.

Decluttering advice from the experts

We asked our APDO members what tips and advice they had for decluttering during a pandemic and how to get rid of the stuff you no longer need.

Sue Spencer of A Life More Organised is a certified KonMari consultant and encourages people to understand first of all the reason they want to declutter and make a difference. “I know this isn’t anything new, but it’s always a useful reminder for people working on their own” says Sue. “Recognising your motivation and having a clear view of how you want your home to look and feel not only gives you the incentive to get going, but it also acts as a check back on whether to keep items. It provides useful incentive too if you get to a sticking point halfway through and it all feels a bit much”.

Carole Reed from HappySort acknowledges that, “it has been, and continues to be, difficult to declutter because charity shops are closed and most are not accepting donations”.

Where to donate your decluttered items

So, what can you do with your decluttered cast offs?

Carole suggests that you earmark a box or bag in which to put items that are no longer needed. It will be easier to dispose of the item when the time comes if you have already removed it from your living space. This will help you keep on top of your clutter until charity shops re- open.

Sue goes on to suggest that, if you are desperate to get the items out of your house, a number of charities are accepting postal donations. For example, many hospices are accepting donations online or at safe mobile sites which you can check out online.

Shelter, Air Ambulance and British Heart Foundation are all accepting donations of clothing via post-in boxes up to 10 kilograms, measuring up to 60cm x 50cm x 50cm.

Other organisations accepting donations by post include, Smalls for All, Re-Fashion.co.uk and Alzheimer’s Society.

And for further advice about donating, some of our APDO members have put together this post “10 ways to donate your decluttered items that you may not have thought of!” which is packed full of ideas and organisations where you can make your clutter count.

Planning your decluttering

Amanda Terry from An Organised Youhttps://www.anorganisedyou.co.uk/ says “Ask yourself, ‘If I don’t have a use for something anymore, is there someone I know or a cause that will benefit from my decluttering as well as benefiting my own space and wellbeing?'”.

Like Amanda, Esme Fisher of Tidy Coaching suggests identifying charities or companies which are taking donations or selling items during the pandemic, and then specifically decluttering the items they are accepting.

Esme also suggests that you set yourself manageable goals. “Declutter one category of items at a time, for example, clothing and make sure the items have left your home before you start on the next decluttering task. If you don’t work in this methodical way, your donation bags will build up and become even more overwhelming than the clutter!”

clothes rails and shelves in an organised charity shop

Using social media

Facebook community groups have worked well for many. They are a way for local people to give things away during lockdown as they may otherwise not have been able to pass things on until shops reopen.

For example, Bibi Rodley and Kate Curtis-Evans at Simply Organised Essex say that one of their clients has recently relocated from America. Some of her furniture is too big for her new home in Essex because American-style houses can be larger and more open plan. As they explain, “She had to get rid of her very large bookcases quickly before her new ones arrived. This was at Christmas, during lockdown and she didn’t know what to do. We suggested she tried the local community Facebook group and the bookcases sold within a day. She has used Facebook again to dispose of larger items that her children had outgrown, both through giving things away and by selling them”.

Louise Simpson of Louise Simpson Coaching agrees. “Facebook community groups are a great way to find your local charities and you can start by putting up a post asking for details. Most charities have a Facebook page and often post details of the items they are most in need of, but they usually welcome a call to check too”.

Louise goes on to explain that, throughout the pandemic, her local women’s refuge and homeless charities have needed donations more than ever as they have been faced with an increasing number of people needing their support. “You can help by donating lots of items, from food to clothing”, she says.  “They also need items such as furniture and kitchen items to help people get set up in new homes. You can help someone start over with the things taking up space in your home which you no longer have a use for. Due to infection controls they have even been asking for carrier bags to hand out items – no better excuse to clear out that growing stash in your cupboard and why not fill them with items to donate?”

Mel Carruthers of More Organised agrees. As a Trustee for her local refugee action charity, Mel has seen the pandemic’s effect on our decluttering from both sides, both as a professional organiser and as a charity volunteer. “Our depot has been closed throughout the pandemic”, she explains. “But that hasn’t stopped us being able to provide support where we can, usually by issuing requests for help through our social media pages. For example, last weekend we collected unwanted luggage and camping equipment to send to asylum seekers in London. When we heard of the acute need, we were able to tell our followers, ask them to declutter those items, and arrange for them to be safely dropped off at our depot”.

So keep an eye on your favourite charity’s social media. Their shops may be closed, but their work continues, and they need your support at the moment more than ever. And they may be able to give you a solution for your decluttered items.

Upcycling

If you can’t find anywhere to take your donations, maybe you could turn your hand to an upcycling project.

Stephanie Rough of The Organised Zone recommends reusing bottles to make a terrarium. She explains, “A lovely bottle of local gin from some friends now sits on the windowsill providing lots of lovely memories of our former home and, best of all, it’s very low maintenance! If you are green fingered, you can create these yourself or find a producer such as Gin Garden”.  She adds, “Another popular idea is for you to fill empty bottles with string lights to add sparkle to any entertaining area inside or out”.

a bottle upcycled into a terrarium

Anabel Morte Rodenas from Make Room With Anabel says, “If you are a bit like me and don’t like to throw away bags, I’ve found a clever way to upcycle them, reducing clutter and improving organisation, win, win!! Use them as containers, for drawer organisation, for snacks, you name it. For paper bags, just cut them across – I use zig-zag scissors for a fun touch. You can also fold them to the right height. For the plastic ones, I find folding them gives them strength”.

If these suggestions have sparked an interest in upcycling, APDO member Linda Cavallini interviewed interior designer and upcycling expert Lynne Lambourne for Spring Clearing Week recently in this post “Upcycling: Design that won’t cost the earth“.

a photo grid showing bags being cut up into drawer dividers

If you’ve decided to declutter during the pandemic but are stuck about what to do with your unwanted things, your local declutterer and organiser will be able to help. Check out the Find an Organiser database to find your nearest professional.

 

clothes rails and shelves in an organised charity shop

Top tips to clear out the clutter after lockdown

Many of us spent some time during the pandemic-inflicted lockdown to declutter our homes. Due to the restrictions though, it has been harder to find places to take our donations and recycling. So in this post, Lynda Wylie of Tidy Rooms in Surrey looks at the options, and explains how she has been managing her decluttering in these unusual times. Read on and get inspired!

Decluttering after lockdown

If you had a bit of a clear out during lockdown, you are not alone. WRAP (Waste & Resources Action Programme) recently published a report which found that two in five UK citizens (41%) had a textile clear out during lockdown. They also estimate that as many as 22 million pairs of shoes and 67 million clothing items will soon need to be disposed of.

My own street frequently resembled a jumble sale during lockdown. All kinds of delightful things appeared outside my neighbours’ homes with ‘Please Take’ signs stuck to trees and walls.

A hand drawn for sale sign pinned to a tree

Not only did I acquire a rake and a shovel, but I also shifted books and kids’ toys from my own front drive.  I loved seeing everyday things being upcycled and getting a new lease of life from passers-by.

The closure of charity shops, refuse sites, and clothing banks, led to some of our clutter spilling out onto the streets. The re-opening of these much-missed services last month brought a renewed appreciation of them and an excitement about getting rid of our backlogs.

However, charity shops have had to significantly adapt their premises and procedures in order to prevent contamination and, with a generally older volunteer base, they haven’t had their usual workforce in place to operate as before. Some remain closed or unable to process donations, while some council refuse sites have restrictions and booking procedures in place.

So, how do you clear your clutter quickly and easily after lock down? I think the answer is found in the creativity and perseverance I’ve witnessed in my street in recent months. It’s not necessarily about spreading your possessions out on the pavement, but about being open to doing things a bit differently.

 

Organise your charity shop drop off

  • Call the charity shop before you turn up with a boot load of stuff. Anything left outside often has to be cleared at cost by the council or charity and cannot be used or sold because of health and safety issues. To avoid the temptation to drop and go, check first whether they are accepting donations.
  • Plan your day with an early drop off. Shops are currently required to store items for 72 hours before processing them and they don’t tend to have large storage areas. Once they’ve reached capacity, they can’t take any more.
  • Identify a ‘To Go’ area in your home where you can gather your donations before calling to check when and what you can deliver. This will help you feel you are making progress and give you an idea of volume before setting off.

Investigate postal and courier donation services

There are some great organisations offering free collection services for donations. To name a few:

  • Re-fashion, an online preloved clothing store, provides postal bags to donate female clothing for free
  • Smalls for All accepts new or gently worn bras
  • For your vintage treasures, Vintage Cash Cow accepts all kinds of glorious items by free post – and you can earn some money through them too!
  • Recycling for Good Causes takes outdated technology and devices

With a little perseverance you may find a more creative way to dispose of your stuff.

a box of donated books

Reuse your carrier bags

Many online supermarkets aren’t currently recycling used carrier bags so if you’ve got a plastic stash nestled in a corner of your kitchen, here are some handy tips:

  • Put a handful into the bottom of a small bin, perhaps in your bathroom or bedrooms. Line the bin with a bag. Next time you empty the bin, simply tie up the bag and re-line the bin with one of the bags stored underneath.
  • Invest in a carrier bag holder to contain and dispense of your bags more easily.
  • Donate bags to your local charity shop who may be able to use them for customer purchases.
  • Store them in your car boot ready to reuse on shopping trips or for in-car rubbish.
  • Pop a handful into your PE, swimming and beach bags for wet or muddy kit.

Try online sites

Donating or selling online can be wonderfully satisfying. I became such a huge fan of Facebook Marketplace during lockdown that it became a bit of a family talking point:

  • I sourced three desks so each member of my family could have a suitable workspace at home
  • I bought and upcycled a wrought iron bench for impromptu lockdown conversations
  • I sold my bike and bought another to get more exercise
  • I even disposed of a single bed and replaced it with a double.

This all enabled me to declutter and organise my son’s bedroom, garage, living room and even my front garden. I surprised myself!

Neighbourhood sites such as Nextdoor, Freegle and Freecycle can be great for disposing of your things locally.

Like  me you will find your favourite routes.

However you manage to get rid of your clutter, don’t let the extra effort stall your decluttering project. The benefits of living in a clutter-free home will far outweigh any extra creativity or time required to dispose of your things.  The new-found appreciation I’ve gained during lockdown for simpler and slower living has made this time a brilliant season for me and my family to get creative and get clutter-free. How about you?

If you’ve been inspired to declutter over the past few months you can find more advice on decluttering your home here.

 

 

Recycle Logo

6 ways to avoid waste while decluttering

After several generations of accumulation and prosperous consumerism behind us, decluttering and minimalism is on the rise. With climate change and plastic reduction a normal part of our everyday thoughts, items getting added to landfills are becoming a hurdle for people looking to have less. Professional organiser Jodi Sharpe from The 25th Hour in Inverness is here with her top tips on avoiding waste while decluttering.

One of the statements I frequently hear from people who get in touch with me for help on the decluttering front is that “I can’t part with xxx, as it’s just so wasteful”. We’ve all done it; made that irrational, unnecessary purchase, left a piece of clothing with its tag still on at the back of the wardrobe or “lost” a sauce in the cupboard only to find it passed its use by date! We often hold onto things because we feel guilt that it is somehow wasteful, but leaving items to collect dust in your home is wasteful because they could be getting used by someone else. So here are my 6 ways to avoid waste while decluttering by passing on your items:

1 – SHARE & BORROW

Loaning an item can save both space (from storage), time (for upkeep and maintenance) and money (initial purchase). Things like drills, a car roof box for a one-off camping trip or even a squash racket to try out a new sport are all things that can be easily passed around a group of friends. Over the last few years there has been an emergence of centres which facilitate sharing. One such venture is “The Library of Things”. As the name suggests it works like a traditional lending book library but has a much broader collection of things available. Even if you don’t live near a “borrow” shop of this ilk, you can still make an effort to find a possible solution from friends, families and neighbours. You also get the added bonus of social interaction, something often missing in our communities.

2 – PASS IT ON

Charity Shops accept a whole host of things that can be given a new life. Some will even come to your home to pick up your donations. Most donations are expected to be in good condition so they can be resold, but many larger charities will also take stained, torn or very worn clothing and sell them on as rags for recycling. Old textiles can be turned into carpets, cleaning cloths and even insulation. If you are unsure what your chosen charity will take, then just give them a quick call.

Cloths on Display

3 – SET IT “FREE”

Freecycle” & “Freegle” are just 2 good examples of online platforms that allow you to offer items that may not quite fit the criteria required for charitable operations, but are still in great usable condition. I have used these websites to easily pass on used paint, hangers, magazines and padded envelopes. Another great option are animal sanctuaries who welcome bedding like pillows and blankets to help their furry friends feel comfortable.

4 – RECYCLING

As well as your limited standard kerbside home recycling, there is an ever increasing range of things that can be recycled. “Terracycle” are an organisation aiming to eliminate the idea of waste by recycling the unrecyclable ! They have free programmes for crisp packets, contact lenses, pens, coffee pods and more. Not all areas are covered so pop over to https://www.terracycle.com/en-GB/ to see what is available near you. Another fabulous opportunity that is often overlooked is plastic bags such as bread and veg bags and even bubble wrap, that can now be collected at most major supermarkets. Last but not least, don’t forget to look into your local recycling centre options that can take mattresses, electronics, scrap metal, batteries and much, much more.

5 – SELLING

Although this can take a little longer than donating, it can be very fruitful. Online auction sites such as ebay, car boot sales and social media “buy & sell” pages, allow access to large audiences. If you have an abundance of dvds, books or games, then organisations like “Ziffit”, “Music Magpie” or “World of Books” will buy them directly from you.

Money

6 – REPAIR & RENEW

Keeping things in action longer is vital for all of us to embrace as we seek to increase the sustainability of our planet. It is often the case that repairing something is expensive, time-consuming and sometimes not possible. Fortunately, as environmental and ethical considerations are increasing, we are starting to see good solutions sprouting up. Repair cafes are mostly free to use (you have to pay for the parts you need), and are an exciting option to gain knowledge with a helping hand to repair all sorts of things. Sewing and darning are also having a resurgence to extend the life of our favourite clothes. “Visible mending” is becoming more popular, whereby the pattern created from the sewing repair is now part of the appeal. This is not dissimilar to “kintsugi” seen in Japan where, rather than disguising breaks in pottery, the cracks are enhanced with golden seams. Upcycling is also becoming increasingly more mainstream and accessible with Pinterest arguably being a leading source of inspiration.

In order to maintain a well-organised home, it is absolutely essential to have considered how you will stop the onslaught of “stuff” that keeps on sneaking in. Make sure you’ve considered how you’ll deal with junk mail, gifts and freebies – the major contributors to clutter. When you’re out shopping, stick to your list, and think about the hard work you’ve put into removing clutter from your life.
It is possible to part with “stuff” responsibly and not feel guilty about letting it go. It does take an extra bit of thinking and a shift of mindset, but it is so worth it.

Jodi Sharpe

Jodi Sharpe of the 25th Hour

Professional organisers and declutterers are experts in finding efficient ways to give your clutter new life.

You can find your nearest organisers in the  “Find an Organiser” section on the APDO website.

Photo of man looking at pile of coins on table

Clear Your Clutter For A Tidy Profit

On Saturday 11 March, Jasmine Birtles, founder of self help money site Money Magpie is running the second ever UK National Clear Your Clutter Day. She will be encouraging people all over the UK to declutter their homes – and their lives – to gain freedom, space and a useful pile of cash! In this guest blog, she shares some of her tips for making money out of the junk that households don’t need anymore.

clear your clutter day
APDO members probably know better than most just how much junk the average home has.Of course, professional organisers are not generally expected to sell their clients’ goods, but it’s worth being aware of what some items could be worth if they were sold.

Happily there are now a few more outlets that will help to sell items quicker than you might expect, so with some of the junk at least, your client can get it out of the door and make some money all in one go.

Here are a few ideas for making money from the different types of junk that clients have finally decided to throw out:

DVDs, CDs and more?

Now is the time to make money by selling these as the market for them will only decrease with time as more and more people download them or subscribe to streaming services like Netflix.

If your client has shelves full of lovely old programmes, films and concerts they could be making instant cash from them through sites like Zapper and Ziffit If they have a lot of items the company will generally arrange to collect them for free. If there are just a few books and CDs they can send them for free.

It’s quick to upload the details and you get an instant quote for everything and either a payment through PayPal or a cheque in the post in a few days time.

Vintage and antique items

Here’s where your clients could potentially make some sensible money. Even if the family heirlooms were bought on the pier at Blackpool back in the day, your client could be pleasantly surprised at how much they might get now.

Collectibles often sell well on eBay. Find out how much you might get by putting the name or description of your collectible into the search bar and then clicking on ‘sold’ on the left-hand sidebar. You will see how much similar items went for. You’re often best uploading things on a ‘Buy It Now’ basis rather than auction in order to get the best price.

For more valuable items try the local auction house. Most of them have on-site specialists who can advise on a myriad of collectibles and minor antiques and will usually provide you with free verbal valuations.

If your client thinks they have something really valuable, email or send a picture and description of it to Sotheby’s, Christies or Bonhams in London. They will come back to them with a valuation.

Sometimes, a few items aren’t worth selling on their own at an auction house but they could be sold in one lot. Ask the auctioneers if this would be an option

Get rid of old gadgets

You’d be surprised at how much you can get for some gadgets, even if they’re ‘ancient’ technology or broken. There’s a growing market for gadgets of all sorts as you can see in this article.

It can be worth getting the client to search around on eBay for how much broken versions of their old gadgets are selling for and then either uploading them individually or selling them as a job lot on the site.

Mobiles
Your client can make money by recycling their old mobile phones. Even battered, ancient ones can be recycled for parts. You can make up to £200 for good ones, particularly iPhones. Try the mobile phone recycling tool here on MoneyMagpie.com [http://www.moneymagpie.com/make-money/make-money-recycle-mobile-cash] to find the best deal.

Printer cartridges
A few companies will pay for old printer cartridges. Cash for Cartridges for example will pay you £4.50 per item.

Odd electronic bits
Sometimes people sell a bundle of wires, adapters, odd bits of electronics that nobody recognises which are bought by enthusiasts or engineers who need the parts. Put them in a box and upload a picture with a description of the contents to eBay.co.uk and see what you get. You might be pleasantly surprised!

Selling alternatives

eBay is a wonderful resource for people needing to de-junk, but a few other sites are worth considering too.

 Facebook Groups
The best thing about Facebook Groups where you can sell items is that they are free. They’re local so you’re generally selling to people who are not too far away and that makes them handy for large items like furniture. But people are selling anything and everything on them, so it’s worth seeing what is available in your clients’ areas.

Gumtree
Again, Gumtree is local and, often, free. You have to be aware of the fraudsters that lurk there – rather like Craigslist in America – but as it has been going for so long, there are still a lot of people who look there first for certain items like cars and furniture.

Let everyone know about Clear Your Clutter Day where you can see some APDO members talking about how to declutter, how to organise and how to do it all on the cheap! If you need a helping hand to motivate you through feelings of overwhelm or provide a structured plan, find a local professional organiser.