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.
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.
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.