IT’S 2021 AND WE DARE YOU TO DECLUTTER
21 Things You Can Sort, Recycle, Repair or Toss Right Now
If you’re like the rest of us, you’ve forcefully kicked 2020 to the curb and are ready to give 2021 and big, warm, welcoming hug.
Why not get the New Year off to a great start by tackling some of the clutter that’s lying around? You know what we’re talking about: those outworn, broken, unused or just plain forgotten items taking up precious space in your home.
You know it’s got to be done but it just all seems so daunting. You’re not even sure where to start. No worries. We’ve provided a quick checklist of some of the more common areas where clutter seems to collect so you – amazing clutter tamer that you are – can show it who’s boss.
Every kitchen has one: it’s where things are haphazardly tossed and then seemingly lost forever in a maze of cords, pens, batteries and twist ties. Take 30 minutes and sort through it. The use of inexpensive (and indispensable) drawer organizers helps keep things in place.
Hit the pantry and check those best before dates. While some dry goods may be okay to leave for a bit, in most cases the taste or efficacy of a product diminishes over time. Add it to your organic waste and make a note to restock with your next trip to the grocery store.
Still hanging on to all those plastic containers from yogurt, dips, soups and other ready-to-serve foods? Not sure what to do with that old cracked or chipped dinnerware? Recycle, recycle, recycle. Chances are you won’t use the plastic and it’s never safe to use chipped dinnerware.
Having broken down or irreparable large appliances around doesn’t just minimize your curb appeal, they’re also health hazards as they can be a haven for mice or squirrels. And old fridges or dryers can be a danger for small children as they are often mistaken for “hiding places”. Most regions now offer drop off depots for recycling appliances.
BATHROOMS & BEDROOMS
Having expired over-the-counter drugs, old prescriptions or unused dosages in the house can be dangerous, especially if there are little ones around. Any OTC or prescription drug can be dropped off anonymously at any pharmacy across Canada anytime throughout the year.
Makeup & Brushes
The shelf life of makeup can vary: mascara should be replaced every three months while blush and powder can last up to two years. When it comes to brushes, if you typically have a set of preferred make up brushes that you use on a regular basis, it might also mean there are unused ones taking up unwanted space in your bathroom drawer.
Simple rule of thumb: if they’ve outgrown it or outworn it, then it’s time for it to go. Keep a plastic tub handy so you can toss in those clothing items that can be regularly donated or recycled.
Are there items you no longer wear but are still hanging on to? Pieces that are out of style or out of season? Maybe some with rips or tears that you’ve been meaning to get mended but just haven’t gotten around to yet? It’s time to lighten the load.
The same principle that applies to your clothes can also be applied to your costume jewellery. If you haven’t worn it in a while or it doesn’t appeal to you anymore, then it’s time to say farewell.
It’s nice to have a couple of spare blankets and towels around for when company visits but if your linen closet is overflowing, it’s a good time to purge. Old towels can be relegated to the garage or, if still in good condition, donated. Local pet shelters are often in need of towels and blankets to assist with their operations.
FAMILY ROOM / MEDIA CENTRE / PLAY AREA
Electronics, Cords & Cables
DVD players, game consoles, laptops, cords, cables and other electronics that are not being used or are simply obsolete should be taken to the nearest electronic recycling facility. If you’re 86’ing a laptop, make sure the hard drive has been wiped clean or destroyed to avoid the potential of any personal information being unintentionally discovered.
CDs & Records
The advent of streaming music through local cable providers and online platforms like Spotify, Apple and Amazon has virtually removed the need for a CD library. If you haven’t opened your CD jewel cases in a few years, why not pack them all up and let someone else enjoy them? If you’ve a passion for vinyl, pick a few favourites then donate (or sell) the rest.
Books & Magazines
An avid reader? Try implementing the “one in, one out” rule: if you bring one home, you remove one from your existing library. Better yet, box up the ones that you’ve already read and donate to an organization that can resell them to help support local programs. Bonus: going virtual through a platform like Amazon or using an e-reader like a Kindle means no paper and no clutter. Another tip: most magazines are now offered in an electronic format.
Toys & Games
Outgrown, outplayed or broken. Whatever the reason might be that your kids aren’t playing with certain toys anymore means one thing for you: it’s time for them to be either donated or tossed. Plastic ones can be recycled and electronics can be dropped off at local depots. (Remember to remove the batteries.) If the toys are still in good condition, check with local daycares or community centres to see if they’d accept them. Some toy manufacturers even offer their own free recycling program by partnering with eco-companies like TerraCycle.
This includes everything from candle holders and knick-knacks to pictures and display pieces. If it’s sitting in a closet and hasn’t seen the light of day in a while, consider donating to a local organization. Your good taste could make someone else very happy with their good find.
SPORTS & OUTDOORS
Soccer balls, hockey pads, football helmets, baseball bats – you get the picture. If it’s broken, outgrown or just not being used anymore, then it’s time to go. (Hint: used equipment can be donated so others can enjoy playing.)
It’s so easy to let clutter take over in the shop, shed or garden areas. Take a walk around and make note of what needs to be repaired, recycled or relegated to the waste bin.
DON’T FORGET ABOUT THESE
Have hundreds of images taking up space on your phone? Take some time to go through them and delete the ones that are no longer needed or are of poor quality. Archive the ones you want to keep via cloud storage.
These are the pieces that you’re emotionally attached to: an old doll, a picture or maybe even a piece of clothing. Having them around might provide you with a sense of comfort as they typically trigger fond memories. But if the items have out served their purpose for you and are simply taking up space, consider letting them go by either donating them or passing them on to another family member. (This is not to say that your past isn’t important or that the person who gave you something shouldn’t be remembered; rather it’s you acknowledging that you don’t always need physical reminders to recall special people, moments or memories.)
You have our permission to be absolutely ruthless here. If there are items around the home that are broken, you need to look at them critically and decide which of the four R’s they belong to: can it be repaired, does it need to be replaced, can it be recycled or should it be rejected (tossed)?
“I Might Need That Someday”
If it’s sitting in the back of the closet or on the top shelf of the cupboard (and still unopened or in the original box), it’s not on your radar and likely never will be. For all those items that you’re holding on to because you figure you “might need them someday”, there’s no better time to bid them farewell while gently reminding yourself that someone else will probably get more use out of them than you ever would.
The trick to taming all that clutter is to not try and get it all done at once (because you won’t) and this kind of focus often leads to frustration or disappointment – either one of which can cause you to abandon your efforts. Stay focused, be consistent and build in rewards (hello, rosé) as you go along. Before you know it, the clutter will be gone and you can reclaim your space.