It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the sheer volume of stuff we accumulate. And it’s hard sometimes to figure out how to part with things, what to do with them and where they should go. The experts at California Closets, the leader in custom home storage solutions, have you covered. Follow these tips to declutter your home and even do some good in the process.

1. Be ruthless.

Decluttering requires some brutal honesty. Do you really think you’ll get back into the “inspirational” items tucked into the back of the closet? Do you need a dozen versions of the exact same shirt? Take a long hard look at what you really wear and what you need, and donate the rest.

While you’re at it, put sentimentality on the back burner. We all get gifts from loved ones that don’t fit right, are a bad color or just aren’t quite right, but we hang onto them out of affection for the giver. Make them the ultimate re-gift by passing those items along to others in need instead of letting them take up your precious space. Examine your bookshelf, too. If you bought a book and haven’t read it in two years, odds are you won’t. Sell it online, or donate it to a nursing home, hospital or charity thrift store.

2. Take everything out of the closet.

Seeing that volume spread out instead of jammed together will help you get a better picture of it and assess what you really want to keep. As you replace items you want to keep, organize them by clothing type so that it’s easier to pull outfits together in the morning. You might even want to check out California Closets’ tips on how to feng shui your closet.

3. Clean out your bathroom cabinets.

October is “Talk About Your Medicines Month,” and it’s a great time to look at prescription bottles and over-the-counter medications and toss anything expired or no longer needed. To safely dispose of these items, check your local drugstore. Walgreen’s, for example, has a locked box to drop off any unwanted and expired medications, both prescription and OTC. Go through your makeup and personal grooming supplies and toss old lipsticks, broken eyeshadows and that hair gel that went horribly wrong while you’re at it.

4. Do a chemical clean out.

We all have bottles and cans of partially used cleaning products and other chemicals in our homes. Check under the kitchen sink, in the pantry or laundry room and in the garage for chemicals you just don’t need any more. Don’t just throw them in the trash— your local solid waste authority or waste management company will have information on how to safely dispose of them for the good of the environment and your home.

5. Listen to your feelings.

Japanese decluttering expert Marie Kondo believes that the things in your home should bring you joy. In her book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, Kondo says to actually hold each item and notice if it “sparks joy” or not. Choosing what you want to keep, rather than just what you want to discard, is her recommended path to decluttering and keeping things organized.

6. Donate and recycle.

Now that you’ve cleaned out items that you no longer need or want, don’t just throw them away. According to the Council for Textile Recycling, a full 5 percent of landfill space in the United States is taken up by clothing, shoes and other textiles. If you have items to sell in your discard pile, try eBay or a local consignment shop.
Online consignment retailer ThredUp will send you a postage-paid envelope for shipping items to them that they will sell for you. If your items don’t sell, they will ship them back to you at your cost or send them to a fabric recycler. Recycled fabrics end up as stuffing in pillows and toys, as cleaning rags or as other items. To find a fabric recycler in your area, check the Council for Textile Recycling website. You can recycle athletic shoes at Nike and Converse stores in the United States. There are a variety of programs in Canada that reuse and recycle used athletic shoes as well.
Need a bigger vehicle to tote all your items to the right places? FirstService Residential residents get special rates from Zipcar, making it easy to get a van or other larger vehicle for a short time. 

7. Take it community-wide.

Every year in the U.S., November 15 is both America Recycles Day and National Philanthropy Day! Take advantage of these events to schedule a community-wide day of recycling and donating unneeded goods to charity. Form a committee of interested residents to get the ball rolling. You’ll need to set up a donation area. Designate separate spaces for charity donations, general recyclables and hazardous materials like paint cans. Ask volunteers to staff in shifts, and arrange for a charity pick-up or for teams to deliver everything to the right location afterward. Your professional property management company can help you organize the event and spread the word to residents.
Experts say that decluttering and organizing our spaces make us feel more relaxed and in control. Turning down the “visual noise” that comes with overflowing shelves and closets helps reduce certain kinds of stress, too. With a little elbow grease and planning, it’s easy to declutter your home and make it more organized and efficient. Spreading that community-wide gives everyone an opportunity to do a lot of good while getting more peace of mind.
For more information on how your community can organize a recycling event, contact FirstService Residential, North America’s leading property management company.
Friday November 18, 2016