DISCARD * RECYCLE * DONATE * SELL * KEEP
I’ve heard it’s a blogging faux pas to post more than once in the same day. I’ve never been good at avoiding those, and this is no exception. In my defense, I will say that this is a direct continuation of the first post, but different enough in tone that I felt it should stand on its own.
Each item that passes through my hands and in front of my eyes as I declutter should be placed in one of five boxes. It’s not practical to sit five literal boxes out for this purpose, as I’d be tripping over them every time I turned around. If I did, though, they’d be labeled with these five words: discard, recycle, donate, sell, and keep.
It should not be difficult to categorize each item. In fact, thinking about it for more than a few seconds will likely cause me to second-guess the initial, correct assessment I made of each item’s ultimate fate. Perhaps I should approach them in the reverse order, although I liked the original order because it emphasized the idea of getting rid of as many things as possible.
This box is filled with the items that truly matter. Those that serve a practical purpose in my daily life, such as dishes I regularly eat from. Those that further my career goals, such as books on acting technique. Those that are most useful in the hobbies I choose to continue, such as my interchangeable knitting needle set. Finally, those that hold irreplaceable sentimental value, such as the play kitchen my family built for me when I was a toddler. The KEEP box is designed for all these items which it would physically hurt to part with.
This box is filled with two types of items. First there are those that I have no desire to keep but which have sufficient monetary value and appeal to others that it would be beneficial to go to the trouble of selling them. A spare television, for instance, or a nice purse. The other items in the SELL box also have monetary value and appeal to others, but I do want to keep them. The impractical, mushy, sentimental packrat part of me gets a little teary-eyed at the thought of letting them go, while the majority of me is shouting that these items are just holding me back. These items go into the SELL box because the thought of getting a few dollars to use toward current interests softens the blow of parting with the old interests. This is the box for books I used to love but will never read again, the box for yarn I’m no longer inspired by.
This box is filled with all the remaining items which have value to others, but not enough to make it worth the struggle of selling them. The items which would sell for less than a couple of dollars if I were ever insane enough to hold a yard sale again. (Here’s a hint: I will not ever be that insane again.) The items that would cost more than their value in gas or shipping to sell through Craigslist or eBay. The DONATE box is filled with the shirts that don’t quite flatter, the pants that don’t quite button, the knickknacks given to me by people who have since broken my heart.
This box is filled with the items that do not even hold enough value to be donated, but do fit neatly into a category for which recycling programs are readily available. These are the syllabi from college courses, the brochures picked up at highway rest areas, the plastic containers I thought would one day be used to sort craft supplies. The RECYCLE box fills up with items meant to be transitory, which got delayed in their path from receiving to consuming to recycling.
This final box may as well be a trash can standing by, as it fills with everything transitory that cannot be recycled. Or rather, that cannot be recycled without expending unreasonable effort. There are recycling programs for nearly everything these days, but driving my old newspapers and tin cans and plastic bottles to the recycling center is the most effort I’m willing to put in. Stashing away candy wrappers at a rate of one or two per month only to have to mail them to a recycling center is above and beyond the call of duty. So the DISCARD box/trash can is there to collect the broken toys, the used up emery boards, the metal coil from a spiral-bound notebook as I try not to feel guilty about sending things to the landfill.