Determined to get your home looking perfect? Giving your excess stuff away is a great way to declutter your home and live more simply. These easy ideas can transform your life (and your home). Here’s how to get started.
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You open the wardrobe and your clothes fall out. Squeezing that last lid into the pots and pans drawer becomes as hard as doing a Sudoku, there’s so much in there already. You pile up books you’ll never read next to your bed, fill drawers with products you’ll probably never use and feel like you’re just, well, drowning in stuff.
Sound familiar? You’re not alone. In fact, surveys have found that two out of three of us would be happier living with less, and more simply. This move away from materialism is not surprising, says James Wallman, author of Stuffocation.
“As people get older they are less interested in having more things,” he explains. “As there are more people on our finite planet and more of them are becoming middle class, there is ever more pressure on resources. And as more of us move to cities, we are buying fewer cars, and our homes are getting smaller, meaning less room to put things.”
We want to feel safe and comfortable in our homes. And, he adds, we tend to view excess stuff in a negative way. “We think [stuff] means more hassle, more to manage and more to think about.” He’s right!
How to start the declutter process
If you’re keen to live a more minimalist life, it’s time to do two things:
a) Stop bringing things into your home (especially if you have a problem with clutter) and
b) Start donating your stuff to get it out of your hair and out of your home.
Ask yourself: 'Do I really need these things?'
A great strategy for doing this is what organisational guru Peter Walsh calls the ‘trashbag tango’.
“Wander around your house for 10 minutes a day and fill one garbage bag with garbage and the other with stuff you don’t need. If there are two of you, [and you] do that for a week, that’s 14 bags of trash and 14 bags of stuff to donate. If you do that for a month that’s 60 bags of trash and 60 bags of stuff you can donate. That’s 120 garbage bags out of your house for 10 minutes a day, in a month. But you have to stop stuff coming in at the same time. If you do that for a month, you will see a huge change.”
Where to donate your stuff
If your local charity bins always seem to be full, there are many other options are open to you. Here’s our go-to guide for the best places to declutter and donate.
1. Find the perfect (donation) match: Givit
If you’ve got specific things to get rid of, you can easily search this great website for items needed by charities around Australia. The site’s aim is to match ‘generosity with genuine need’ and to connect an online network of givers. You can clearly see which items are required by members of your local community and if you can help, great! You can also pledge items into the virtual warehouse and if a local charity wants the item, you will be connected to agree on a delivery option.
2. Furniture clear out: St Vincent De Paul
It’s easy to donate quality clothes, books, music, bric-a-brac by simply dropping in to your local Vinnies store, but if you have furniture to donate and no way to get it there, there are pick-up options in most Australian states. To find out the relevant numbers to arrange pick-up vist here.
Donating to your local Vinnies store helps recycle your unwanted things (Photo: Vinnies NSW/Facebook)
3. Declutter and donate: The Smith Family
If you live in NSW or the ACT, this charity accepts clean clothing, accessories, bedding with no stains or rips. Donations of furniture and bulky goods (non electrical items) can be accepted in certain regions of NSW only. There are clothing bins throughout NSW and the ACT and the charity also collects from homes and businesses in Sydney, the Central Coast, Wollongong, the Illawarra, the Blue Mountains and Canberra. Call 1300 737 166 to book a collection. Or to find a bin in your area visit The Smith Family.
4. Donate unwanted bras: The Uplift Project
Changed bra sizes and still have some old bras in good nick? Donate them to women in the Asia Pacific region who often can’t afford or obtain bras for themselves. This project helps to collect bras locally and distribute bras where needed. You can drop your bras off at specified addresses near you, or simply pop them in the post. To find out more click here.
Donating your spare bras can make a big difference to those who can't afford them (Photo: Uplift Project)
5. Help someone get a job: Wear for Success
This not for profit organisation gives disadvantaged people a suitable outfit for interviews and helps with career support training. It also runs programs helping a range of people needing support to find employment (including migrants, refugees, indigenous Australians, those with mental health issues and young people). If you live in Melbourne and can donate some professional workwear in good condition, visit the site for more info.
6. Good workwear wanted: Fitted For Work
This fantastic organisation offers mentoring, work experience opportunities, interview practice and resume writing to disadvantaged women seeking work – as well as a personal outfitting service in Sydney and Melbourne. They’re always looking for good workwear (including shoes, jewellery and handbags) that is clean, appropriate for interviews and in good condition.
Two out of three of us say we would be happier with less stuff
7. Donate old mobile phones: Canteen
Got an old mobile phone stashed away in a drawer that still works? Around 70 percent of Australians do, according to the Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association. Instead, put it to good use by donating it to Canteen, the youth cancer foundation. You can download a pre-paid label from the website and post your phone in to be recycled and resold – the money raised goes to establishing specialised cancer facilities around Australia.
8. More options: Give Now
Still not sure where to donate your clothes and other goods? This site features a list of places you can donate in your area and charities which accept everything from food parcels to books to blankets. Bikes, cars, corks, electricals and even land can also be given to select charities so remember, if you’ve got no use for it and it’s cluttering up your life, there’s a way to give it someone who needs it more.
What is your best decluttering tip? Join the conversation below.