As April nears its end, many of us at Brooke Stone Lifestyle Management are still busy with spring cleaning, both in our own homes, and also in the homes of our clients. This year proved to be a special one for me with regard to my spring cleaning, mainly because of some new efforts to go green as I spring clean. This year, I tried to trash as little as possible: as I cleaned this year, de-cluttering closets and drawers and shelves and basement storage units, I did my best to share, donate, or re-gift an item before sending it off to the trash chute.
This change in my spring cleaning proved to be an enormous success, mainly because it provided a great excuse to have friends come over and shop through my closet, to donate used items to those in need, and to go that much more green.
Here are 2012’s tried and true methods to help get rid of clutter, get rid of excess trash, and also help others along the way. Happy cleaning, from all of us at BSLM!
For your pantry
We all know those lurking items in the back of the pantry – those canned, boxed, or jarred items that one afternoon seemed like the perfect addition to our pantry, or maybe was even once a gift from a house-guest. Pastas, canned beans, nuts, dried fruit — as I cleaned my own pantry this spring I found some items that I didn’t necessarily need to keep holding court in what precious pantry space I had. The best way I’ve found to make space in your kitchen while doing some good in the world is to donate those lingering, unopened boxes of pasta or canned soup, those chutneys, jellies and jams from host(ess) gifts gone-by to those in need.
BSLM recommends: City Harvest, www.cityharvest.org
For over 30 years, City Harvest has rescued food for New York’s hungry, bringing food and hope to men, women, and children in New York City. Each year, the organization collects over 33 million pounds of sustaining food for the homeless and those in need. City Harvest works with food “rescue” and distribution, education, and community engagement initiatives.
For your closet
I spent years harboring those great clothes that I knew might come in handy for that special event — only to discover that those great clothes kept creeping farther and farther back into my closet until they just hibernated back there. For years. No really. Years. I gave in this spring cleaning – - mainly because I kept meeting the same clothes in the back of my closet, year after year, and I felt guilty every time I saw those items that “once” were “me,” that “could” be chosen “once”, maybe even once in a blue moon, or perchance might be that perfect item for that rare occasion when I was feeling “crazy.” Enough said on that front. The moment I actually summoned up my courage and donated my old items was one of the highlights of spring cleaning. Weirdly fitting jeans, be gone! Pea-green sweater, goodbye for good. Blue patterned dress shirt that really doesn’t go with anything — it’s been fun in the back of my closet, I know, but it was time for you to go. Good riddance, because someone else is going to love you.
After I had chosen which items were going to take the express train out of my apartment and into someone else’s loving closet, I called my friends who might want to “shop my closet.” I couldn’t believe how many of my pals wanted to come over and poke through what I planned to donate. I actually saw a friend of mine the other day wearing a cozy sweater that came right from our shopping date in my apartment, and he told me that every time he wears the shirt its like a hug from an old friend. So before you call your local donation center to take it all away, see if any close friends might be interested in taking a peek at some of the more gently used items or pieces that suit their personal style.
But here’s an important Praxis note: the shop-my-closet fun should last ONLY one week. There is no reason to keep clothes around your house and in bags for any longer period of time. Set a timeline for how long you keep the items in preparation for donation, but once you have done the hard work to simplify your life, make sure it’s actually completed! After one week of seeing who wants which items from your closet, take those bags to HousingWorks, Salvation Army, or have a pickup scheduled.
BSLM recommends: Pick Up Please, http://www.pickupplease.org/
Pick Up Please is a fantastic resource for us spring-cleaners with not much time to wait with bags and boxes for a donation center. The website allows you to schedule a pickup from the Veterans Association of America within 24 hours. Tax deductible donations made easy. No one wants to lug heavy bags and big boxes to a donation center, and Pick Up Please takes care of it all for you! Easy and done.
For your bathroom
Those wonderful samples from hotel stays and travels seem to add up. After several trips for friends’ weddings, gifts of lotions or bath salts, the bathroom vanity and various drawers seem to accumulate and take up valuable real-estate. Did you know that unopened travel toiletries and bath items are actually a valuable commodity to the US armed forces and those in need? Many organizations collect and gladly accept toiletries.
BSLM recommends: The AIDS Service Center (ASC), www.ascnyc.org
The ASC provides care for individuals living with HIV and their families. They accept many types of donations, but personal toiletries are in high demand. To contact ASC log on to http://www.ascnyc.org or call (212) 645-0875 ext 314.
For your children’s rooms
Are there any books or toys that your child has outgrown? While there are always dolls, games, and toys that should be saved for posterity, there are many children in New York who are desperate for games and books and gently-used clothing. Bring joy to a child’s life by sharing those items that your child may not even miss – and may also keep clean-up time to a minimum with less items hanging about the apartment or home.
BSLM recommends: Children for Children, http://www.childrenforchildren.org
Children for Children provides support and care to children in need, sharing its resources with families, participating schools, and community outreach organization. They are particularly looking for children’s books this season, but to donate any children’s items, from Kindergarten through high school, contact Rebecca at Rebecca@childrenforchildren.org or by phone at (212) 850-4170.
For your desk
Hiding in the back of my desk drawer were not one, but two old cell phones, from days gone by, waiting at-the-ready in case of emergency or if my current phone breaks. I valued the idea of having one on hand, but two seemed excessive to me. And I knew there might be a great organization who collected cell phones to refurbish for those in need. After a few seconds on Google I had my answer — and my old cell phone was out of my hands and off to be of use to someone in need.
BSLM recommends: The Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence (OCDV), www.verizonwireless.com/hopeline
In 2011, The Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence (OCDV) created a city-wide cell phone recycling drive, in partnership with Verizon, to bring assistance to victims of domestic violence working to build a new life. They accept phones of many makes and kinds. For participating store locations, visit www.verizonwireless.com/hopeline.
We hope your spring cleaning has been pain-free this spring! Have you had any successful donations as you’ve cleaned? Are there organizations we’ve missed? Share your spring cleaning successes with us, and if you haven’t had any – call us. Comment, rate, subscribe…
Post authored by Jacob Liberman