“The more I threw away, the more I found”
Let’s talk today about unwanted stuff.
Decluttering goes in phases; it will always be a process. As you and your life change and evolve, so does your stuff. Maybe you move house, you upsize or downsize, you change climate, you move in with your partner, or your family grows. All those situations call for different items, different clothes, different rooms, different vibes. If decluttering is fairly new to you, there are some questions to ask to help you make the tough decisions during the process. And with each phase in your life, you will get better at it.
Just remember, your unwanted item is someone else’s treasure. Today I want to share some thoughts about finding a second life for the items you no longer need.
What to do with the unwanted stuff?
So, you’ve used the Like and Love questions to identify some unwanted or unused stuff. Let’s organize these into categories so you are not tempted to put anything back.
We create four categories:
A box or bag for sellingItems for friends (swap or give away) A bag for donation things for throwing away / upcycle (dirty, holes, etc.)
My wish for today’s blog post is to help you decide what items are for which category. It all depends on your budget, values, and time. Generally, I think the order of this blog post could be the order to decide how you get rid of your unwanted items.
When you have some items that are not right for you anymore, and they look good enough for a second life, try to sell them online. Yes, you’ve spent some money on the item, but you get a part of it back and someone else is happy with it now. I love knowing that the item gets a second life with someone who is truly happy with it.
It’s easiest to sell an item when it’s a label or brand. When you think you can sell an item for more than twenty dollars, it is probably good to sell. When it’s worth less, try to see if any of the following options apply. Trying to sell an item can be quite time consuming – making pictures, creating a document, and replying to questions from potential buyers. This can be a reason to not sell it. However, through this post, I want to show you that when you organize it well from the start, it can save you quite some time in the long run.
As a designer, I like beautifully designed products. It brings me joy to go to shops, to see objects and clothes designed with love. And of course, I do get easily seduced to purchase things. I try to maintain a rule one in, one out, but I struggle to apply it consistently.
Either way, I often sell my items. And I really enjoy it, because the item gets a second life! I’d like to see it as an idea of renting an item.
For example, you purchased a sweater for eighty dollars one and a half years ago. You have been wearing it for quite some time, but now you find yourself not wearing it and choosing other items instead. The item still looks good enough for a second life, so this is an item you should think about selling. You could try to sell it for forty dollars. Essentially, you’ve paid forty dollars to “rent” a sweater for eighteen months. I think that is a pretty good deal! And on top of that, someone else is happy with it now!
Organize your sales This is what my process looks like. I photograph the item from all possible angles, including inside, the labels, any areas that are worn, etc. I try to make as many pictures as possible to save myself from having to pull it out later – the more you handle an item, the more tempting it is to keep it. If it’s a designer or a brand, I try to look up some original webshop pictures online. This is a nice ritual to end the relationship with the item.
Next, I open a document and describe the item. The template looks like this:
Title: Designer/brand name, category, color, size Description of the item. Not too long, just something that shows that it’s been yours. Sometimes I describe the reason why I get rid of it. I mention the brand, size, color, category, etc.
Second last, I mention that I want somebody else to be happy with it.
Last I write that I want to live with a minimal amount of stuff and that I’m looking for quick sales.
Original price: (if I remember, or if I can still find it online) XX Price: XX Lowest price: XX
It can happen that your item doesn’t get sold immediately, and you might need to post your advertisement again later. When you have a file like the one above, you only have to copy and paste the information to update the advertisement.
The pictures are saved in folders, organized by the name of the item or brand, in the main folder called ‘SELL’.
I also create a folder called ‘SOLD’. This is where I keep the items that were sold but had some emotional value. I have never browsed through those folders (yet), but it’s quite a comforting thought that I can always look back at the pictures.
2. Give away to friends or family
This is an easy one, and it always gives me much joy to do so. Sometimes I don’t feel like selling items due to time, and I actually know the perfect friend for this item. In my experience, I learned that some friends still feel obligated to ask me if they can sell it or give it away, even after a year or two has passed. So now I try to make clear from the start that the item is theirs, and that they can do with it whatever they please.
Give it to your helper Maybe you have help at home – make clear to her that you hope she can use it, sell it, or that she knows someone else for it.
Swap When you have a good amount of friends with a similar style or lifestyle, it could be a good idea to organize a swap party. It can be a team effort to exchange unwanted garments and update your current closet! Important is that you make the rules clear before you start. It’s a nice way to spend some time together, share some memories with the items, and get a new item in return for free!
I will write a separate blog post about a swap party where I will share some tips and tricks.
3. Donate to a charity/thrift shop
Donating items can be a decision when you have a lot of items to get rid of and when you don’t think it has a high value, or you don’t know a friend or relative for it. Donation works differently in every city and country. I have been in situations where I could just leave bags next to the counter, sometimes I had to fill in a list with the items of donation, or I’ve used an app for pick up. It’s a good solution for not throwing away things but giving it a second life. You can find a lot of information online on how this works in your country and neighborhood.
Additionally, I think there are quite some Facebook, WeChat, and Whatsapp groups where you can sell or give away your items. It’s a little bit more personal than giving it to charity. I’ve never used this myself, but I guess this works the same as selling your items.
4. “Throwing away” – upcycle
When fabrics are damaged or dirty, all of the above options will not apply. But try to avoid just throwing your unwanted items in the trash – there are so many options to upcycle.
Some companies take donations of all textiles, and sometimes you even get a discount coupon for using it in their shop when purchasing a new item. There are possibilities to donate bags in containers around the neighborhood. Even when the clothes are stained or damaged, there are companies that reduce the garments back to fibers and it won’t end up somewhere at a landfill. Have a look online to see how that works in your country.
Was this helpful for you? How do you upcycle worn-out garments? Let me know in a comment.
Thank you for reading.
We’re in this together.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
My name is Biek (pronounced: Beak). I’m Dutch and I grew up in Holland, but I’ve been living abroad for three years now and am currently settling down in Singapore.
While my passions extend into a lot of different creative outlets – from interior design to visual arts – my first love was fashion. I’ve worked in the fashion industry for twenty years now, both retail and design, from fast-fashion chains to high-end labels. Follow Biek on IG @biekaleidoscope