As a professional organizer, I stand firm that people generally live their lives filled with way too much stuff.  The stuff fills their closets, their garages, their living spaces, and even their bedrooms.  We bring these items into our homes with the best of intentions, but then they get lost in the shuffle of our hectic lives.  They sit in forgotten places in our homes where they become essentially without value to us. After working with many people to declutter their homes I can say there is an overriding theme that permeates most people’s attitudes toward their clutter and that is GUILT. This guilt doesn’t always change our consumption habits, but it often impedes the process of letting go.

I propose a paradigm shift. What if every time you cleared your unused or unwanted belongings you could rest assured that they would be reused or recycled?  What if you could be sure that your items were going to people thrilled to have them and that would greatly benefit from your generosity. The old adage “One man’s trash, is another man’s treasurer” really does hold true. You just need to know where to look. On my website I have shared with you many resources for donating and recycling your unwanted items.  Though I love Goodwill for its convenience, there are many other resources around San Diego.  For example, ArtFORM, a non-profit that brings art education workshops to schools, youth groups, and the community for little or no cost, accepts a long list of office, art, and other items that Goodwill would not be able to resell.  San Diego’s Habitat for Humanity ReStore, which helps provide affordable homeownership opportunities for hard-working families, accepts donations of building materials and home furnishings and will even pick up on request.

If you’re items are no longer usable, but you would like to recycle them, San Diego offers curbside recycling.  Check out a current list of what’s accepted. Did you know that they will pick up plastic crates, totes, laundry baskets, pallets and even lawn furniture?   Have you ever wondered about what to do with all of those stained, unusable textiles in your home from underwear and stained clothing to old sheets, towels, and even rags?  Non-profit organizations that collect clothing for donation (think non-profit collection bins, Goodwill, and many more) sell their unusable textiles to SMART for reuse and recycling purposes.  SMART stands for Secondary Materials and Recycled Textiles. Here’s a list of items that can be recycled if donated.  And if you don’t know exactly how to recycle an item, check I Love a Clean San Diego or Earth911 for more resources.

Though I do believe that there also needs to be a shift in our consumption habits on a large scale, that is a topic for another time.  For now, know that when you are ready to let go of your clutter, which will benefit your physical and emotional health in drastic ways, there are many organizations out there ready to take your trash and turn it into treasures.