Saturday, June 13, 2009

How I Lost 130 Pounds in Three Weeks! Five Unusual Tips for Decluttering

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I've long suspected my family has much more than we need to enjoy life. My theory was tested when we put our house on the market and I began decluttering in earnest. To make our house look organized and spacious, I had to dig deep and assess my family's possessions with a brutal honesty.

Oprah and her ilk extol the joys of clutter-free living, but perhaps my friend Abby puts it best. She says getting rid of household clutter is akin to an enema. It's cleansing; leaves you fresh and renewed. Though I have referred to my efforts as de-crapifying my house and I feel good about my work, I can't speak to the post-enema feeling.

In some ways maybe I am like a constipated child, stubbornly refusing to let go (of my possessions). I hate to throw things out; I hate to see things wasted. This makes it hard to de-crapify. That said, I have a few tips to get rid of clutter and give it a second life.

1) The easiest (and perhaps uniquely Chicago method) is putting unwanted items out alongside my garbage cans for alley scavengers. This works great for old furniture, household items, and anything with a modicum of scrap metal. I don't care whether the alley scavengers take said items home and use them, pass them along to friends or sell them. I just want them gone and, hopefully, appreciated by someone else.

2) My blogfriend Marketing Mommy hosted a clothing swap, another practical and fun idea for passing items along. However, as a WAHM my wardrobe is minimal and I fear I'd be the odd girl out at such an event, left to flounder in a corner with my 1990s mom jeans, worn out sneakers and my deceased aunt's day-glow orange rabbit fur lined raincoat.

3) Another blog buddy, Darryle Pollack, runs an unusual way to declutter. Cluttercasting exists on the continuum between Freecycle and eBay. Soon I'll be giving away something very special over there.

4) My secret weapon in the war against clutter is school. Got piles of scratch paper and old file folders? The school office will gladly take them. Random craft supplies? The art teacher will love them. Gently used books? Just drop them off in the teacher's lounge and they'll have new homes before you arrive back at yours.

5) And my super secret weapon is a good party. At my son's recent birthday party, I repurposed clutter as prizes and goody bag fun. The guests did an activity that used up dozens of random stickers and other items. I hosted an end of school year party last week for the sole purpose of using up bottles of bubbles, cartons of sidewalk chalk and a pile of white t-shirts I'd been saving for a Sharpie-faux tie dye extravaganza.

I don't mourn the 130+ pounds of clutter I've lost in recent weeks. I feel lean and strong...until I remember that day-glow fur coat hanging in my hall closet.

This "doing more with less" post was written for a guest host contest for BlogHer's The Juice by Tropicana Trop50.


RookieMom Heather said...

I always love the clothing swap. And you totally grabbed me in with this title. Congrats. Now please come to my house!

Naomi said...

You know I am so in need of a dayglo fur coat...

Mudslide Mama said...

Kim, clicked through from Twitter, what a relief! I thought you'd started pushing one of those extreme weight-loss pills. This is MUCH better! (And more satisfying.) I may need to borrow your tips; my closet looks like something out of a horror movie.

Shari said...

I am constantly going through our stuff and getting rid of it. My husband will say that we need a bigger house. I always counter that we need less junk.

2KoP said...

We just spent two days cleaning out my boys' room. Yikes, what a mess. I can't say we got rid of enough, but at least it's all (temporarily) organized.

The pink nightie is a perfect fit for Cluttercast. Let me know when you post it. I can't wait to see who wants it and why.

Anonymous said...

Yay you! Awesome work!

Tammy said...

So, when are you coming over to decrapify my house? I could use the companionship as I try to lose my 130 lbs.

Darryle said...

I've already lost hundreds of pounds by cluttercasting---I figure that makes me "The Biggest Loser". Glad you reminded me about your item for Cluttercast---in addition to cluttering, I also specialize in procrastination.