Today Darla DeMorrow joined us to talk about Pandemic Decluttering:
Pandemic Decluttering 101
With baseball delayed and the Olympics canceled, decluttering has become the hottest sport this spring. While you might have the time to organize, though, you don’t necessarily have all the tools and resources you would have had pre-quarantine.
So, what’s different about decluttering your home during a pandemic?
1. Cut Back on Consumption: Cutting back on what you buy is the first step in decluttering. Don’t be tempted to buy new things and toys just to keep you occupied. Instead, get creative with what you already have instead of adding more boxes to the already-stressed courier delivery systems, along with more clutter to your home. Now more than ever, less is more.
2. Virtual Organizing: Your favorite professional organizer is probably under a stay-at-home order, but that doesn’t mean they can’t help you! Many clients prefer short one-hour appointments, accountability, and focusing on creating systems, all accomplished online in the same way telemedicine is trendy right now.
3. What to Do With Donation Items: Local donation centers and pickup services are not currently open to accept your donations. Please DO NOT leave furniture or bags of discards at their door, which is both unsafe and illegal. If you have decluttered items that can be passed on immediately to family or a neighbor, here’s an idea: disinfect items as best you can, then package and leave it for them in a safe spot (porch, garage, etc.). They should be able to safely retrieve the item after three days, which is the amount of time the CDC says the virus can live on some packaging. The virus cannot live indefinitely without a host. There are still a few ship-to-donate models still operating, such as GiveBackBox.com and Soles4Souls.org, but you must contact them for details in this rapidly changing environment. If you cannot safely pass along donatable items, then please store them inside your house for the time being. Package donations in a stackable box to save room in your storage area. Label the box clearly with large letters: TO DONATE. That way, when this is over (and this, too, shall pass), you don’t mix your donations in with your keepers and have to start organizing all over again.
4. Can You Sell Your Clutter During the Pandemic? Please be smart about selling on people-to-people sites like Facebook Marketplace, eBay, Craigslist, and others. Online marketplaces are still operating, but it’s up to you to stay safe. Arrange for cashless transactions. Disinfect items before shipping them. Recommend that the buyer quarantine items for at least three days or disinfect immediately. Avoid meeting in person to transfer goods. And follow local laws and guidelines, such as stay-in-place orders. Yes, theoretically you could quarantine your items as described above, but is it worth transferring an invisible, deadly virus from one home to another? Can you wait for a few weeks?
5. Should You Put Donations in the Trash?: Municipal trash and recycling services are still operating, so this is actually a great time to declutter your paper files and recyclable items. The recycling market has changed in recent years, so look up your municipality’s website and be sure you are only putting the right things into your bin. Make room in your home office and household files by shredding sensitive documents, then recycle those shredded bits with your household recycles. Don’t trash items that could be valuable donations, like on-trend clothing, household goods, and working appliances. Clean, store with clear labeling, and wait until it is safe to donate.
“Your clutter problem did not happen overnight,” says Darla. “That stuff has been in your house for a long time, maybe years. Be a good steward to the earth, those things, and our communities by storing them for a bit longer. It’s a bit of an inconvenience, sure, but it’s just not worth the risk to accidentally spread the coronavirus when you don’t have to. Stay home. Stay safe.”
She is the author of: The Upbeat, Organized Home Office.”