Minimalism is a word we love to hate. Theoretically, it sounds good. Almost chic. But also harder than it looks. It’s easy to get caught up in buying new things and never sorting what you own. This summer decluttering has been a big theme – between moving out of my college apartment, to moving my home base I’ve been on a minimalist kick. Buut I’m not about to sign up for HGTV’s “Tiny House, Big Living” yet. I’m not quick to throw away the things I cherish, and I enjoy shopping. But as I’ve been thinking, sorting, and streamlining my material items I learned some valuable lessons. Whether you want to declutter your life on the path to minimalism or simply want to make more room, check out my tips. Below, I go category by category on how to declutter your life and what to do with what’s left behind!
How to Declutter Your Life:
Questions To Ask:
Now some things you may know right off the bat you’re ready to part with. But what about things you’re on the fence about? Before you brashly start to declutter your life, consider the following to ask yourself:
- How often do I use or wear this item?
- Is this something of significant personal value? Will I look back in 5 or 10 years and value this?
- If I were out shopping at this moment, would I buy this?
- Is this something I see myself using or wearing down the line?
- Why did I buy this in the first place? Did I love it or was it a fad?
Although fashion always upholds some tried and true pieces (a LBD, a well fitting blazer, a denim shirt), both clothing styles and personal style constantly evolve. And with it, comes a lot of waste and buildup in your closet. I admit, I own pieces from years ago I still wear and could never part with. Likewise, I’ve bought things years ago and never wore again. Go through your wardrobe drawer by drawer, hanger by hanger, and ask yourself the key questions. Trust me, you cull out items pretty quickly. Don’t hold on to things you don’t enjoy wearing or know you grew out of. I promise, sorting through clothing is one of the most rewarding steps in the “declutter your life” process.
Alternatives to Trashing:
Donate: One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. It really is a shame to outright throw away perfectly good clothing. If you have items in good condition put them in a bag and drop them off at your local thrift store. Additionally, many donation places are non-profits that support good causes. Win-win.
Sell: Selling is another good option to outright trashing. Every summer between college, I sold $100-$200 worth of clothing through the app Depop. Like any money-making venture, it requires a bit more time and effort but hey some extra spending cash never hurts. I definitely suggest checking out the app. (I’ve personally had better success there over the years than Ebay).
Read More: My Tips for Success Selling on Depop
Last year, if you asked me if I would ever declutter my makeup I would’ve been shocked. Thanks to Youtube and beauty vloggers, 75% of us believed at some point we needed hoards of every product, shade, and type. (Now I do understand big name ones get a lot via PR.) However, the average person doesn’t need that Ikea Alex 9-drawer set brimming to the top. Truthfully, I wouldn’t exactly describe my collection as “minimalist” even today. However, I’ve made a concerted effort the past 6 months to focus on 1) using what I have vs. collecting 2) sorting out what I don’t.
First, look through your collection by category and pull out your holy grail products. Then, go back and pull items you love, use often, or you find flattering. Now take a hard look at the remaining stuff. It’s totally fine to keep a few things for special occasions but if there are shades or formulas you genuinely aren’t into it’s time to let them go. Additionally, makeup doesn’t last forever. Most products have a little glass jar symbol with the a number, followed by “M”, which indicates their shelf-life.
Pro Tip: Put a piece of tape over the opening of your products. At the end of the month, take a good hard look at the products with unopened tape.
Alternatives to Trashing:
Project Beauty Share: As I mentioned in my May favorites, Project Beauty Share is an organization providing beauty products to disadvantaged women. If you have unopened products or very gently used ones, pack them up and ship it to them. Obviously these items must be new or close to it, but I found stuff in my collection I swatched then never looked at again, so I mailed them a large package! This is a great way to declutter your life, or at least your makeup drawer, and know you’re helping a woman in need.
Friends & Family: Now no denying, there are sanitary issues here. I wouldn’t recommend sharing/swapping anything that touches the lips or the eyes. However, if you have items in tubes or pumps (ex: foundations, BB creams) that aren’t your shade or formula but could be shared, think of friends or family who could get more use out of it.
Another day, another new piece of technology hits the market. After 5 years of living in one place, my family racked up quite the stash of old cell phones/cameras/ and laptops that have since broken or been replaced. This step towards decluttering should be fairly simple- if you aren’t using it or it’s obsolete it’s time to get rid of it!
Alternatives to Trashing:
Charity: While you may have upgraded, many old cell phones actually have a lot of life left in them. Phones4charity lists drop off locations where you can pass on older electronics to a variety of good causes (ex: Red Cross, organizations that help the homeless etc.).
Battery Dump: When all else fails, sometimes you have to throw things away. But did you know electronic equipment is one of the fastest growing sources of environmental waste? Most towns are aware of this and have local resources to dump electronics, so they get recycled and disposed of properly. Check your local hometown or county page for more information. Many schools, colleges, and work offices periodically run drives or keep bins for this sort of thing so keep on the lookout.
Stuff You Outgrew:
The truth is, the same things and activities we loved at 10, may not totally align with our needs at 20. As I mentioned, I totally advocate for keeping things of sentimental or personal value. But many of the things I found sitting around were things I hadn’t touched in years. For some reason, I found myself with an astronomical amount of construction paper, art kits, and supplies I could never go through unless I opened a daycare.
Alternatives to Trashing:
After School Programs + Teachers: Look up local after school programs or summer camps- they’re always looking for supplies especially those that serve underprivileged communities. As a recent graduate myself, I have many friends who joined Teach for America or similar programs. A vast majority of supplies and classroom items come right from a teacher’s wallet. Reach out to fellow teachers to see if they are interested or know someone who would be. I ended up passing bags of brand new art supplies to a friend whose a teaching assistant this summer.
And that concludes my simple, but hopefully helpful, “Declutter Your Life” post! Whether you’re on the road towards a more minimalistic lifestyle or simply want to cut down on the hoarding taking the time to sort and evaluate what you already have can truly be worthwhile. Let me know in the comments how you declutter your life, whether regularly or from time to time. What tips and tricks do you have?
Until next time,