Downsizing and Decluttering

posted 3/8/2017

Whether you are preparing to clean out a parent’s house, a baby boomer who is downsizing, or someone just trying to declutter your home... getting rid of stuff is hard, takes time and the world has really changed!  

Our Needs and Likes Have Changed

Not only have tastes and needs changed, but the way people think about stuff has changed. In the past, it was a given that families “passed” things down to the next generation. These days, most boomers and even generation Xers are established and don’t need more stuff from their parents – and their millennial kids either don’t like it or don’t have room for it. Think formal dining room. No one has one anymore, so there’s no place for grandma’s china and crystal stemware, let alone her big old table and chairs. And sad, but true… it’s easier (and cheaper) to buy it from Ikea or Target, than to rent a truck and move it. All this means we are faced with more stuff than ever to get rid of. Here are some tips on how to go about it.

Have a Plan

Before you begin, research the subject. There is a reason that some of the most recent bestsellers are about decluttering and downsizing, e.g., Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up or Downsizing the Family Home. What you take away from the experts will help you make a definite plan – it will save time, money and your sanity! NOTE: Don’t forget to talk to your family about your plan to downsize – it is much better to ask if they want something and get a, “No thanks” than to find out after it is too late.

What to Save and What to Let Go

Every book or article you read on the subject of downsizing or decluttering begins with deciding what you keep and what you get rid of. One expert suggests when sorting through things, ask these questions: Do I love it? Do I need it? Will I use it? If you do not answer yes to one of them, the item goes. Work from room to room and place items into one of three piles:

  1. Things to Keep – These are the items you have decided you need or want to save.
  2. Things to Donate or Sell – Clothing, furniture and other items too good to throw away can be donated to local charity groups such as Habitat for Humanity, Salvation Army and Goodwill.  Consignment shops and garage sales are other great options. If you have too much to sell yourself, hire a professional and have an estate sale.
  3. Things to Get Rid Of – Luckily, this is Metro Waste Authority’s area of expertise! We are your trusty resource for safe, smart disposal decisions.
    1. If items are recyclable, then your curbside cart or a drop-off location is one answer. Find where other recyclables (that don’t belong in your cart) can be disposed of in our Recycling & Disposal Guide. Type the name of your item in the search field and disposal options are provided.
    2. Did cleaning the garage yield household hazardous waste or old paint? Take them to the Hazardous Waste Drop-Off to dispose of them properly.
    3. The reality is that a considerable amount of stuff will just need to be thrown away. And, you may have more than a curbside garbage cart can hold. If you have access to a truck or trailer, your most economical option is probably to bring your load to Metro Park East Landfill. If there is more stuff than you can handle, it may be time to “Google” a local hauling company who rents “roll-offs” or dumpsters. The company will deliver and pick up the dumpster when full.
    4. The Extra Trash & Large Item Sticker program will work for you if you only have a few items to throw away.

Downsizing or decluttering can be an overwhelming task. Reduce the stress with a plan and turn to Metro Waste Authority with your disposal questions.