Next Time You Declutter, Use a Clear Garbage Bag—Here’s Why

published Jul 3, 2020
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Credit: AnnaStills

Getting rid of things can be a real struggle. You can convince yourself with “maybe I’ll use [insert random object that you never will] at some point in the future,” to only find it five years later, untouched, and having the same conversation (not speaking from experience, of course). But instead, try to be realistic and nip the problem in the bud—by tricking yourself into thinking you’re not getting rid of anything at all.

On the premiere episode of HGTV’s “Hot Mess House,” organization expert Cassandra Aarssen wanted to help Travis and Stephanie in Brooklyn, New York, free up space in their apartment by doing the often difficult deed of parting with their stuff. There was no doubt that clearing out the bedroom closet was the most difficult task, but Aarssen was there to smooth out the process with her genius hack: use clear garbage bags instead of black ones.

Aarssen claims that using black bags are anxiety-inducing because they’re usually associated with garbage, and treating your useful belongings as such makes the process feel wrong. Aarssen told Apartment Therapy that she “started using clear bags and calling them ‘gifting bags’ instead,” with her clients, which is when she noticed “a huge mental shift from decluttering feeling negative and wasteful, to it feeling freeing and positive.”

After all, items in perfectly good condition are great to donate, and the clear bags align with giving those objects a new purpose. “You aren’t getting rid of something, you are sharing it with someone who will use and love it,” Aarssen explained. “Mindset is so important when decluttering and organizing your home.”

Clients aren’t the only ones Aarssen’s used this trick on to prove its worth. “I have been using this tip with my own children for a long time. My kids love gifting others with clothing or toys they have outgrown, it brings them a lot of joy and pride. We don’t get rid of our things, we share them.”

So next time you find yourself shrinking back into the mindset of “well, maybe someday I could use this,” take out the clear garbage bag, put the item in there, and see how you feel. Odds are, you’ll be willing to part with it when looking at it as a gift for someone else, perfectly arranged in its see-through bag.