One Super Motivating Way to Flip the Script on Decluttering This Time of Year

published Dec 11, 2018
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(Image credit: Marisa Vitale)

We declutter mostly for ourselves. We yearn for the empty space and the room to breathe. So we approach our cupboards, closets, drawers, and garages asking ourselves whatever version of the essential question—do I need this?—that gives us the most clarity. That’s how we decide what to get rid of and what to keep most of the time. But there’s another way to think about it, and there are others to declutter for. Here’s some food for thought this holiday season…

Instead of this mindset of deciding what you want to keep and what you could stand to do without, start with a list of what others need and go “shopping” for these things in your own home.

The things you collect may not be the typical castoffs you’re used to tossing in the donate pile. Instead, you might find yourself reaching for items that are still perfectly good and might not even be extra. Nevertheless, you’re still clearing stuff out of your home and you’ll feel good about it in a way far beyond the thrill of seeing uncluttered space in your home.

Women’s shelters, homeless shelters, food banks, and soldiers abroad are all in need of many items—some of which should be new, others which can be new, but all of which you may find in your home. Either way, you’ll probably find many of the items to fulfill your list in your closets, pantries, bathrooms, and more.

Use the following suggestions as a jumping off point for making your shopping list. Then grab a container and start shopping in your house. You may want to separate out your items by who or where you will donate to.

Women’s/children’s shelters and homeless shelters need:

Food banks often request the following:

  • Applesauce
  • Canned beans
  • Canned fish
  • Canned meat
  • Dry food (like mac and cheese)
  • Canned vegetables
  • Cooking oils
  • Dried or canned fruit
  • Granola bars
  • Herbs and spices
  • Pasta
  • Peanut butter
  • Rice
  • Trail mix
  • Pasta sauce

According to Soldiers’ Angels, soldiers abroad need and request:

  • Non-chocolate snacks
  • Trail mix
  • Gummies
  • Hot sauce
  • Flavoring packs for water
  • Individual packs of condiments
  • Tuna fish
  • Tea bags
  • Toothbrushes
  • Toothpaste
  • Lip balm
  • Lotion
  • Sunscreen
  • Letter writing supplies
  • Books
  • Journals
  • Holiday decorations

To know specifically what’s most needed right now, ask your local shelters and food banks what they need most.

Gathering items out of our own abundance to give to those who lack not only gets stuff out of our homes and makes us feel good, but it humbles us. To have the option to glean a portion of what we have and send it to people to help meet their basic needs gives us a perspective filled with gratitude.

I hope you can find some time to try it soon.