Monday, May 9, 2016

"If We Don't Want Our Junk, Does Anyone Else Want Or Need It?"

Spring cleaning is a real event. It happens every year although there is no official beginning or end or any definition as to what constitutes it. It is just a time of opening up the windows after a winter of being closed in and letting the fresh air invade the home a fill it with a sense of renewal. It's an outward sign of starting over as we get rid of unwanted or items no longer needed that have been sitting around or getting in the way.

Spring signals a rebirth and a fresh start, so what better way to demonstrate that we are accepting this fresh beginning than by decluttering our living space and cleaning out our home?

The nice thing about spring cleaning is that it doesn't have to be limited to just a few days or weeks in the springtime. It can be a positive force in our lives and a pervasive attitude that we carry with us throughout the year - always asking ourselves if there are items anywhere, taking up space, that have outlived their usefulness that can find another home.

Many people recommend - and there have been several books written about this subject - a sorting system for conducting spring cleaning activities. This can be a physical system or a mental one. This can be a one or two-part sorting process - making the hard decisions and then living with the results or placing items in their initial grouping and then making a second or final determination on their disposition.

The sorting system essentially is dividing everything into three groups by deciding which items (1) need to be kept because they currently are being used, have been purchased for a specific future purpose, are seasonal items that will be used again at the appropriate time, are still useful but in need of some repair, or are being held as a back-up for an item currently in use, (2) should be tossed because they are broken, have passed their "use-by" or expiration date, are obsolete (such as small appliances or technology that are no longer made and have been replaced by newer items), or cannot be repaired due to the unavailability of parts or the expense involved, and (3) can be donated to charity or sold at garage or yard sales or through eBay or Craigslist.

Once items that are being kept are determined, they need to be organized and stored in closets, drawers, on shelves, in boxes or containers, or elsewhere where they can be easily found again when they are needed but not out in the open where they can get in the way.

Let's look at the remaining items as a group first. These are items that are broken, not wanted, or possibly have value for someone else but not us. If they clearly are broken, we should immediately discard them. This is not the time to devote a lot of mental energy into trying to determine how or if they can be repaired or what it might take for them to be useful again. Some items just wear out or break. Glassware that is broken doesn't need to be kept even if it can be glued back together again. It won't be the same.

Some items may have been purchased or saved along the way as a collection. While they had some value to us as we were collecting them, the real question is does anyone else find any value in them? If not, they aren't really saleable and should just be discarded. We tend to think that we can give all of our castoffs to a charity thrift store and they can fix them up, clean them, and then sell them to make a few dollars from them. We have to ask ourselves two questions here: how much time and money would they need to spend to make that happen (likely more than they would ever get in return by selling them) and is there much of a demand for these items even if they are in new or nearly new condition?

If the items are not desired by us any longer - for whatever ever reason - and we don't feel that anyone else would pay money for them, why kid ourselves into thinking they have value? Some items are just junk and we need to recognize that fact.

____________

Steve HoffackerCAPS, MCSP, MIRM, is a licensed Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist instructor and best-selling author of universal design books. To learn about this and other programs for aging-in-place or universal design, visit stevehoffacker.com or call 561-685-5555.