Downsizing, decluttering, moving, and other hard-to-face realities
• How I made $2,145 Last Month by decluttering (Bob, Seedtime, 8-1-17)
• 8 Places to Sell Stuff Online (Stephen Layton, Laura McMullen, Nerd Wallet, 5-7-2020) Consider fees and convenience when choosing among broad marketplaces, speciality sites and local platforms. Consider: Amazon, EBay, Bonanza online. Locally: Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, Letgo. Clothes, vintage and crafts: Poshmark, Ruby Lane, Etsy. Electronics: Swappa, Glyde, Gazelle.
• How to sell your unwanted stuff (Nicole Spector, Better, NBC News, 1-6-19) On EBay you can sell everything from books to cars. Poshmark is best for fashion brands and Starbucks tumbler. Got bags of clothes and shoes? Let ThredUp sort it out. For unwanted tech, click on DeCluttr. Facebook Marketplace for local, social selling. 5Miles: Nextdoor meets Craigslist. And 7 quick tips for a better sale (Take photos, measurements
• Best Selling Apps for 2020 | Sell Your Stuff Online or Locally (Grant Sabatier, Millennial Money, 4-7-2020) The average US household has thousands of dollars’ worth of unused belongings, yet most people never get around to cashing in on this hidden goldmine. It’s easy to see why. The process can seem time-consuming and tedious – plus, when you stop using something, you forget you have it, and you forget it has monetary worth. Links to and descriptions of how the 26 bestselling apps operate: Decluttr, thredUP, Facebook Marketplace, Instagram (Shoppable Posts), eBay, Amazon (Seller Marketplace), Etsy, Poshmark, Tradesy, letgo, Craigslist CPlus, OfferUp, 5miles, Trove, Chairish, Carousell, Vinted, Depop, Wallapop, VarageSell, Shpock, Blinker, Nearme, Cashify, Gumtree, Recycler.
• 8 Ways Minimalism Helps Put Money In Your Pocket (Joshua Becker, Becoming Minimalist) Excess possessions are a drain on our finances. The structures we build, buy and rent to store our ever-increasing number of possessions is quite unbelievable. Our houses have tripled in size over the last 50 years, off-site storage is the fastest growing segment of commercial real estate, and only 33% of Americans can park both cars in their two-car garage. For fuller advice on becoming minimalist, read Becker's book Simplify
• For many people, gathering possessions is just the stuff of life (Mary MacVean, Los Angeles Times, 3-21-14) Vendors collect stuff to sell to people, who often resell the stuff all over again.Our things can give us a sense of security, connection to the past, to the people we love. Figuring out what to discard and being able to actually toss stuff is crucial to an ordered, happy life, experts say.
Getting your house in order
Downsizing and decluttering
Letting go of stuff
Recycling (daily stuff)
Selling, donating, or recycling books
Selling all the other stuff
Recycling electronics and miscellaneous stuff
Evaluating your "valuables"
Garage, yard, and estate sales, etc.
Selling or renting stuff online
Giving your stuff away
Being, or dealing with, a hoarder
Organizing and dealing with things and information
Choosing a place to retire
Senior move managers and other specialists
Cleaning and other practical tips
One weekend my friend Steve and I went shopping for a bookcase, so I could get a couple hundred books off the floor. A few hours later (!!!) Ikea delivered three long boxes of parts. I forgot the boxes were there and tripped over them on my way to the kitchen, nearly breakingmy leg. Decluttering is not for sissies! I shall never be a minimalist, but we have to start somewhere. What to do when your home contains your stuff, your parents' stuff, and your kids' stuff and you're having trouble walking safely from one spot to another, sitting on the sofa, or finding things.
• Kicking the Bucket List: 100 Downsizing & Organizing Things to Do Before You Die by Gail Rubin. I received and read a review copy of this book and realized how much more I needed to know to bring order to my life (and plan for my own death, so I won't leave a mess for others to clear up). Gail Rubin provides 100++ useful links (each with a concise tip), organized in practical groups -- some for organizing your space (and getting rid of all the stuff that clutters your life), some for assessing what you have and what you can live without, some for organizing your information (for when your heirs may need to find it quickly), some of it for helping you focus on enjoying life more by getting your affairs in order. She knows what she's talking about and explains things clearly. I'll let you know if it helps me get a grip on the process.
• Couple find novel way to downsize after 45 years in the same house (Petula Clark, WaPo/Philadelphia Inquirer, 1-3-2020) The cleaning ritual that comes with a party. Instead of leaving the books, old candelabras, collections of seasonal table linens, Mali baskets and Tibetan singing bowls to be picked over by strangers at an estate sale, this aging couple sent out invitations, served food, and poured mimosas as people they’ve known during their 45 years in Washington, D.C., came over and took their stuff.
• The Half-Truth Lies of “My Kids Don’t Want My Stuff” (Terri Blanchette, Worthwhile, 'While it is true that the younger generation doesn’t want all the things that older generations have held on to, that is only half of the truth. The best way to keep history alive happens by sharing memories and experiences, which sometimes are represented by the items we keep. Let subsequent generations know why some thing is important – whether it be to you personally, the family, or general history. If society is to avoid having an irreparable gap in our collective story, both young and old must tackle the "stuff", and the issues, together.'
• A Moving Story (Nancy McKeon, My Little Bird, 3-28-19) ' “My job,” she told me, “is to make people look up, not down. Keep it light.” Away went the old carpeting. Down came the mossy-green curtains from the living room and dining area. “Smart Moves” author Caroline Carter removed most of the books from my living-room shelves and styled them with a few books and some decorative objects. The point of emptying built-ins, she says, is to highlight the storage and display possibilities. (Illustrated.)' Nancy worked with Caroline Carter, the author of Smart Moves: How to Save Time and Money While Transitioning Your Home and Life.
• Seriously, stop throwing away your old clothes (Elizabeth Segran, Fast Company, 3-6-19) Americans send millions of tons of clothes to landfills each year. Now, New York City is launching a campaign to recycle its citizens’ clothes before they reach the dump.
• Ask Unclutterer. Erin Doland's Q&A section on this wonderful site: Unclutterer "A place for everything, and everything in its place is our gospel." See, for example, Weekend project idea: Clear clutter from your medicine chest (6-9-17) and Organizing medications (10-30-18) and see if they don't make you think twice. And What should I do with old journals?
• Lessons from a Major Life Change (Ruth E. Thaler-Carter, An American Editor, 11-21-18) " [I]t was surprisingly easy to decide that I really don’t need two or more paper copies of my published work, and that resulted in emptying out two entire four-drawer file cabinets! ... It also occurred to me that I don’t have to keep 5¼” floppy disks, 3.5” diskettes, Zip disks or Syquest disk versions of work from 10, 20 or more years ago. Clients do occasionally ask for old projects, but rarely anything that old..."
• When mom and dad are gone, how best to get rid of a lifetime of possessions (Wendy A. Jordan, WaPo, 3-24-16) Excellent introduction to estate sales, cleanout pros, and letting go of things (with professional assistance).
• Decluttering Your Home after the Loss of a Loved One: A Step-by-Step Guide to Moving through the Difficult Process (Home Advisor)
• Companies offer help with paring possessions when downsizing your household (Michele Lerner, WaPo, 7-11-18)
• Want your home to be clutter-free but can’t part with your treasures? A storage unit may be the answer. (Wendy A. Jordan, WaPo, 8-27-18)
• A Tool to Reduce Your Clutter (Debbie Mintz Brodsky, DMB Pictures) It's often not so much about the object itself but the memories and emotions we attach to those objects. See also How to Detach from Your Stuff & Clear Clutter
• Aging Parents With Lots of Stuff, and Children Who Don’t Want It (Tom Verde, NY Times, 8-18-17) How to dispose of a lifetime of memories and keepsakes? These days, it pays to ask a professional, not your heirs. Professional move managers spend time with clients, helping them sort through years of accumulated possessions and make decisions about what to dispose of and how, what to donate to charities, and what to try to fit into their new living spaces. Final costs of the service, which may also involve an estate sale, can be $2,500 to $5,000 or more, depending on the size of the home and the density of its contents. Self-storage only postpones the inevitable. “I am very interested in family history, and I would like a lot of my parents’ things on some level,” Travis Miscia, a 30-year-old lawyer, said, “but I have had to limit myself to taking what I would call primary-source documents, like books and some pictures.”
• Getting Ready to Downsize? Don't go it alone! (Penny Catterall, Order Your Life, 9-25-15)
• Old Age Is Not for Sissies (Katie Andraski, 10-6-17) On the pressure to get rid of stuff, among other things.
• The Movie “Nostalgia” Examines the American Way of Accumulating — and Dying (Alan Scherstuhl's movie review, Village Voice, 2-14-18) Mark Pellington’s contemplative fugue Nostalgia might have been called Stuff or Inheritance. An episodic ensemble drama organized around the logic of theme rather than of traditional narrative, the film concerns above all else accumulation and dispersal, in the American vein. Watch the trailer.
• Getting Rid of Possessions: It’s Harder Than You Think (Harriet Edleson, Next Avenue, 5-2-16) Since the process is partly psychological, here's how to prepare
• Things to never put in the recycling bin Recycling contaminants can pollute recyclables and damage the clean recycling stream – essentially turning your recycling into trash: http://www1.mwcog.org/dep/gorecycle/ads.html
• The noise of stuff: How clutter affects you and what you can do about it. (Mikael Cho, Medium.com, 11-5-14)
• The Life-Changing Magic of De-Cluttering in a Post-Apocalyptic World (downbeat cartoons from Tom Gauld, New Yorker, 1-10-17)
• The Lure Of Minimalism. Indira Lakshmanan hosts on Diane Rehm Show, with guests Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus (of The Minimalists), Juliet Schor (author of The Overspent American: Why We Want What We Don't Need, and Elizabeth Dunn (author with Michael Norton of Happy Money: The Science Of Happier Spending.
• Recipes for a Tidy and Tasty Death (Dwight Garner, NY Times, 12-25-17). Review: “The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning,” a surprise international best seller, is actually a fond and wise little book. It’s about how to sort through and dispose of many of your possessions before you die, thus sparing your family members an unpleasant task.”The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning (publishers blurb, and offer for a free e-book, if you sign up for S&S notices). Or buy the book on Amazon: The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning: How to Free Yourself and Your Family from a Lifetime of Clutter by Margareta Magnusson. But first read the one-star reviews on Amazon, which point out the book's shortcomings. See also Americans are pack rats. Swedes have the solution: ‘Death cleaning.’ (Jura Koncius, WashPost, 10-13-17) The concept of decluttering before you die, a process called “dostadning,” is part of Swedish culture and the trend is spreading.
• Dunn and Norton The Overspent American: Why We Want What We Don't Need, and Elizabeth Dunn (author with Michael Norton of Happy Money: The Science Of Happier Spending) propose five principles for happier spending.
1) Buy experiences. “Research shows that experiences provide more happiness than material goods in part because experiences are more likely to make us feel connected to others.”
2) Have more special treats, less self-indulgence, because “abundance, it turns out, is the enemy of appreciation. This is the sad reality of the human experience: in general, the more we’re exposed to something, the more its impact diminishes.”
3) Buy time. Don't waste too much time on bargain shopping; use that time to do more of what you love.
4) Pay now, consume later. “Consuming later provides time for positive expectations to develop." And by paying with plastic you spend more.
5) Invest in others.
In short, “shifting from buying stuff to buying experiences, and from spending on yourself to spending on others, can have a dramatic impact on happiness." “Before you spend that $5 as you usually would, stop to ask yourself: Is this happy money? Am I spending this money in the way that will give me the biggest happiness bang for my buck?”
• Clutter Clearing (Institute of Feng Shui & Geopathology)
• The Minimalists (archive of podcasts and essays). Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus write about living a meaningful life with less stuff for 4 million readers.
• 5 ways to declutter your life and give your stuff away for free (Lian Amaris, Life Hacks, The Next Web, 4-29-12)
• My Great Decluttering Experiment: Part 1 (Heidi Raschke, Next Avenue, 1-12-17) Four techniques, four weeks, 20 years of stuff. Could I get organized once and for all? Part 2 (1-19-17) After discovering the magic of tidying, my adventure took an unexpected turn. Focus on making your home warm and welcoming rather than picture-perfect. Books she worked from:
---Unstuffed: Decluttering Your Home, Mind and Soul by Ruth Soukup
---The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo
• These Books Spark Joy (Amanda Long, WashPost, 4-8-19) Published as Going against the decluttering craze: the book hoarders who defy Marie Kondo (Independent, UK, 4-13-19--illustrated) Amid the decluttering craze, we asked famous bibliophiles Jason Reynolds, Jane Green, Andrew Sean Greer, Carla D. Hayden, José Andrés, Martellus Bennett, how they live with their collections. "Books are more than objects. They are filled with ideas, stories, versions of ourselves, memories. Bookshelves are like your wardrobe: They send a message. And the message these famous book lovers shared with us is loud and clear: Books spark joy."
• Those Stones (Vince Amlin, Daily Devotional, UCC, 3-19-2020) "Traveling light is a young person’s game. Everything seems disposable when you’ve got time to replace it."
• Really smart spring cleaning (Sid Kirchheimer, AARP Bulletin 3-25-11) Where to safely unload your electronics, large appliances, linens, paint and building materials, clothing, toys and other clutter
• Can Your Cherished Possessions Shorten Your Life? (Dana DiFilippo, Silver Century Foundation) “The bottom line is, it’s very hard to do it (decide what to dispose of), because it is an encounter with yourself.”
• Moving On: A Practical Guide to Downsizing the Family Home by Linda Hetzer and Janet Hulstrand. How to get rid of the stuff, keep the memories, maintain the family peace, and get on with your life.
• Mess: The Fourth Circle of Hell Moira Hodgson's review (WSJ, 8-17-15) of Mess: One Man's Struggle to Clean Up His House and His Act by Barry Yourgrau. Hoarding is a vice that generates its own punishment: The author didn’t let his girlfriend into his apartment for five years. Here he is writing On Writers, Hoarders, and Their Clutter (Literary Hub, 1-7-16) and distinguishing between hoarding and collecting (Joseph Mitchell was a collector). It's always so much easier to picture when they include good photos!
• Let’s Celebrate the Art of Clutter (Dominique Browning, NY Times, 5-29-15) "The stuff we accumulate works the same way our body weight does. Each of us has a set point to which we invariably return. Each of us has been allotted a certain tolerance, if not a need, for stuff; each of us is gaited to carry a certain amount of weight in possessions."
• The Burdens of Stuff (Sophia Dembling on why not to leave your children thousands of dusty, crumbling books)
• How I Managed to Downsize My Possessions and Still Live Large (Kerri Fivecoat-Campbell on Maria Shriver's blog, 6-21-16) "Most folks I’ve talked to who have moved to a tiny home will say that the most challenging aspect of transitioning to a smaller space is letting go—letting go of sentimental items, collections, and overall clutter. Read more about what Kerri learned in her book Living Large in Our Little House: Thriving in 480 Square Feet with Six Dogs, a Husband, and One Remote--Plus More Stories of How You Can Too
• Top 10 Ways to Declutter Your Digital Life, 2010 Edition (Kevin Purdy, Lifehacker, 4-10-10)
• How to Recycle Old Electronics (Carol Mangis, Consumer Reports, 4-22-16) Recycle, donate, get a tech firm to take it -- practical tips.
• Top 10 Office Decluttering Tricks (Whitson Gordon, Lifehacker, 7-27-13)
• Top 10 Ways To Organise And Streamline Your Workspace (Whitson Gordon, Lifehacker, 9-19-10)
• Declutter Your Life--Now! (Jancee Dunn, AARP, Aug.-Sept. 2014) Professional organizer Barbara Reich tells us where to begin. See 5 Ways to Declutter Your Home (with before and after photos). 9 nasty things to throw away today (Candy Sagon, 4-19-13)
How to get rid of all your crap (Nora Dunn, Wise Bread, 9-29-07)
• How to get rid of practically anything (Consumer Reports, March 2011)
• ReStore (Habitat for Humanity (nonprofit home improvement stores and donation centers that sell new and gently used furniture, home accessories, building materials, and appliances to the public at a fraction of the retail price)
• Earth911 (recycling center search and recycling guides)
• The Boomer Burden: Dealing with Your Parents' Lifetime Accumulation of Stuff by Julie Hall
• Sell, Keep, or Toss?: How to Downsize a Home, Settle an Estate, and Appraise Personal Property by Harry L. Rinker -
• Don't Toss My Memories in the Trash: A Step-by-Step Guide to Helping Seniors Downsize, Organize, and Move by Vickie Dellaquila
• When Possessions Lead to Paralysis (Paula Span, The New Old Age, NY Times 9-16-10, on how family members can help family seniors deal with, and get rid of, the lifetime over-accumulation of "stuff") “This isn’t just a move from one residence to another, as it would be earlier in life. This is a step closer to the inevitable world of frail aging, a reminder that time is growing short. People want to hold onto the symbols of their former lives and competence.” ~David J. Ekerdt
• What Are Your “Broken Windows?" Here’s a List of Mine (Gretchen Rubin, The Happiness Project, Psychology Today, 2-21-13). “'Broken windows' are the particular signs of disorder that make me feel out of control and overwhelmed." Examples include unsorted mail, messy stacks of newspapers, shoes in odd places, cluttered counters, dirty dishes scattered around the apartment...." Gulp.
• Miss Minimalist (living a beautiful life with less stuff).
• How to Downsize Your Home Without Losing Your Mind (Alan Henry, Lifehacker 6-21-13)
• Run to the Roundhouse, Nellie and Clutter (Melissa Shook hires a decluttering expert to help her get her house in order. Here's the part I fear, as I start my own decluttering: "However, it takes two and a half days to recover from three hours of de-cluttering supervision."
• Learning and decluttering (Melissa Block, part 2.) Her posts on aging generally are delightful.
• Stuff it: Millennials nix their parents’ treasures (Jura Koncius, Washington Post, 3-27-16) "The 20- and 30-somethings don’t appear to be defined by their possessions, other than their latest-generation cellphones....Many millennials raised in the collect-’em-all culture (think McDonald’s Happy Meal toys and Beanie Babies) now prefer to live simpler lives with less stuff in smaller downtown spaces, far from the suburban homes with fussy window treatments and formal dining rooms that they grew up in."
• The Best Decluttering Exercise (Tony, on We Only Do This Once)
• 10 Creative Ways to Declutter Your Home (Joshua Becker, Becoming Minimalist). I especially liked this one: "Take the 12-12-12 Challenge. A simple task of locating 12 items to throw away, 12 items to donate, and 12 items to be returned to their proper home can be a really fun and exciting way to quickly organize 36 things in your house." This entry links to several other useful pages of organizing-and-tossing tips.
• 18 Five-Minute Decluttering Tips to Start Conquering Your Mess (Leo Babauta. Zen Habits)
• Be More with Less (Courtney Carver). Many, many entries, ranging from How to Delete Clutter from Your Email Inbox
• Out of Spite: Fifty Ways to Leave Your Clutter (Meg Wolfe, The Minimalist Woman). See also Project 333: Minimalist Wardrobe Challenge
• 365 Less Things. Here's a one-bite-at-a-time way to get started: Mini Mission Monday ~ Little Places A to-do list for one small project a day, such as "Declutter and tidy your medicine cabinet or similar storage" and "Declutter a bookshelf."
• Craigslist (Marilynne Rudick, WebOver50) "Craigslist has its lovers and haters. First the lovers: among them, my cousin who sold almost the entire contents of her house–even the junk–when she moved from a five-bedroom house to a two-bedroom condo."
• Decluttering advice from some 'experts' (Pat McNees)
• How to Declutter Your Home Fast
• Distractions from Decluttering (Melissa Shook)
• Why You Keep Abundance Clutter and How to Get Rid of It (About.com)
• FlyLady. Debbie Smith remembers some key points that used to be on this website:
1. When overwhelmed, start by scrubbing your sink. You will feel better.
2. Go around your house and find 7 (seven) things that you can throw away. Throw them away in the trash and do not remove them again.
3. Go around your house and find 7 (seven) things you can give away. Put them in a black plastic bag (so you can't see them and change your mind) and put them in your car trunk so you can drop them at the thrift shop or wherever you do your give-aways.
You will find more helpful materials through the blogrolls of the sites above.
"A house unkept cannot be so distressing as a life unlived."
~ Dame Rose Macaulay (1881-1958) English author
On the other hand, and for the opposition:
• For the Love of Stuff (Lee Randall, Aeon) our psyches need the stability that possessions bring. "Who are my people? Open my front door and the first thing you notice are books. They line the walls, hover overhead, and stack up on tables. Each is a chunk of autobiography, a clue to who I was while reading it..."
• What Happens To Your Stuff When You Die? I Take Care Of That. (Shane Cashman, Pocket/Narratively, ) An auction gallery furniture movers who does pickups year-round from houses that need cleaning out, talks about how they do their work and what they observe in the people they're doing it for.
• Don’t rush to declutter. A family history treasure trove may be all around you (Ilyse Steiner, Opinion, Cleveland.com, 2-5-19) "For inspiration, which ultimately became irritation, I read Kondo’s book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing.” Although informative for cleaning a closet, desk or bedroom, her philosophy should not be used when emptying a house due to death or downsizing. In fact, I’d bet she wrote that book before she had children."
• Downsizing? Don't count on selling or even giving away your excess stuff (Joanna Connors, The Plain Dealer, 2-18-18) "Mid-century modern is really hot. But antique furniture in general, except for really good rare items, has gone down in value," says Cleveland auction pro Carrie Pinney, who tries to manage expectations.
• Marie Kondo and the Privilege of Clutter (Arielle Bernstein, The Atlantic, 3-15-16) The Japanese author’s guide to “tidying up” promises joy in a minimalist life. For many, though, particularly the children of refugees and other immigrants, it may not be so simple. 'Kondo says that we can appreciate the objects we used to love deeply just by saying goodbye to them. But for families that have experienced giving their dearest possessions up unwillingly, “putting things in order” is never going to be as simple as throwing things away. Everything they manage to hold onto matters deeply.'
• What Do Early Marie Kondo Adopters’ Homes Look Like Now? (Joe Pinsker, The Atlantic, 2-13-19) The reflections of more than a dozen people who did dedicated cleanouts of their living spaces years ago. (Must-read for hangers-on-to-things.)
• 'Waste' Examines the Global and Local Afterlife of Recyclables (Terry Gross, Fresh Air, NPR, 9-12-19) Terry interviews environmental scientist Kate O'Neill, author of Waste. O'Neill traces the emergence of the global political economy of wastes over the past two decades. She explains how the emergence of waste governance initiatives and mechanisms can help us deal with both the risks and the opportunities associated with the hundreds of millions – possibly billions – of tons of waste we generate each year. Drawing on a range of fascinating case studies to develop her arguments, including China's role as the primary recipient of recyclable plastics and scrap paper from the Western world, "Zero-Waste" initiatives, the emergence of transnational waste-pickers' alliances, and alternatives for managing growing volumes of electronic and food wastes, O'Neill shows how waste can be a risk, a resource, and even a livelihood, with implications for governance at local, national, and global levels.
• Things that are NOT recyclable (GoRecycle, Your Washington Area Resource for Recycling Information) List of contaminants that can pollute recyclables and damage the clean recycling stream – essentially turning your recycling into trash!
• Earth911 (recycling center search and recycling guides)
• Is This the End of Recycling? (Alana Semuels, The Atlantic, 3-5-19) Americans are consuming more and more stuff. For decades, we were sending the bulk of our recycling to China—tons and tons of it, sent over on ships to be made into goods such as shoes and bags and new plastic products. But last year, the country restricted imports of certain recyclables, including mixed paper—magazines, office paper, junk mail—and most plastics. Now that other countries won’t take our papers and plastics, they’re ending up in the trash.
• The Freecycle Network, a grassroots, nonprofit network of people giving and getting (recycling) clothes, shoes, and household items in good condition. Post what you can't sell and other people will come pick it up.
• Styrofoam packing peanuts (shown here). Find a Plastic loosefill dropoff center near you, or see if your local UPS or Mail Boxes Etc. accepts them.
• Preserve. Recycle Number 5 plastic products. "What we accept." (Gimme 5)
There is no spot in my apartment from which I can't reach out and grab a book to read. So it is ONLY in the interest of decluttering that I post this advice that I am not good at following. Which is why we start with Ron Charles's piece from the Washington Post:
• Keep your tidy, spark-joy hands off my book piles, Marie Kondo (Ron Charles, WaPo, 1-10-19) 'Suddenly people have noticed the dark side of Kondo’s war on stuff: She hates books....That’s the problem with Kondo’s method....We don’t keep books because we know “what kind of information is important to us at this moment.” We keep them because we don’t know. So take your tidy, magic hands off my piles, if you please. That great jumble of fond memories, intellectual challenges and future delights doesn’t just spark, it warms the whole house.'
• Goodbye Old Friends: On Selling My Books (Lawrence Tabak, The Millions, 8-22-13)
• Little Free Library -- "a 'take a book, return a book' gathering place where neighbors share their favorite literature and stories. In its most basic form, a Little Free Library is a box full of books where anyone may stop by and pick up a book (or two) and bring back another book to share. See also Our Little Library (Lawrence & Linda Tabak, 4-21-14)
• Sending Books to Needy Libraries: Book Donation Programs (American Library Association) Lots of information of various types -- such as where to donate your old National Geographic magazines.
• The Book Farmer of Botswana (Salley Shannon, More magazine) A former teacher finds a new life bringing books to Botswana.
• Donate books to charity (through Donation Town, find a charity that will pick up your donations for free)
• Bookmark: The impossible task of culling books (Laurie Hertzel, StarTribune, 10-26-14) In getting rid of books, Hertzel found that the toughest books to pass on to others were those in which there were bookmarks from long-gone bookstores, grocery lists, etc. "The dust made me sneeze. The ephemera made me remember." In this sense, books were like diaries.
• Prison Book Program
• I Saw the Figure 5 in Steel (Luc Sante, Paris Review, 6-14-16) On the appeal of junk shops. Luc Sante argues that junk shops are uniquely disposed to teach the attentive visitor about the history of sadness, of futility, of vainglory, and of the ad hoc and the pro tem.
• For the Love of Stuff (Lee Randall, Aeon) "I am my things and my things are me. I don’t want to give them up: they are narrative prompts for the story of my life " "Who are my people? Open my front door and the first thing you notice are books. They line the walls, hover overhead, and stack up on tables. Each is a chunk of autobiography, a clue to who I was while reading it..."
"Reading a book is only the first step in the relationship. After you’ve finished it, the book enters on its real career. It stand there as a badge, a blackmailer, a monument, a scar. It’s both a flaw in the room, like a crack in the plaster, and a decoration. The contents of someone’s bookcase are part of his history, like an ancestral portrait. "~ Anatole Broyard
• 25 Things You Can Recycle You Might Not Know About (One Good Thing)
• How to Recycle Old Electronics (Carol Mangis, Consumer Reports, 4-22-16) Recycle, donate, get a tech firm to take it -- practical tips.
• How Do I Recycle...(an index to helpful articles) (this is for Montgomery County, Maryland, but it might be helpful for your area--or your area may have one like it). Items range from ammunition and antifreeze to cell phones, clothes hangers, scrap metal, smoke alarms, and yard trash (a sample from a long list).
• EcoATM. Check this EcoATM locator to find a recycling kiosk near you where you can sell or recycle your old electronic devices (cell phones, smartphones, tablets, mp3 players).
• Recycling Wireless Devices (Go Wireless, Go Green) Erase your personal information and follow these guidelines for recycling that old cellphone or other wireless device.
• The Freecycle Network, a grassroots, nonprofit network of people giving and getting (recycling) clothes, shoes, and household items in good condition. Post what you can't sell and other people will come pick it up.
• One World Running. Running shoes in good condition are sent overseas. Shoes that are beat up and not suitable for shipment are sent to Nike in Beaverton, Ore., through Boulder’s Eco-Cycle program, to be ground up and made into running tracks and playgrounds through the Reuse-a-Shoe program.
• The library of things: could borrowing everything from drills to disco balls cut waste and save money? (Leo Benedictus, The Guardian, 4-24-19) Never mind books: in a slightly tatty block in Oxford you can borrow all the things that usually cost a fortune to hire – and its advocates say it’s a scheme that is about to conquer the world. Tool libraries, toy libraries, myTurn, and other interesting new angles on the sharing economy.
•Decluttering? Yes, There’s an App (Roy Furchgott, NY Times, 4-7-17) Describes and links to eight apps and sites that help you sell your stuff.
---AptDeco (NYC and DC)
---PoshMark (clothing and accessories)
---Apartment Therapy Marketplace (originally KRRB--furniture and home goods)
---ThredUp (secondhand clothes)
---Chairish (furniture and home design)
• Craigslist Goldmine: How to Make $2,000 a Month in Your Spare Time Buying and Selling on the Popular Classifieds Site by G. K. Daniel
• How to sell items on Craigslist (WikiHow
• How to Sell Stuff on Craigslist Successfully – 5 Craigslist Selling Tips (Angela Colley, Money Crashers, 7-21-11)
• The Key to Making Money on Craigslist: How I Make Thousands in My Spare Time by Steven Fies
• eBay the Easy Way: How to Make Serious Money Selling on eBay.com by Frank Aaron Florence
• How to Sell on eBay: Get Started Making Money on eBay and Create a Second Income from Home by Richard Lowe Jr
• Loanables (rent what you need, or list your stuff for rent)
• Renting that car that sits in the garage:
----Turo ("Choose from thousands of unique cars for rent by local hosts"). How Turo works: Rent a car (for less than traditional car rental) or list your car, insured by Turo.
---The Third Transportation Revolution: Lyft’s Vision for the Next Ten Years and Beyond (John Zimmer, The Road Ahead, 9-18-16). Zimmer, Lyft's co-founder, provides an interesting look ahead at our car-crazy culture. "Ridesharing is just the first phase of the movement to end car ownership and reclaim our cities...owning a car and making monthly payments also means paying retail prices for every aspect of getting where you need to go — fuel, maintenance, parking, and insurance. In a future subscription model, the network will cover all of these costs across a large network of cars, passing the savings onto you. We cut the hassle and you get the one thing you really want: the true freedom to ride."
• Rescued From Obscurity: How Discarded Items Become Treasures ( Paul Sullivan, NY Times, 7-20-18) Now that information on obscure objects can be found on the internet and hobbyists can connect online, someone’s trash can become someone else’s treasure more easily.
• Art Appraisals (Art-Collecting.com) How to determine the value of your artwork
• Find a Jewelry Appraiser (American Gem Society)
• Selling Your Diamonds (Pat McNees for Washington Post) How much is that diamond really worth?
• Resources for appraising musical instruments (American Musical Instrument Society)
• How to Appraise, Insure, and Sell Your Collectibles (Kimberly Lankford, Kiplinger, May 2011)
• Confessions of a Typewriter Addict (Anthony Casillo, Literary Hub, 2-5-18) One person's junk is another's treasure. Excerpt from Typewriters: Iconic Machines from the Golden Age of Mechanical Writing by Anthony Casillo and Bruce Curtis
• What You Should Know About the House Appraisal Process (Michele Lerner, Realtor.com, 2-18-14)
Kicking the Bucket List: 100 Downsizing & Organizing Things to Do Before You Die.
THE REAL EVALUATION
• How unwanted family heirlooms create a divide with aging parents (CBC radio, 8-25-17) Parents see heirlooms. Their kids see junk to clean up. It's a keepsake dilemma for families.
• The Burdens of Stuff (Sophia Dembling on why not to leave your children thousands of dusty, crumbling books.) 'We had appraisers in and found treasures that had been buried from sight behind decades of indiscriminate accumulation. We found treasures of value only to us, flotsam that coaxed out memories from the deepest corners of our minds. And we found junk, worthless and ugly bric-a-brac kept only because Dad’s default was “keep.”'
• The Things They Left Behind (Peggy Burds, owner of Emerald Estate Sales, First Personal Singular Column in Washington Post Magazine, 10-17-10). She concludes: "Everything I own has a story: It may not have started out as my story, but when I chose to bring it into my life, it became part of it. We all write our own history, and our stuff is often the only thing left to tell that story. I don't want my story to be a bunch of junk that doesn't mean anything."
• The Burden of Stuff: Why Less Could Make You Happier (Kirsten Dirksen, HuffPost, 5-13-10)
hoping I'd get the hint. I prefer the term "pack rat."
• Selling a Hoarder’s Home: The Trouble With Stuff (Constance Rosenblum, NY Times, 10-11-13) "Selling the home of a hoarder can be a challenge. You can't, for instance, stage it. But in a tight market, such places often sell quickly anyway." "Hoarding is a complex emotional disorder defined as a fierce need to acquire combined with a paralyzing inability to get rid of things....An estimated 3 to 5 percent of Americans suffer from the condition, which in May was listed for the first time as a distinct disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Although not confined to the elderly, the problems associated with hoarding intensify with age."
• Sorting Through a Hoarder’s Lifetime of Clutter, We Learned the Meaning of Love (Rachel Mabe, Gianna Meola, Narratively, 3-21-17) When my boyfriend took a job helping a widow clean out her house, among the urine-soaked rugs and years-old piles of laundry, I saw our relationship in a new light. (A love story and a half.)
• Hoarding is a serious disorder — and it’s only getting worse in the U.S. (Sara Solovitch, WashPost, 4-11-16) "Hoarding is different from merely living amid clutter, experts note....Hoarding disorder is present when the behavior causes distress to the individual or interferes with emotional, physical, social, financial or legal well-being." "he most common acquisitions are clothes and books. But often the stockpiling includes items that people ordinarily discard: junk mail, food packaging, shampoo bottles." Good practical suggestions.
• Let It Go (Joan Acocella, New Yorker, 12-15-14) Are we becoming a nation of hoarders? "The items most commonly hoarded, the A.P.A. says, are newspapers, magazines, old clothes, bags, books, mail, and paperwork, though valuable materials—indeed, cash and checks—may also be included with the junk." Must reading.
• Help for hoarders, and those who care for them (Eleanor Feldman Barbera, or Dr. El, McKnight's, 4-12-16)
• Buried in Treasures: Help for Compulsive Acquiring, Saving, and Hoarding (Treatments That Work) by David Tolin, Randy O. Frost, and Gail Steketee
• Clutterers Anonymous (CLA)
• Clutter and Hoarding (Environmental Geriatrics, Cornell University). See links to other articles along left, intended for professionals, but reassuring (and helpful) if you are not already over the line! See, for example, Working With Individuals With Dementia Who Rummage and Hoard and Top 10 Decluttering Tips.
• Squalor Survivors
• Stepping Out of Squalor (online community)
• Are you a book hoarder? There's a word for that. (Hector Tobar, Los Angeles Times, 7-24-14) "In Japanese, there’s a word for it: tsundoku." Click here for image .
• The Advantages of Being a Pack Rat (Rachael Rifkin) "I think of it as curating my life. As the expert on all things me, I’m the best person for the job."
• No, You Are Not A Book Hoarder (Jessie Sholl, Psychology Today, 3-28-11) Making light of hoarding -- or any mental illness -- is disrespectful.
• Stuff by Tyler C. Gore (a personal essay in which the author relates his family's harrowing addiction to physical objects, cats, and paperware)
• Compulsive Book Hoarders (Shelfari). Meet others who have the same problem of having 'too many books to read.' If there is such a thing.
• 10 Things You Should Know About Compulsive Hoarding ( Therese Borchard, PsychCentral)
• The Hoarding Dilemma: When and How to Help (Martha Kern, ElderCare Matters, 3-2010)
Former teacher died in O.C. house clogged with debris (Joseph Serna and Adolfo Flores, Los Angeles Times, 6-11-14)
• Hoarding disorder (Mayo Clinic). See Symptoms and Risk factors (including indecisiveness and social isolation).
• Hoarding : When Things Begin to Pile Up (Bettijane Levine, Los Angeles Times, 10-7-91) "A compulsive hoarder never experiences pleasure. . . . He hoards only to reduce anxiety."
• Hoarding: The Basics (Anxiety and Depression Association of America)
• Combination Therapy Cleans Up Hoarding Symptoms (Alicia Ault, Medscape Medical News, 3-29-16) See alsoBrain Activity Different in Hoarders (Megan Brooks, MMN, 8-8-12)
• Hoarding Behavior (Squalor Survivors) 'Frost and Gross's 1993 study of hoarders found that the most likely justification for keeping an item was future need ("I might need this someday"), followed by lack of wear or damage ("This is too good to throw away"), sentimental saving ("This means too much to me to throw away"), and lastly potential value ("This may be worth something someday"). The difference between people who hoard and people who don't, is that hoarders apply these values to a far larger number of items.' " Some hoarders find recycling to be less difficult than discarding."
The danger of hoarding (Joyce Cohen, USA Today, 2-18-04) Where most people see an empty roll of toilet paper, they see art supplies.
• The Back Story (Rob Walker, NY Times, 9-3-16) Give objects a story and they become more valuable in the eyes of others. "A project called Totem, financed by a grant from the Research Councils U.K., concentrates on the narratives of thing-owners."
• Freecycle (give your stuff away online -- changing the world one gift at a time)
• The Freecycle Network (UK)
• Free Stuff (Craigslist) Type in your zip code.
• Eyeglass recycling (Lions Recycle for Sight is a great way to give your old glasses a second life)
• Wands for Wildlife. Old mascara wands are used to remove fly eggs and larva from the fur and feathers of wild animals. They work great because the fine-toothed bristles are close together. Clean them in Dawn soap, mail them in a ziploc bag, with donations to Wands for Wildlife, P.O. Box 1211, Skyland, NC 28776 or Wildlife Wands, P.O. Box 1586, Southwick, MA 01077.
• How to get rid of old New Yorkers (etc.) (TimesUnion)
Drop them off a handful at a time at Laundromats and coffee shops (if they accept them). Laundromats in particular never have enough good reading material. I’d rather read a 4-year-old New Yorker than a month-old Pennysaver. Post them on Freecycle or the free section of Craigslist. Use the cover and inside pages to wrap gifts.
• Career Gear (donate clothes men can wear to work)
• Dress for Success Donate good suits and accessories so women in need of work have something decent to wear when they have an interview scheduled. Get involved. .
• Donation Town (find a charity that will pick up your donations for free--includes homeless charities, veterans charities, cancer/medical charities, children's charities, humane society charities, faith-based charities, hospice charities, disability charities, and other types--including Habitat for Humanity)
• 100 Ways to Repurpose and Reuse Broken Household Items (DIY & Crafts)
• Give family heirlooms away now--at milestone celebrations
• Reuse Development Organization (REDO) Redistribute materials from those who no longer need them to those who can still find use for the item(s). "Our national program facilitates in-kind material donations from the donor directly to non-profit reuse centers and other non-profits. To date we have placed literally tons of materials including flooring, ceramic tile, marble, tools, cabinets, hardware, paints and finishes, adhesives, materials for the arts and education, and more!"
• Top 7 Best Car Donation Programs (Drive-Safely.net, 4-1-15) and The Top 5 Worst Car Donation Charity Programs (Drive-Safely.net, 3-31-15)
• Funding Factory (Connecting Causes, Communities, and the Environment). Collects used toner and inkjet printer cartridges, "giving these items the second life that they deserve, while providing a simple way for Causes to earn money."
• National Coalition Against Domestic Violence partners with Cellular Recycler for the collection of used cell phones and select digital electronics. Donate your unwanted cell phones and digital electronics to NCADV, which gets part of the proceeds from recycling refurbished products.
• Cell Phones for Soldiers. Donate funds (minutes), cellphones, smartphones, or tablets (new or used, broken or cracked)
• A Very Short Post Explaining How I Finally Got Rid of My Mattress Foundation (Nicole Dieker, The Billfold, 6-8-17). Bottom Line: Call the Salvation Army.
• Earth911.com. Find recycling centers and services in your neighborhood. Learn how & where to recycle common & uncommon material like household items, auto fluids, electronics, metal, glass, paper, plastics, & construction waste.
Some suggestions in this category came from Kicking the Bucket List: 100 Downsizing & Organizing Things to Do Before You Die by Gail Rubin. You can find many others not listed here in My Family Record Book: The Easy Way to Organize Personal Information, Financial Plans, and Final Wishes for Seniors, Caregivers, Estate Executors, etc. by Harris A. Rosen. Rosen has a good section on donating goods for reuse, in many categories.
One alternative: Lending your stuff to neighbors
• NeighborGoods (share goods with your neighbors and friends)
• Acts of Sharing (It's simple. It's relational. It's local.)
• Apartment therapy
---Smart, unexpected uses for common household stuff
---Housework as exercise, with amount of calories burned
---Before and after
• Unclutterer. Great website on this subject. (See also its sister site, about food, Simplifried.)
• Jeri's Organizing & Decluttering News
• I'm an organizing junkie and you can be too
• Cleaning and organizing (Good Housekeeping, with links to many topics)
• The Senior Organizer: Personal, Medical, Legal, Financial by Debby S. Bitticks, Lynn Benson, and Dorothy Breininger
• HouseLogic, helpful tips, including The Everything Guide to Selling Your First Home (advice from realtors) and Creative Ways to Stretch Your Storage Space and Fixes for Tight Spaces From Desperate New Yorkers and 7 Genius Entryway Storage Ideas to Get You Out the Door Faster (including personalized bins and charging stations).
• How to Organize Your Cluttered Apartment (braniac, eHow)
• Reduce clutter in your apartment (Wikihow)
• The Boomer Burden: Dealing with Your Parents' Lifetime Accumulation of Stuff by Julie Hall
• Don't Toss My Memories in the Trash-A Step-by-Step Guide to Helping Seniors Downsize, Organize, and Move by Vickie Dellaquila
• Storage Solutions for Every Little Thing. Thanks to Linda Anderson (Getting Organized) on Pinterest for leads to several house-organizing suggestions.
• 33 Meticulous Cleaning Tricks For The OCD Person Inside You (Peggy Wang, BuzzFeed)
• 31 Ways To Seriously Deep Clean Your Home (Natalie Brown, BuzzFeed)
• 40 Days of Home Organization (Becky, Your Modern Family, 2-13-13). Start with the refrigerator.
• Top 100 Organizing Blogs and Websites (Feedspot)
• Professional Organizers Blog Carnival (OrganizedAssistant.com)
• Get It Together: Organize Your Records So Your Family Won't Have To by Melanie Cullen and Shae Irving
• If Something Happens to Me by Joseph R. Hearn and Niel Nielsen (a workbook to organize legal, financial, and insurance information)
• Documents you need to protect your own and your survivors' rights and wishes
• Document and information you should have available in an easy-to-find place
Madeline Kripke, Doyenne of Dictionaries, Is Dead at 76 (Sam Roberts, Those We've Lost [to Coronavirus], NY Times, 4-30-2020) A woman of many words, mostly unspoken, she amassed a lexicographic trove of some 20,000 books, much of it crammed into her Greenwich Village apartment. [Check the photos!] After avoiding eviction in the mid-1990s by agreeing to remove the volumes stacked in the hallway, she had hoped to transfer the whole enchilada [slang for the entirety] from her apartment and three warehouses to a university or, if she had her druthers [n., preference], to install it in her own dictionary library, which she never got to build.“Unfortunately, it appears that no clear plan existed for her collection,” her brother, her only immediate survivor, said in a phone interview. “We are now in touch with some of her expert friends for advice.”
• Emotions can swell as seniors pare down (Mary Ellen Podmolik, Chicago Tribune 11-22-12) Specialized movers ease the stress of downsizing
• This Is a Job for ‘Senior Move’ Managers (Bonnie DeSimone, NY Times, 10-24-06)
• Downsizing in Retirement (Stan Hinden, from: AARP Bulletin Today, 4-20-11) The high cost of moving, both in money and angst.
• Finding Help in a Crisis: Downsizing (Sid Kirchheimer, AARP Bulletin, 8-24-11) Senior move managers can help you unclutter a home and relocate, but you'll pay $40-$125 an hour
• As population grays, senior moving managers cater to relocation needs Housing options for seniors (aging in place, assisted living, continuing care, Eden Alternative, and more)
• National Association of Senior Move Managers (NASMM) has a directory of certified move managers. People who use such services can spend $1,500 to $5,000, depending on the selections and nature of the move.
• 5 Best Interstate Movers Of 2019 (Ryan Carrigan, moveBuddha) See moveBuddha's Enlightened Guide to Helping Senior Citizens Relocate (Sergio Ocampo) and Moving Cost Calculator.
• Gentle Transitions (specializing in senior relocation)
• Senior Move Managers (SeniorLiving.com)
• CRTS Certification The Certified Relocation & Transition Specialist (CRTS)® designation was founded in 2004 by industry members concerned with the lack of education and standards across the disciplines that support late life home transition, such as moving, downsizing or aging in place.® In 2011 CRTS came under the auspices of The National Certification Board for Alzheimer Care (NCBAC)
• Cleaning Tips for Allergy and Asthma Sufferers (American Academy of Allergy Ashthma and Immunology)
• 27 Chemical-Free Recipes for DIY Spring Cleaning (Laura Newcomer, Greatist, 3-19-15)
• How to clean a kitchen (using inexpensive cleaning products) and other well-illustrated cleaning how-tos from wikiHow
• Natural Oven Cleaner For Baked-On Grime Sarah Lipoff, Popsugar, 12-13-14)
• Simple Stain Removal (Suzy Kerr, Doityourself.com)
• Can you get stains out of clothes after they've been washed? (Alia Hoyt, HowStuffWorks)
• The truth about dry cleaning (Pat McNees)
• Cleaning and organizing (Good Housekeeping)
• Indoor air pollution
• Clean, crisp bedding brings comfort like nothing else (Hannah Jane Parkinson, The Guardian, 2-9-19) Research shows fresh sheets improve sleep.
• How To Choose Your Best Place To Retire (Steve Vernon, Forbes/Next Avenue, 8-12-13) Lots of disagreement among the various lists of best places to retire, but here are links to some of those lists. "Then there's Forbes, AARP and Topretirements.com, which compile their favorite retirement locales in the country. International Living picks its top spots for retiring abroad. And the Milken Institute selects the “best cities for successful aging.” Other lists let you pinpoint retirement sites more narrowly."
• U.S. citizens who live overseas (U.S. State Department statistics) Nine million U.S. citizens live abroad.
• The World’s Best Places to Retire in 2018 (International Living, 1-1-18) (ranks top countries for retirees who choose to retire abroad). Reports on advantages of living in Costa Rica (#1 choice), Mexico, Panama, Ecuador, Malaysia, Columbia, Portugal, Nicaragua, Spain, and Peru (#10).
• Retire in paradise: 5 countries where you can live the dream (Darla Mercado, CNBC, 1-3-18) From International Living piece.
• Best Cities for Successful Aging 2017 (Milken Institute)
---Top 10 Large Cities
---100 Best Large Cities
---Top 10 Small Cities
---281 Small Cities (ranked!)
Oh, and Craigslist, eBay
• Estate Sales.Net (find estate sale companies near you)
• Learn about estate sales Check the estate-sale company's business history and references and make sure they're bonded and insured.
• MaxSold (Online Downsizing & Estate Sale Auctions)
• All About Estate Sales: A crash course & tips for newbies (Apartment Therapy). See responses to How do I sell the contents of my house.
• How to Advertise Your Garage Sale, Tag Sale, Moving Sale or Yard Sale (eHow)• Estate Sale Tips (Unexpected Treasures
• Is an Estate Sale an Option? (Barbara Crews, About Home
• Estate Sale Specialists: Information, Advice, Solutions From the Pros
• Learn to sell on eBay (eBay)
• How to sell at a flea market (Flea Market & RV Park at Menge)
• Tips on Yard Sales (eHow)
• Having a successful yard sale (Yard Sale Queen)
• How to Word a Garage Sale Advertisement
Read these pieces with the eye of a potential seller:
• Tips for Shopping at Estate Sales (Camilla Cheung, Wise Bread, 6-13-11)
• The KINGDOM mirror– proving that you NEVER KNOW what is on the other end of a Craigslist ad. (Victoria Elizabeth Barnes)
• 3 Proven Ways to Save Real Money at Garage Sales (Linsey Knerl, Wise Bread, 8-26-10) (Chelsea Fitzgerald, e-How)