So, you open the garage door, then quickly look sideways as you toss out a grocery bag out for your ‘bag pile,’ then slam the door.
In just one (longish) day, we took this garage from crazy and chaotic to decluttered and organized. All big brown spiders from Halloween were tamed, miscellaneous Christmas decorations culled, wedding albums put in their proper memorabilia location, bikes, golf, tennis, baseball, surfing, fishing…all activities categorized, thinned out and set up in a new functional home.
Keep, toss, donate. The key to cleaning out any space is to make piles for keep, toss (garbage and recycling), and donate. You can tell how much storage you need only after you know exactly what you are keeping. Of course, sometimes you can’t decide whether to keep an item or not…that’s okay, too. Make a “Maybe” pile and go through it again later in the day. If things are still in good working condition, like athletic gear that has been outgrown, or surfing boards that are no longer in use, look for a special non-profit that would be happy to accept it. Goodwill and Salvation Army are great places, too. We are lucky in the Bay Area to have such great resources to help find new homes for our old goods. One other resource I really like is the Stuff Stop - a website that lists charities (nationwide) that accept certain items, like ball gowns or wedding dresses, and connects those items with people in need.
Get Back Part of Your Investment. Some people find that the treadmill they purchase for a home gym is a little too dusty and taking up space. Others find building materials from a previous remodel. Still yet, there is the extra piece of furniture to ‘save’ indefinitely. Though you probably won’t recoup much of the cost, you can try consignment stores and Craigslist as a starting point for selling your items in perfect condition. (Just a warning - antiques and older furniture are worth pennies on the dollar, so you won’t get rich doing this, but you will earn a little money.) One great consignment resource that I love because they will come pick up your furniture (see guidelines, though) is MoveLoot. They are in the Bay Area as well as other cities in the US.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. You can recycle nearly everything these days. Got old sneakers? Nike’s Reuse-a-Shoe program does just this - turns your old sneakers into surfacing material. (I know - I used to work at Nike in this department!) According to Nike, more than 632 million square feet of surfacing has been created form recycled shoes. That’s worth something for sure! Another great online resource for recycling items is the iRecycle app. Lastly, though the Marin Sanitary Service takes a lot of items you may not expect, and offers payment for certain metals and items, the El Cerrito Resource and Recovery Centerhas an extensive take-back program - which even includes styrofoam and coat hangers.
There are a lot of things lurking in our storage spaces - especially the garage. And we’ll get to it someday.
And when that someday arrives, tackle it methodically. Or call us to help, too.