What KonMari Left Out: What To Do With Your Cast-Offs

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie KondoI was hesitant to try KonMari at first. I had watched Marie Kondo’s Google talk on YouTube, and I knew she advised throwing a lot of things away. Sure, paring down your possessions until you love everything you own sounds great in theory, but what about the waste? I can’t just send half my stuff to the landfill and go blissfully about my life.

Then my mother put her copy of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up in my hands, so I set that concern aside long enough to read it. And I devoured it. And then I decided to give the method a shot, and I am so glad I did. I’m a more conscious consumer now, and I think I will ultimately consume and waste less as a result of this process. But there’s one major thing I think is missing from KonMari’s wonderful books: what to do with the things you decide to part with.

I think KonMari purposely avoided this topic because stopping to decide what to do with the things you get rid of — or even thinking about having to make that additional series of decisions in the future — may derail some people from completing or even beginning the method. It’s hard enough to keep going with such a huge task without also having to worry about where the discarded things should go. And I think that’s totally fair. If this sounds like you, then you have my blessing to simply throw your things away, so long as you do the method. Because it’ll teach you to appreciate stuff in a way that will keep you from bringing excess into your home in the future.

I ended up putting my discarded items aside and dealing with them (much) later instead of throwing them immediately away (which goes against the method, yes, but I swear I only fished two or three things back out of the trash bags). You don’t have to procrastinate like I did. And I felt awesome after I got rid of things in a way that I felt was responsible. I was energized by the idea of someone else getting good use out of my cast-offs. I think making this a part of the process is worth it if you’re an environmentally conscious and/or altruistic sort of person, and it’ll actually boost your enthusiasm and motivation as you go through the KonMari process.

So here’s a list of ways I’ve found to responsibly get rid of some common items, both big and small. I did virtually all of these, so I recommend using a multi-pronged, ongoing approach. However, if you simply can’t take the headache of dealing with your stuff so meticulously, there’s always the option of taking everything that’s still usable straight to your favorite drop-off thrift store. You’ll even get a tax break!

Option 1: Host a Swap Party

This option is by far the most fun. Set a date, buy a big bottle of bubbly and some snacks, and throw a swap party for your friends. This works best for clothing, accessories, toiletries, and household items. I’ve also heard it called a “naked ladies party,” which sounds like something entirely different. Invite plenty of people and ask them to bring a reasonable amount of stuff, and then lay everything out and let people browse and chat and sip and have fun. Usually everyone goes home with some great new things for free, and everything that’s left over gets donated to your place of choice (see Option 3).

Option 2: Sell

Local Stores
If you’re parting with anything that’s valuable, selling it can be a lot of fun. I’m partial to local (chain) stores like Plato’s Closet and Half Price Books that I can take things to and walk away from with cash, even if it’s less than I would get if I sold things myself online. Even consignment stores like Worn save me from having to post and store and ship each item.

Online
However, I have friends who have had a lot of success selling clothes and accessories on sites like Poshmark, Mercari, and Tradesy. There’s also eBay, of course, where you can sell almost anything. For larger things like furniture, it’s quick and easy to sell or give away on Craigslist. If you have things that are useful but not really that valuable, there’s Freecycle. I’m thinking of putting my vast collection of bubble mailers up there sometime soon.

Garage Sale
If you have an entire weekend that you don’t know what to do with, there’s the garage sale option. I did this a couple years ago and made forty bucks for two days’ worth of work, which isn’t great, but it was not a bad way to get rid of a bunch of stuff. It’s satisfying to give your neighbors a good deal on something they can use, and making even a little bit of cash off of stuff you never would’ve used anyway is a great feeling.

Option 3: Donate

I like to donate different things to different places, both because I want to support different causes and because, to be honest, I feel a little guilty about piling a lot of stuff on any one place that already has stacks and stacks of donations. Somehow, spreading it out feels better to me.

Books and other media
go to the Planned Parenthood book sale, which I like because the dropoff requires zero human interaction, plus it supports a cause I care about.

Stylish clothing, Housewares, and some Toiletries
go to a local store called the Beacon Boutique which benefits a women’s shelter. I also really enjoy shopping there!

Women’s Business Attire
There’s a place in Des Moines called Dress For Success that provides donated business clothing to needy women who are interviewing for jobs. I haven’t donated to them before, but I think it’s a cool concept.

Other Clothing
goes to The Clothing Closet in West Des Moines where low-income folks can “shop” for free.

Necessities – Toiletries, Blankets, &c.
Shelters like CISS always need things like personal hygeine items and warm stuff like blankets and coats.

Unexpired Pantry Items
can go to food banks.

Anything Else That’s Usable
Housewares, odd and vintage clothing items, stationery, etc. — goes to good ol’ Goodwill. Other options include: the Salvation Army, St. Vincent de Paul, and local thrift stores. [Edit 9/30/16:] A commenter mentioned the Disabled American Veterans (D.A.V.) thrift store, another great option. For like-new building materials, fixtures, and furniture, the Habitat for Humanity ReStores are a good option. I think it’s worth doing a little research to see what exactly the profit from these stores goes toward, because choosing a cause you believe in will make you feel extra good about your donation. Also, if you’re donating to a smaller organization, it’s a good idea to check their website or give them a call first to make sure you’re giving them things they have a need for.

Option 4: Repair

Make an effort to fix your damaged stuff. Oftentimes, all it takes is a few minutes of searching the internet for a solution to present itself. As a bonus, fixing something you thought was broken makes you feel like a hero.

Clothing
Sew up those holes—you can do it! I usually watch a YouTube video and then sew up or darn holes, reattach buttons, and replace broken threads. I condition and polish my leather items to keep them in good shape. Virtually any stain (besides ink) can be removed from fabric with Shout Stain Remover Wipes. (Don’t even bother with the Tide Pen, it sucks.)

Appliances and such
If an appliance is acting weird, try googling the problem. My husband was able to repair his keggerator by buying a small $3 part! I’m still proud of him.

Option 5: Repurpose

The sky’s the limit on this one. I don’t do a lot of repurposing, but some people are really into it. You can use fans and magnets from broken computers and microwaves to create all sorts of gadgets. You can put virtually anything in your garden to add whimsy and visual interest. Old iPods can be used as alarm clocks or for music in the car. Old clothes can be turned into quilts. Scrap wood can become any number of things, like a shoe shelf or a table top. Use your imagination, or search Pinterest.

Option 6: Recycle

Electronics
You can take almost anything related to electronics to Best Buy to be recycled. I’ve taken TVs, cell phones, power cords, batteries, and ink cartridges there. It’s super quick and easy. [Edit 9/30/16:] I did a little research after a friend made a suggestion in response to this post, and discovered that Goodwill stores in central Iowa will also recycle old computers!

Appliances
I took a broken dishwasher to a local store to be fixed up and (presumably) resold. Sometimes churches have programs that fix broken appliances and provide them to the needy. Do a little googling to see what’s available in your area.

Textiles
If you have clothes or other textiles that are no longer wearable, H&M stores can recycle them. [Edit 9/30/16:] I’m told that Goodwill also recycles textiles, but I haven’t confirmed this.

Paint, Cleaners, and Other Hazardous Materials
In Des Moines, the Metro Waste Authority has a hazardous materials drop-off site. Anything that’s still usable goes to the Swap Shop to be resold.

That about does it.

This is obviously not an exhaustive list. I don’t want anyone to go crazy trying to find exactly the right way to get rid of every little thing they decide to KonMari. But I hope this will at least inspire you to try the method and to take a moment to donate or recycle the big things you get rid of instead of sending them to the landfill. Believe me, you will reap the benefits in terms of feels. ♥

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Decoratively Challenged

I need some help deciding what to do with a couple of spots in the new place. A few things are literally nailed into the walls so i just have to work around them. One was the giant mirror above the fireplace, which i’ve complimented by placing every metallic object i own on the mantle. I’m a little more clueless about these two spots though:

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Number one is these shelves. I like them, i just don’t really have anything to put on them since all of our books just fill up the bookcase. I thought of buying some random decorative books to fill up at least one shelf, but i’m not really into useless decorative things, as a rule. Any better ideas?

Number two is this …thing in the bathroom:

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This is a pretty poor picture, but there are five wooden pegs protruding from that panel (there should be six; one is missing). I feel like there’s something out there that would look really cute hanging from odd wooden pegs in the bathroom, but i can’t put my finger on it. What do you guys think?

Photographic Proof

We are officially unpacked! The house is all put together and minus a few missing mirrors and a couple of photo frames i’d like to buy, the interior is just the way i want it.

Moving was a pain, as moving always is. We got a key to the new place one week before we had to be out of the old place, and we spent that week packing, taking some boxes over to the new place and painting the bedroom from pink to light gray. Let me tell you, we are not expert painters. I think the last time i painted was about ten years ago and somehow i figured that experience was all i needed under my belt to painlessly paint a bedroom. I was wrong.

We used 2/3 of the gallon of white paint that the landlord gave us on the first coat and the room still looked patchy. So, i decided to buy another gallon, and i figured that changing the color slightly from white to light gray wouldn’t matter much. Wrong again! After the first coat of the gray paint, it still looked patchy. So we went at it again. And after the second coat, we had to go back and fill in what patches still remained. And then we took the tape off the edges, and the trim was messy. I am hiring a professional next time.

Moving the big stuff was easy because we had a team of four helpers and a u-haul. Thank God. Unpacking has taken a lot longer than i thought it would, but it feels awesome now and less than a month has passed. Yay! On with the show:

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The house, with our two cars in the two-car garage!

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Our kitchen which, sadly, lacks a dishwasher.

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The living room/dining room

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What it looks like from the other side. That mirror came with the place and is nailed into the wall, and that’s a gas fireplace below it.

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The bedroom. Notice the paint job! I want to add a colorful quilt to break up all the gray.

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I think we’re calling this room the den, maybe?

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The bathroom. It got painted a light tan color before we moved in. Things to notice: green tiles, heat lamp, cedar ceiling.

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Our crazy tub.

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We have a weird semi-circular concrete patio thing in the back

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And we’ve got a few little plants popping up in the back yard. Happy Spring!

There are more photos in my flickr photo set if that wasn’t enough for you. More details to come. 🙂

Interlude

Hi, i’m alive. I’ve been busy with packing and cleaning and moving and un-packing lately, but we’re almost completely un-packed and settled in now, so it won’t be long before i can take some pictures and blog about the whole experience. We’ve already had trouble with two appliances, but we really like the new place and it’s already feeling a lot like home (and saving us money, to boot!).

I’ve been running a little lately (on a treadmill – which i love because there are no hills, no chilly winds or sweltering sunshine and i don’t run long enough to get bored anyway). My normal clothes are starting to fit nicely again. 🙂 I haven’t connected to Nike+ in a long time, so maybe i’ll do that and post a run soon. We’ve also been taking ballroom dancing classes, which are a lot of fun. Nathan is a natural.

We’ve been watching some classic Sci-Fi moves that i somehow missed, like The Terminator and Planet of the Apes. I love it. I’ve been reading about love & marriage, ’cause what could be happier? I’ve been listening to all sorts of music for free on lala.com, which i highly recommend. The snows have all but melted and we are all very grateful that spring is making its long-awaited arrival. Today is the first work day on Daylight Saving Time, though, which is always a little challenging. 😕

Stay tuned – and in the meantime, check out my wedding inspiration blog if you haven’t already.

Moving On

As i mentioned before, Nathan and i have grown tired of conjoined living arrangements and have decided to leave our swanky downtown loft when our lease runs out at the end of this month. Several days ago that decision left us grasping at straws, trying desperately to rummage up a rental house posting on Craigslist that wasn’t already rented (and yet NOT removed? People, take your Craigslist posts down!) or terribly far away from either or both of our jobs. At the last minute, when we were about to go crawling back to our current landlord, we stumbled upon this:

house

Two-car garage, washer and dryer, a quiet, nice neighborhood in Beaverdale, two bedrooms and a stone’s throw from the nearest bus stop. All for a good price. We went over to take a look last night and ended up signing the rental agreement. The only things missing from the house are a dishwasher and any semblance of taste in the bathroom. It has green tiles EVERYwhere, and the wall space is painted light blue. It also needs a good scrubbing and a new light fixture. Gross.

So we’re planning to go in in two weeks and start painting and replacing things (the bedroom is also a nice pastel pink at the moment). But what color goes with not-quite-teal green? I’ve created some palettes with the approximate hue along with black, for the color of our towels. I also have some old lavender towels from college that we don’t really use, purple hand towels and one pink bath towel. Anyway. Here are the options so far:

bathroom

It’s hard to like any of them, really, but i haven’t come up with anything better yet. Any suggestions? Favorites? I’m leaning toward #2 myself, but to be honest i haven’t lived with that much color since my purple bedroom in high school. I’m a black-and-white kind of person (obviously).