Thursday, 2 March 2017

Lent de-cluttering 2 - Where to take your unwanted stuff

It occurred to me that here at the beginning, the day after Ash Wednesday (Soot Thursday?), it might be sensible to think about categories of disposal – different things have to go to different places. In fact, one of the most time-consuming aspects of de-cluttering is making sure nothing is wasted, as little as possible goes to landfill, and anyone who can use what I am chucking out gets the chance to do so.


Near the masonry where Alice and Hebe work there’s a little shop that cuts keys and does shoe repairs. Outside they put a crate where you can drop off shoes in need of repair.

They collect them to send overseas, where people in poverty have the skills to mend shoes, and are pleased to have pairs good enough to refurbish and sell on. That’s where this bag will go. Perhaps there's one near you?

There are also charities that collect underwear for African women. Panties must be new, but bras can be lightly worn. Easy to find on a Google search. The Salvation Army is one of few charities that also accept bras that have been worn. That’s where these are going.


There’s good old eBay. A couple of us in our house sell good clothes and shoes on eBay. I’m in favour of the informal economy – it’s a shade better than regular consumerism, reduces waste and allows people with very little money to make a bit more. But we don’t stockpile stuff into European Clothes Mountains – if it doesn’t sell first time round, we move it on.


This bag is full of nice clothes that didn’t sell in a week on eBay, so they are destined for the charity shop. We have two charity shops at the end of our road – one raises money to help blind people, the other is for our hospice’s complementary therapies initiative started by a local doctor in memory of his daughter who died in the hospice. She greatly benefited from things like reflexology and massage, and he wanted others in a similar situation to have that chance too.


Another category of disposal is what I call “moving it sideways”. In our house, that means simply asking “Does anyone else want this?” Last week, on our bathroom windowsill, a row of Lush bath goodies appeared, along with a “Please help yourself note” – they went fast!

So my item in this category is a small cast iron pot. I used to cook in it, but the Badger found it fiddly and got new saucepans – which I must say are nice.

Our Alice is very low in iron, and isn’t keen on taking iron pills, but fortunately our spring where we collect water is a chalybeate spring (iron spring). And if you cook with something made of iron, that helps. So she has taken on this pot to make her bean stews and soups etc.


Buttons, beads, single earrings, ribbons, elastic or bias binding, ends of material, left-over balls of wool – sometimes these accumulate and you know you’ll never use them, really, but it seems wasteful to just throw them away.

We have a friend who makes beautiful craft items and likes to receive such odds and ends – and you probably know someone who does, too.

But all is not lost if you don’t. Sometimes I put together a craft kit or art kit, and post it on

– all great websites for connecting those who have something to dispose of with those who want it. Even half-tins of paint, or small lengths of chicken wire, or old bamboo garden canes, or boxes of electrical cables that came with something but what?


My last disposal category today is playgroups. They often like to receive clean junk that can be made into sculptures or otherwise repurposed – washing-up liquid bottles, cereal/laundry powder boxes, yoghourt pots etc.

This bag of foil trays is going to our local home-education group. I’m sending it along with a bag of compost, for the children to plant seeds and learn about growing plants. I was going to make up a bag of our own compost, then I though of all the worms and little beetles escaping and frolicking about the hall where they meet, and decided on a bag of sterilised compost from the garden shop instead.

I hope that gives you some good ideas of where to send on your 40 bags without wasting anything more than you need to!


Deborah said...

Sometime charity shops take fabric things to sell for for ragging...ours does, so scraps of fabric that can't be used for something else or those leggings with a hole in the knee might still be useful to them. It's worth checking with your local one to see if they do it.

Pen Wilcock said...

Good idea x

Diane Shiffer said...

You've inspired me Pen dear. ❤

Pen Wilcock said...


I *love* your new photo - you are so beautiful!

Elin said...

I am doing some decluttering and rearrangements too. Not because of Lent but because it is one of my maternity leave projects for when I get sick of being a milk producer and baby cuddler and need to use my brain a bit (and this baby sleeps, the first one didn't). Right now the project is books and I have decided to get rid of quite a few but there will still be tons of them left. I love books so that is expected. I have gotten rid of some clothes and kitchen stuff and all of that needs to go to the charity shop. I don't own clothes that are nice enough that I can sell them and get any real profit so they go directly to the charity shop.

Pen Wilcock said...

Hi Elin!

About the books - I think having tons left is fine. If you go through your things and everything left is loved and has a place to live, that's part of making your home homely - warm and expressive. Those minimalist houses with virtually nothing in them always look rather chilling to me. Books on their shelves remind me of wall-hung tapestries - kind of beautiful home insulation that you can also read!

Elin said...

I am not a minimalist, that is just a fact. I don't want to own the optimal number of things and I will always own things I don't need unless someone takes them away from me by force. That doesn't mean I don't like to get rid of some of them sometimes and sometimes by other things and sometimes just let them go and reduce clutter. I just don't want loads of things everywhere.

I follow a Swedish minimalist blog which has a lot of interesting posts but I would go crazy asking myself if I really need every single thing and if I could get rid of it. I am not crazy about minimalism as style, my favorite homes are those you sometimes find in the hands of an old lady with all kinds of mismatched but nice and/or practical things. Hand embroided linen towels made by her mother 100 years ago is next to a modern plastic cup but they are both things this lady likes and that she uses.

Pen Wilcock said...

Ah yes - I know those kind of homes!


Lesley Gilchrist said...

Hi Lesley here
Years ago the Play
Council in Hastings started
a scrap store,not sure if it is
still going
Love to you all x

Pen Wilcock said...

Hiya — oh yes — here it is!