Declutter your apartment — and improve someone else’s life



Cleaning out your apartment isn’t just beneficial for you (and your roommates); it can also benefit someone else if you donate to the right place. So the next time you decide to rid your home of excess stuff, carefully consider where you want it to go. If this is the first time you’ve seriously decluttered your apartment, use our guide to get started:

  • First things first: start sifting. Chucking items you don’t need can be a cathartic experience, but it can also be an emotional one. Sometimes stuff that carries sentimental value is no longer functional, and it’s not always easy to draw the line. When you’re trying purge unnecessary junk, consider making three piles: to chuck, to keep, and undecided. If a piece of artwork or ratty armchair has sentimental value that makes it impossible to part with, then don’t. It’s better to have to do a few rounds of purging than to take something to the thrift store that you’ll regret giving up down the road.
  • Ask yourself, is this worth donating? Depending on where you’ll be taking your extra stuff, it will need to meet different standards. Some secondhand shops only take things that are in new or nearly new condition, whereas others don’t mind if an item appears gently used or even slightly worn. If you’re getting rid of something solely because it’s in poor condition, not because you no longer have a use for it, then chances are a local store or charity isn’t going to want it, either. Use your best judgment when it comes to donations.
  • Consider a yard sale instead—and donate the proceeds. While donating your extra things could put them directly into the hands of someone who needs them, many charities need a financial boost instead. If you want to donate to a charity that doesn’t really deal in last season’s clothing or used furniture, you might want to think about holding a yard sale instead and giving away the money you make. For charities that research life-threatening illnesses, contribute to conservation efforts, or fund humanitarian endeavors abroad, your dollars are going to make much larger of an impact than an old mirror that doesn’t match your current decor.
  • Or pick the proper place to donate the goods. If you do ultimately decide that donating your old house wares, wardrobe, and other expendables is the way to go, you’ll want to carefully consider which company receives them. Donating to a local charity is the most eco-friendly way to go, as your goods won’t incur transportation fees and suck up the associated energy. But if a nearby charity doesn’t come to mind immediately, refer tothis comprehensive list from Apartment Therapy to find a fitting national organization. Books for Africa, for instance, will export your gently used paperbacks to students in Africa. Dress for Success can get your old suits and business casual attire into the hands of a woman who’s currently interviewing for jobs, but doesn’t have a professional wardrobe of her own. Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore takes your old furnishings and puts them into the homes of deserving families. Of course, you can’t go wrong with a donation to a local Goodwill. The well-known chain of thrift stores donates more than 80 percent of its proceeds training and employment programs for people with special needs or disabilities.