This week, I find myself having to confront old demons to prepare for a big move. The New Year will find me simultaneously downsizing and upgrading to share a home with a wonderful partner. While I'll be moving to a more spacious place, a purge is in order because showing up with boxes full of junk (including a mortifying CD collection that has taken to following me around) doesn't exactly say, "hello beloved one!" (Neither does showing up with a Deepak Chopra book collection of the same name.)
This move around, I've decided to combine my yen for streamlining with the giving spirit of the festive season. By planning months ahead of my actual move, I can avoid a last-minute dash for the dumpster (and EcoGuilt™) by choosing to regift, recycle and reuse wherever possible. Whether you are planning to move now or soonish, you may want to take a similar approach to de-cluttering. Here are some helpful services and ideas I've come across in the GTA:
- Drop off gently-used clothing (clean and in reasonably good shape), but beware: while Toronto might be littered with clothing drop-off boxes, some of your clothes could be sold for profit. Goodwill and local women's shelters are good bets.
- Optical stores like Hakim's (which has teamed up with Lions Club International) take old eyeglasses and refit them for use in the developing world.
- The Toronto Zoo collects old cellphones for recycling (every cellphone donated results in a monetary contribution for the Zoo). You can drop off or mail in your old phones.
- Lighten up a pantry that overestimates your cooking skills. Rarely used canned vegetables and soups can be more of a hassle to move than they are worth - consider donating these goods to food banks, which are heavily used over the holidays. The Daily Food Bank lists over 160 member agencies across the GTA.
- If you are jumping into another('s) bed, consider donating your own to charities like the Furniture Bank, which arranges to pick-up furniture for a fee in order to better house homeless and refugee families in our city (please note that there are many items that the bank cannot accept like office furniture).
- Make sure you recycle rather than discard old electronics, which are detrimental when sent to landfills. Reboot.ca fixes or recycles your old computers and provides refurbished units to schools or charities in your area.
- Lighten up your bookshelves (and make more room for British murder mysteries) by letting go of the idea that you'll ever need to revisit your Criminology 101 textbook. The Canadian School Book Exchange buys back textbooks for which markets still exist and takes donations for older books that might still be of use overseas.
- Decided to abandon the space you're living in, rather than face the spectre of a DYI reno gone wrong? Contact Habitat for Humanity's Restore to see if they can make use of your gently used tools or building materials (not everything can be used so do call ahead).
- If you'd like to off-set some of your moving expenses by selling off some furniture to someone close by, try seeking the permission of those in charge of nearby apartment buildings, which tend to house a more mobile population in need of quick furnishing solutions, and post up 'for sale' notices. Alternately, list items on university classified boards. Remember to take well-lit pictures of your furniture in a home-setting to help you advertise more effectively.
- Local recycling collectives like Freecycle can help you find new homes for old objects and give you a warm fuzzy community feeling at the same time - residents pass on items for free.
- And of course, in today's world of Craigslist and Facebook online communities, there is no excuse for failing to find a new home for any unwanted object you might have - for love or money. If it's the latter you're after, eBay is also an option, particularly if you have rare goodies like a Commodore 64 stashed away behind your Bananarama CD.
- For more great reuse and donation ideas, consult the City of Toronto's comprehensive listing.
Please research any of the above services before use to ensure that they meet your functional and ethical needs. Happy streamlining - may the force be with you!
Urmi Desai is an economic analyst and a freelance writer specializing in urban issues. She is editor of the Move Smartly blog. Email Urmi
Photo credit (above): uberfashion.co.uk
November 29, 2007