The loft that time forgot…

If you, like many people up and down the land, have just made your annual trip up to the loft to pull down your Christmas decorations, you will know what I’m talking about. Your heart sinks as you see random items that are shoved up there out of the house and out of your way, out of sight and out of mind. Why not take the opportunity while you are up there anyway to have a good look around and take stock? You might even decide to take the bull by the horns and embark on a declutter.

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The loft is a voyage of discovery. Whatever your reason for going up there: loft insulation, bending rafters, making sense of the space: you are bound to find things that were forgotten. Lofts and garages are often a halfway house and can be easy to declutter. You’ve already decided the items don’t belong in your living space so they have a temporary home in your loft until you can make the decision to get rid of them. So maybe now is that time.

  • Make sure you have a decent ladder. If it is fixed, make sure it is secure as you are going up and down several times.
  • It is essential to have someone with you for the project to help with carrying and making the ladder steady. A loft declutter can be overwhelming so you need a helping hand.
  • Invest in some robust clear boxes to replace the cardboard ones that may have deteriorated, and to improve the look, and stacking capability. Loose things should be in boxes where possible.
  • It is also worth having with you some large labels and a black marker pen to clearly label up your sorted boxes so you can see without moving them what the contents are.
  • Have a wide sweep of the things you can see that you know you do not need and bring those down immediately.
  • Lofts often house collections and it is worth checking they are still of worth to you personally and stored adequately.
  • When you have finished, zone your loft and map out the layout of what is where.
  • Lofts could be zoned into household items, toys and clothes that are going to be useful for younger children, memorabilia, suitcases and travel,seasonal decorations, archival paperwork, photos (if the space is dry).

A loft conversion can add 20% to the value of your home and in some cases means you do not need to move house for extra space. Height, pitch and footprint will determine what you decide to do with your loft. But before you can do a loft conversion, you need to do a serious declutter. Go on, you know you want to!!

 

Gift recycling – are you a fan?

gift-1008894_1920.jpgHow fast did November go by? Can’t believe it’s December already and the seasons’ festivities are almost upon us. December is a busy time for us declutterers as it starts to dawn on people what needs to be done to prepare for that ‘perfect’ day.

It would be so nice if our homes were visitor ready year round but invariably they’re not and we always have a flurry of new clients wanting to declutter so they can feel proud of their homes when family and friends come to visit. Whilst I’m a big fan of November being the best time of the year to declutter, decluttering in December presents options to think a bit differently.

As a declutterer I have close encounters with people’s bad shopping decisions time after time. For me, if you’ve bought it, not used it and often can’t remember even buying it, it’s a no brainer to let it go to someone else who can enjoy it. For most of the year the options of where to offload your stuff are fairly standard:

  • family/friends (but please make sure they actually want your stuff so you’re not just involved in the great clutter pass the parcel game)
  • Ebay/Gumtree/Facebook selling sites
  • charity shops
  • Freecycle

But in December there are lots of brilliant ways to pass on your stuff and feel your impulsive purchase was not wasted. It’s called gift recycling. To be fair, it’s something that many people are uncomfortable with but as we all work towards a society with less waste it’s worth thinking about. December is a time for reflection on the year past, thanking those who’ve helped us and for thinking about those less fortunate. There are infinite opportunities to give gifts and extend kindness

  • teachers, TAs, lunchtime assistants, lollipop people (I’m pretty sure they’re not called lollipop people anymore so if someone wants to enlighten me I’d be grateful!)
  • toy appeals
  • food banks
  • secret santa gifts
  • school fairs
  • bottle tombolas

There are lots of possibilities. This list only scratches the surface. All you need to do is a good search around your home, look in drawers, wardrobes, in your food cupboards, in the loft, spare room. Gather your unwanted things together, make sure they are in date/not too dusty/still in fashion and gift away. Let the guilt go – despite your worst fears Auntie Beryl isn’t going to pop round and demand to know why you’re not wearing your Britney Spears slippers but someone somewhere is going to be delighted with them! And you are one step closer to that clutter free home. It’s a Win Win situation.

Never entirely sure about what to take to the Charity Shop?

One thing my Clutter Fairy clients love is the fact that I take stuff away at the end of the day. It’s gone for good and with it a weight is lifted. At the end of every session I drop off at my local PDSA Charity Shop. Sometimes, I’m happy to tell them that it’s a lucrative stash, other days, not so good.

There are definitely misconceptions around about what can and can’t be sent to the Charity Shop so I made an appointment with the lovely Ambia, Manager at the PDSA in Sale, and thought I would get straight from the horse’s mouth exactly what happens to our stuff when we drop it off.

The basic message is that at least 98% of the stuff that comes through the door is used in some way and most of that sees some kind of financial return for the charity whether it be sold, recycled, ragged etc. I found that statistic absolutely staggering.

Here are some questions I get asked alot. Ambia answered them all for me.

If my jumper has a hole in it or I have an odd sock, surely the Charity Shop doesn’t want it?

ANY clothes, shoes, towels, dishcloths, knickers, socks, tights will be accepted. Every bag you send will be sorted through with a fine toothcomb and a decision made about whether it will be sold or ragged. An average binbag is about 4 to 6 kilos which will, if ragged, get the charity about £3. Ragging adds up to alot of extra cash for the charity so please please don’t send your old clothes to landfill. These rags get redistributed around the UK and Third World.

What do I do with electrical stuff?

Only if it is sealed and in its original packaging can it be sold without testing. All electricals need to be PAT Tested for Health and Safety so only certain Charity Shops will accept them but there are lots that do. Check on their websites, give them a call or just ask instore.

What about videos?

It really depends on the area, some shops will sell videos or will redistribute them to another charity that will send them overseas. BHF, for example, will take videos and advertise that they sell them.

Some of the stuff I am sending is valuable. I don’t want to see it being sold for £1.

As part of the training for all volunteers and management, they are instructed how to identify vintage clothes, designer brands and antiques. Each charity has specialists that they can ask for advice if in doubt. The pricing in charity shops is strictly governed and items are priced in bands.

What happens to foreign coins and stamps?

They go to a specialist and then are sold in bulk. Any gold or silver is either put in the shop or sold to a gold merchant.

I’m never sure whether to sort stuff into categories to make it easier for the volunteers.

It really isn’t vital as every bag will be sorted meticulously by the volunteers. The only thing that needs to be separate is fragile items. If something breaks in a bag, it means the whole bag is unusable as staff won’t be able to sort through it due to Health and Safety legislation.

I send lots of really great clothes but never see them for sale in the shop. Where are they?

When stuff is sorted it is often sent to other local shops. What will sell well in, say a student area, might not work so well in an area dominated by families. If it doesn’t sell in that shop it is sent to other shops with different demographics and invariably it will get sold somewhere in the chain.

I know they don’t recycle duvets and blankets at the tip, what about the Charity Shop?

Blankets,towels and duvets sent to a PDSA are sent straight to the animal hospital.

When I am sending books, what if they are damaged?

If they are damaged and cannot be sold they will be recycled.

What about large items of furniture?

Most charities have vans that will pick up large items. Beds and sofas need to have the appropriate fire resistant standards.

So, hopefully that has given you an idea of what can and cannot be taken to the Charity Shop. One thing I would like to add is that this information came from the Manager of a specific shop. Please check carefully with the shop you use to ensure they work along the same principles. For me, as a declutterer, taking some weeks maybe sixty bags or more to the shop I am comforted that so much of it is getting sold, redistributed or recycled.

So, the moral of this blog is, if in doubt, put it in the charity bag. Someone somewhere will have a use for it and you could be helping raise vital cash for the PDSA or your own designated charity.