Move Beyond Decluttering to Minimizing – Clothes and Shoes

Collection of Multicolored Women's High-Heel Shoes

This year for spring cleaning, move beyond decluttering your clothes closet to minimizing what is in it, forever. These five tips will help you get started.

Reducing your clothing, shoes, and accessories down to the items you actually wear and then keeping your wardrobe at a minimum has a double benefit. First, getting dressed will be easier, faster, and guilt free since you no longer have to look at things you never wear. Second, it is good for the environment because it reduces the need to make new clothing, which involves using raw materials, water, energy, toxic dyes, and harmful chemicals.

Minimizing is a more ruthless form of decluttering, which will likely require you to wrestle with your feelings about the clothing you own now and change your approach to adding items to your wardrobe in the future.

Below are some tips that may help you navigate through the emotional aspects of minimizing your wardrobe.

1. Give Yourself a Break

Do any of your clothes still have price tags on them? Has your wardrobe expanded into the guest room closet? Is there anything in your closet or dresser that you have not worn in two years or more?

Did you answer yes to one or more of the questions above? I did, too.

Recently, when I surveyed my wardrobe, I still had clothes and shoes suitable for the corporate work world that I left over six years ago and was hanging onto other things I had not worn in years. I felt embarrassed and a little ashamed. It seemed wasteful and even selfish to have unworn things hanging in my closet and tucked away in shoeboxes and in my jewelry box.

There is nothing you or I can do about our clothing past so I propose giving ourselves a break and moving forward with minimizing our wardrobes now and then trying to keep them that way in the future.

2. Who Are You Now

As your circumstances change throughout your life your wardrobe changes, too. The overcrowded closet problem arises when you move from one life change to the next without jettisoning the wardrobe items that you no longer need or like.

Ask yourself what clothes, shoes, and accessories you want and need for the person you are now and consider getting rid of everything else.

Do you have snow apparel or shorts from when you were living in a different climate that you will probably not wear in the foreseeable future? Have you retired from paid work or changed jobs and no longer need the business suits, ties, or uniforms hanging in your closet? Are you still holding on to clothes worn by your younger and/or smaller self that you will never wear again (be honest)? When all of your favorite clothes are in the dirty clothes hamper, do you put on your just-in-case clothes or do you do the laundry?

Once you have honestly assessed your current needs, you are ready to begin clearing out the items that do not fit your minimized wardrobe requirements.

The most difficult things to let go of are the items you have a special attachment to like handbags, ties, shoes, sweaters, jewelry, jeans, or _____.

If this pertains to you, try wearing each item and then putting aside the ones that are not your favorites. Keep repeating the process until you are either down to one or what seems like a drastic reduction to you.

3. Imagine a New Life for Your Gently Worn Clothes

Another minimizing strategy is to imagine who could benefit from the wardrobe items you do not wear or need but are having a hard time removing from your closet.

Over the years, I had been reducing my corporate wardrobe but I still had a sizable collection of clothes, high-heel shoes, and jewelry that I did not wear anymore. I was down to my favorites so they were the most difficult to part with.

I decided to donate my work clothes, high-heel shoes, and a lot of my jewelry to a nonprofit organization helping to empower women by providing support and professional attire.

With that decision made, I began boxing up the items I was donating.

Even though nowadays I rarely wear high-heels, narrowing down to one pair was agonizing for me. For work, I had bought expensive, well made, and beautiful shoes. How could I pick just one pair? My solution was to put on each pair of shoes and wear them around the house for a half an hour or so and then decide which heels were the most comfortable.

4. Inspirational Clothing

If you find yourself justifying holding onto clothes because you might wear them some day, go back a read tip 2 and 3 again.

Then decide if you have any inspirational clothes you want to keep, meaning clothes that you do not or can not wear now but that you aspire to wear in the future.

I kept two pairs of size 10 jeans as my inspirational clothing items. They were my favorite weed whacking and yard work pants until I gained 25 pounds during breast cancer treatment (I was one of those people who gained weight during chemotherapy). Now, I am working on shedding those extra pounds and looking forward to being able to pull on my old jeans.

5. A Word about Donating

By donating your gently worn clothing, you are giving it a second life with a new person. This is a people friendly practice and an environmentally sound solution for getting rid of unwanted clothes, shoes, and accessories.

However, there is a downside to donating. If you do not have growing children but are donating clothing on a regular basis it might be time re-evaluate your clothes buying habits. Are you donating existing clothes to justify buying new things? If you are, then perhaps you are not ready to minimize your wardrobe, yet.

Minimizing your wardrobe can be both cathartic and agonizing. Having an uncluttered closet holding only the clothing you like and do wear gives you a sense of accomplishment and makes getting dressed a pleasure.

Please share your wardrobe minimizing stories and strategies with other readers.

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Safely Disposing of Expired and Leftover Medications is Easy

Medicine Cabinet with Over-the-Counter and Prescription Medicines

Is your medicine cabinet crammed with expired over-the-counter medications and leftover prescription drugs? If so, it is easy to dispose of them safely.

Recently, as part of my household decluttering and minimizing project, I cleared out and then cleaned our bathroom medicine cabinets, drawers, and cupboards. During this process, I used a cardboard box to collect expired over-the-counter medications like cough syrup and allergy pills and prescription drugs left over from my treatment for breast cancer.

Flushing these medications down the toilet or tossing them in the trash did not seem like an environmentally friendly disposal method so I searched online for a solution.

I learned about how keeping expired and unneeded medications on hand can be dangerous for people in your household and how flushing medications down the toilet can contaminate water and harm aquatic wildlife.

I was pleasantly surprised to discover that I could safely dispose of my unwanted medications at the pharmacy in the small town where I live, so that is what I did.

It was easy. I took my cardboard medication collection box to the pharmacy, gave it to one of the store clerks, and she dumped it in the medication disposal kiosk.

You too can keep yourself and your family (including pets) safe by periodically clearing out your medicine cabinet of expired and leftover medications and disposing of them in a safe and environmentally friendly way.

Why Should You Get Rid of Expired and Leftover Medications?

It may seem like having expired and leftover medications in your medicine cabinet in no big deal. However, it could be.

Here are some reasons for getting rid of unneeded medications.

  • Taking someone else’s medication on purpose or accidentally ingesting it can lead to overdose, poisoning, and even death (even things like cough syrup can be abused). Anyone with access to your medicine cabinet including visitors can take your medications.
  • Unintentionally taking expired medications or mixing incompatible medications can be harmful.
  • A cluttered medicine cabinet makes it more difficult to find the current and correct medications you may need.

Why not Flush Medications down the Toilet or Toss them in the Trash?

You may not realize that wastewater treatment facilities are not designed to remove pharmaceuticals flushed down the toilet or drain. These substances can pass through the water treatment process and end up in lakes, streams, oceans, aquifers, and groundwater. Traces of painkillers, antibiotics, hormones, anti-depressants, and other drugs can harm aquatic wildlife and even end up in your drinking water.

Medications tossed in the trash can present problems too. People and pets can retrieve them either on purpose or accidentally. Medications that are sent landfills can leach into the soil and cause contamination.

With a little effort, you can get rid of your unwanted medications without flushing them down the toilet or tossing them in the trash.

Medication Disposal Programs

Although, there is no national medication disposal program, there are programs all across the country. Partnerships between pharmacies, municipal waste management authorities, and law enforcement agencies make these programs possible.

Medicine Disposal Kiosk at Cambria Drug & Gift Pharmacy
Medicine Disposal Kiosk at Cambria Drug & Gift Pharmacy

This is how they work.

Programs do vary by municipality, county, or state but usually involve going to a pharmacy, police station, or other location and putting your medications in a collection kiosk or obtaining a special envelope and mailing them to a collection facility.

There may be special handling requirements for disposing of controlled substances (medications that require a paper prescription, like Vicodin).

After being collected through these various programs, unwanted medications are picked up and transported to waste facilities where they are destroyed, often by being incinerated.

National Take-Back Initiative

The DEA Diversion Control Division offers periodic take-back events where you can drop off your medications at a designated location on a specific day.

The next national event is scheduled for Saturday, April 29, 2017, from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

After April 1, you can visit the National Take-Back Initiative website to search for a drop-off location near you.

I hope that you are convinced that clearing out your medicine cabinet and getting rid of expired and leftover medications is a good idea and that disposing of them in an environmentally safe manner is worth a little extra effort.

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