Socially responsible decluttering during self-isolation

There’s been a huge upsurge in clutter clearing since millions of people around the world have been in self-isolation, stuck at home with their stuff and nothing else to do.

Self-isolation decluttering

While you’re out and about having a busy life, it’s easy to ignore how claustrophobic your home has become, crammed full of things you never use. But if you suddenly find yourself in self-isolation, forced to stay at home with all your stuff for weeks on end, that’s when tidying, organizing and decluttering your stuff becomes the obvious thing to do. You’ve been meaning to get round to it and now you have the time.

The big problem is, what to do with all the things you want to let go of? In most parts of the world, all the charity shops are closed. You’re not allowed to drive to your local waste disposal or recycling centre and in many places, they are closed anyway. So what can you do?

Letting go of things after clutter clearing is one of the most satisfying parts of the process. It makes your home feel less clogged, which makes you feel better. And if you decide to sell items, gift them or donate them to charity, it feels good to know that others will be able to use the things you no longer need or want.

Be considerate

Many countries are reporting an increase in illegal dumping of garbage since lockdown began. Here in the UK, it’s punishable by a fine of up to £50,000 or 12 months in jail but some people are still doing it, gambling that they won’t get caught. Councils are pleading with people not to do this at a time when they are doing their best to collect everyone’s general garbage each week, even with staff shortages.

And I’d like to add my voice here too.

Yes, I encourage you to take this opportunity to declutter and organize your home. Putting it in order will bring you up to date in your life and put you in the best situation to weather these unusual times. But the letting go part will have to wait until later.

Dumping the stuff you don’t want by the roadside creates an expensive mess for your local authority to clean up later and an eyesore for everyone who sees it in the meantime. It’s socially irresponsible, especially at a time like this, when we all need to work together.

As the UK’s Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, said recently, ‘We want to look back at this moment and remember the many small acts of kindness done by us and to us. We want to look back on this time and remember how we thought first of others and acted with decency. We want to look back on this time and remember how, in the face of a generation-defining moment, we undertook a collective national effort — and we stood together. It’s on all of us.’

What to do with your stuff

If your life until now has been time-poor and clutter-rich, lockdown presents an unexpected and abrupt reversal of this. Suddenly you have lots of time to declutter if you want to.

Letting go of the items you no longer love or need after clutter clearing doesn’t take long at all. For most people, it’s takes as little as 1% of the time involved, or perhaps as much as 10%, depending on the complexity of the method you choose. It’s the sorting process itself that takes so much time, as you make decisions about what to keep and what to let go. And if time is what you have plenty of at the moment, it makes perfect sense to do that part now and leave the letting go for later.

The problem with holding on to clutter is not just the space it takes up but the stagnant energy that accumulates around it and the corresponding stagnating effect it has on your life. So the best way to handle this during lockdown is not to store it all in one place but to split it into in a few different areas of your home, grouped according to how you will let go of it when you are able to. For example, put charity donations in one area, items you want to gift to friends or family in another, things you want to sell in another location, and so on.

It will work best to store the items in clearly labelled bags or boxes, out of sight but not out of mind. When lockdown ends, take the first opportunity you can to move them out of your home and complete your clutter clearing process. When life gets busy again, make sure your stash doesn’t linger in your home any longer than it has to. Here’s a link to an article to read at that time to inspire you to let go of it as soon as you can: Don’t forget this very satisfying part of clutter clearing.

Copyright © Karen Kingston 2020


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Self-isolation – a unique experience for the world

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About Karen Kingston

Karen Kingston is a leading expert in clutter clearing, space clearing, feng shui and healthy homes. Her two international bestselling books have combined sales of over three million copies in 26 languages and have established themselves as "must read" classics in their fields. Her best-known title, Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui, is now in its fourth edition. She is best known for her perspective-changing insights and practical solutions that enable more conscious navigation of 21st-century living.
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4 Responses to Socially responsible decluttering during self-isolation

  1. Paula says:

    I agree re FREE! I live on a country road and place unwanted items at the end of our driveway with FREE signs placed on each side of the item(s). Not one piece has been left behind. I’m very happy to see my former treasures go to a new home.

    This is a difficult, sad time for many. We are learning a lesson about what is most important to us…our family and friends, but not our material belongings.

  2. Belinda says:

    If it is things I plan on donating anyway, I place items out in the common trash pick up area on a non-trash day with a FREE sign on it. It is usually gone that day.

  3. Yoko says:

    Great advice! Recently someone asked if anyone knew a private rubbish disposal company and everyone on this online group asked him/her not to use them as they would probably dump illegally.

    I think easier way of reducing clutter is to eat those ‘forgotten foods’ from the kitchen cupboard and fridge/freezer. I am also enjoying having a bath with bath salt I forgot I’d received some years ago (now I have time for regular bath!). Finally, I’ve just ordered herbal colon cleansing programme products online. Take care and stay safe x

  4. Ruby says:

    This is a timely article rang SO true! I’m even more motivated (from desire of relief from that feeling of suffocating inside) to let go & surrender my stuff.

    I’ve been in a shedding process for years, it’s becoming a way of life to be aware of my stuff; only now I’m more & more conscious of wanting flow with my items so that I’m not unconsciously accumulating more stuff (shopping used to curb my anxiety which I’m now forced to facing head on)!

    Is it then okay to accelerate the process? With this pandemic I feel more a sense of urgency to release the junk & be less sentimental about things (like clothes that look bad on me, children’s school , and unfinished projects/art supplies).

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