Suggestions for clutter clearing teddy bears

Pile of teddies

Emails about disposing of a teddy bear you no longer love or want are still arriving in my inbox. My recent blog seems to have touched a core note with a lot of people.

Some people are horrified at the thought of disposing of their childhood companion in any way, even though they no longer have any practical use for it. Others have come up with creative ways to give away a bear that is still in good condition or dispose of one that’s seen better days.

Here are some of the suggestions I’ve received…

If you have bears in good condition, contact your local Police Department.  The Police in New Haven, Connecticut, USA started a program whereby the police officers carry two donated teddy bears in the trunk of each police car.  When they have to go to a house with a child in it who is traumatized – maybe abused, or there has been a fire or flood – they give the child a bear to make them feel comfortable.  If there is no such program in your town, suggest it to the Police.  One police lady officer started the program in our town. – Colette

Animal shelters and zoos can use stuffed toys (in any condition, I believe) for the animals to play with. My children’s favorite experience when we went to a zoo was watching a chimp play with a teddy bear and baby toys. – Chris

Give your beloved teddy bear to a trusted friend and ask them to find a new home for it. It would give your friend an opportunity to help and it would be a sweet way to let go of a special keepsake.- Noreen

Long before I heard about your work and books I did a real thorough clutter clearing. I was about 25 years old then. I tossed my beloved teddy bear because I just didn´t know what else to do. The important thing to know is that there is a mourning process and one should be aware of this. No matter how anyone will get rid of their beloved bear, you will probably miss him. I still miss mine 12 years later, but I would not want him back. I still know how his hugged-off fur felt. I think he is fine now, wherever he may be. – Susanne

‘Take a picture of your teddy bear and place in a scrapbook.  That’s what I do with flowers that have been given to me for a special occasion. Of course those flowers die but the love that they were given to me with always lives on.  Pictures are a nice (and space saving) reminder. – Joli

‘If you still love it, keep it! – Karoline

‘Donate them! I work in a restaurant. We have a section for kids toys and games. I put my own old toys and stuffed animals there. You cannot imagine how much joy it gives me to see children playing with the very same stuffed animals that I loved.’ – Erin

‘Do inanimate objects care if you get rid of them? No, they don’t! Thank the Universe for the use of the Teddy Bear, and then throw it out. Perform a ceremony if necessary. Be grateful that you are now an adult with better ways to comfort yourself. Free yourself from the childhood object as you free yourself from the childish ways.’ – Kathi

‘I felt for the lady with the teddy bear. I have in the past had that same issue, and I just kept the item (for years) until I was able to look at it and say, “I don’t feel the same way about it any longer. Then it felt good to let it go.’ – Anne

‘Although it was a sad day, I felt SO good when I said goodbye to my bear collection – 25 of them – knowing they would be welcomed into someone else’s home. I took photos of them before I packed them up.’ – Collete

‘Some ideas… For collectors, some of the most prized bears look well worn, well loved – check out the books of collectible bears at your local bookstore or library. Photos of well worn bears are also wonderful as greeting cards – photograph your bear and use the photos. An antique toy store might want your bear to be part of a window display. Check Craigslist, Google, etc. for photographers, collectors, or bear makers. There are clubs for all of these.’ – Evelyn

‘Well Karen, you always say, keep what you need or love. If you still love your teddy bear, why get rid of it? I do not have any problems with keeping one or two things from my childhood. I have a special place for them – a memory box. It is not that big and does not take much space. Every time when I go through my box I get warm inside. Sometimes I feel that something in the memory box does not need to be there anymore. Then I get rid of it. And sometimes I put a new thing in the memory box. But the size of the box remains the same. I think we all need a memory box or drawer for that special things.’ – Pia

‘We can’t clutter our forests with teddy bears. That could start a trend that could lead to something really ugly. If needed, take a picture with your bear, say your good-byes and let him go. It is not possible that he could ever leave your heart.’ – Anne

‘In ‘The Velveteen Rabbit’ by Marjory Williams, the Skin Horse, a venerable old toy who had been loved to worn outness, tells the Velveteen Rabbit about becoming real, that it happens when someone (a child) really loves you. When your bear has become real, he or she is part of you. If it is time to let the well loved and well worn physical form of the bear go, plant a beautiful tree over your bear in a place you know will make you happy and will bring happiness to many others. Maybe there are children who can help you with this ritual.’ – Sue

‘Maybe hold a ‘funeral’ and bury your teddy bear? Alternatively, animal shelters and veterinarian clinics are always looking for animal-safe toys (as well as old sheets, towels, and linens… another good way to get rid of things too old and ratty for charities to accept). Perhaps you could take some photos of it to remember it by, then donate it to an animal shelter as a companion for one of the animals?’ – Melissa

‘There are many crafts people who may wish to use old teddy bears and toys to reclaim the materials used. The materials can be taken apart and used in a new bear or toy: eg fabric, eye buttons, etc. Some of these old teddy bears have very valuable parts to them that are difficult to find now. At least you may be comforted by the idea that your teddy bear is being created anew – and your fond memories are going with it. Advertising your bear’s parts on sites such as the Freecycle (non-profit global recycling) site may be the way to go.’ – Jennifer

‘Getting rid of a well-loved teddy bear (no matter how much one feels one has moved on) is like getting rid of part of one’s soul. OK, they’re cloth and stuffing with beady glass or shoe-button eyes, but like many of the comments I’ve read, they have the imprint of love someone has put there. I mean, you and that bear have a history together, much like a person and their dog or cat (which you wouldn’t euthanize and bury unless it was suffering). How much space can ONE bear take up? Get rid of something else you don’t need, such as that kitschy plastic statue Aunt Clara sent you from San Francisco. I still have my first teddy bear from 48 years ago, plus the one my mother gave me the year she passed away, and a tiny beanie my fiance and I bought together (we take her everywhere). Three bears, two grown-ups.’ – Diane

‘I think the burial would be the best way. Do a little ceremony and let go. Dust to dust. An acknowledgment, in ritual, for a best friend.’ – Fenella

Copyright © Clear Space Living Ltd 2007

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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 fifth 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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