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Giving Tuesday: How to Give Back While Cleaning Out Your Closet

Nov 28, 2017

Giving Tuesday: How to Give Back While Cleaning Out Your Closet

So, we made it through the Thanksgiving feasting, Black Friday madness, the Cyber Monday craziness–after several days of over-eating and excessive spending, this is right around the time of the year where I start feeling a little….over-indulgent. Do you feel the same way too?

Luckily, today is Giving Tuesday–a global day of giving fueled by the power of social media! I’m excited take a break from the gift guides and sale posts today to shift gears and share a few small things we can do together this season to give back to our communities! Today, I’m partnering with The Salvation Army to share a few very easy ways you can get involved!

I’m sure you’re familiar with the Salvation Army, right? They do a lot right here in Chicago to provide emergency financial assistance, grocery assistance through food pantries; educational and recreational programs for children, adults and seniors; and leadership training and character development for youth.

During the holiday season, besides donated dollars in their famous red kettles, what The Salvation Army Chicago needs most in their annual holiday #FightForGood initiative, are gently used clothing donations, especially coats. 

(This is where you and I come in, the avid shoppers that we are!)

I make it a point to thoroughly go through and clean out my closet twice per year. (I literally went nuts over the weekend cleaning out all our closets). There are a few reasons for this: I can’t stand when I have too much stuff–the clutter gives me anxiety and you know what they say–you only wear 20% of your closet regularly. Having less items actually gives me the liberty to be more creative with my outfits and enables me to keep things more tidy and organized. (Neal might tell you otherwise, but I’m a constant work in progress! :-P)

Furthermore, gently used clothing donations are ALWAYS in high demand. Think of how many items you purchase and rarely ever wear? While that sweater with the tags still on it will never see the light of day in your wardrobe, it could brighten someone else’s entire holiday season.

Challenge: I would love to challenge you to go through your closet and if nothing else, pick just 5 items to donate this week. There are THOUSANDS of you reading this blog post today–imagine how much of an impact we would have if we all chose just a few items to donate? We could help so many!

I get it. Cleaning out your closet can be a chore, but I’ve done it quite a bit over the years, and have it down to science. Not sure how to go about it?

Here are my favorite closet cleaning tips to weed out what you don’t need from your wardrobe:

Take everything out of the closet.

Now, if you’re not willing to dive into a full overhaul, you can skip this step. You definitely don’t have to go through your whole closet to make a difference this holiday season, but, I will tell you, doing a full closet sweep is perhaps THE most satisfying thing you could do this season to simplify your life.

Anyway, my biggest tip is to start with EVERYTHING out of your closet. To avoid getting overwhelmed, you can do this shelf by shelf, but if you’re like me and don’t trust yourself to complete the job, I’d recommend throwing EVERYTHING out at once so you’re forced to keep organizing until everything is put back in place. (The things I do to trick myself).

The purpose of this is to take inventory. It’s not usually until I see 10 pairs of jeans laying out on my bed that I realize “wow, I seriously only wear three pairs of these! How ridiculous!” It really helps to put things into perspective.

Giving Tuesday: How to Give Back While Cleaning Out Your Closet

Take inventory

The easiest way to pare down your wardrobe is to start by taking inventory. I’ve become more and more ruthless over the years with my criteria (before, it was hard for me to get rid of anything) and I’ve never regretted it. At the end of the day, I figure someone else will love the item in question more than I will, and that makes it a lot easier to toss into the donate pile. Here is how I assess each item–if it meets any of these, it goes!

Items you haven’t worn in a year

I know this can be hard, because you might not remember everything you wore last winter, but use your best judgement. It may be easier to ask yourself this, “Can I remember the last time I wore this?” If you can’t, it goes into the donate pile.

Doubles or similar items

This is also where the “get everything out of your closet” tip helps–nobody needs 5 black sweaters, but it’s so easy to accumulate them without even noticing! Keep the one or two you wear the most, and donate the others.

Items that need to be repaired

I don’t know about you, but if I’m hanging onto something because it needs to be “repaired”–I’m never ACTUALLY going to get around to repairing it! Be realistic with yourself, sometimes it’s necessary to come to terms with what needs to go in the trash.

Items you aren’t absolutely head over heels for

My mom always taught me, “if you don’t absolutely LOVE it, don’t buy it” and I’ve become much better about this over the years. But, even if you loved it when you bought it, you might not always feel that way, and it’s okay to let it go! If you’re on the fence about whether or not you “love” it–you don’t!

Items you wouldn’t buy this year

If a certain item was brand new this year and you saw it at your favorite store, would you buy it? If the answer is no, get rid of it! I find that framing it up this way forces me to come to terms with what I will and won’t wear. It’s harder to talk yourself out of something this way!

Get organized:

Assign dedicated spots for every kind of item: It’s been helpful for me to assign specific spots to each category of clothing. Otherwise, when you just fold and place things where they fit, it will be much easier for shelves to get messy, drawers to become a bottomless abyss, and so on. Don’t be afraid to get creative with your storage. Baskets double as storage and decor, and shelf dividers help keep stacks neat and tidy. Which brings me to my next point…

Get creative with storage: Don’t under-estimate even the simple things like shoeboxes and shoebox lids. These can go a long way in keeping your items in check. (I use a shoebox to store my socks and undies in my drawer, it works great!) Also look into furniture that double as storage–we have an IKEA shoe cabinet in our entryway and it holds a bunch of extra shoes and little knick-knacks that would otherwise be lying around the kitchen and living room.

I also recently purchased a separate clothing rack that lives outside of my closet (because my closet is TINY)–I often use it to organize outfits I need to shoot, but lately, I’ve simply been keeping my favorite seasonal basics here, and it has helped IMMENSELY when I need to get dressed each day. It would be great for organizing work outfits, keeping track of capsule wardrobe items, etc. Anything that looks pretty and helps me stay organized is a win-win in my book! I raved about it so much that Kelly got the same one, and also says it has changed her life!

Giving Tuesday: How to Give Back While Cleaning Out Your Closet

Where to donate:

After your closet overhaul, you’ll likely (hopefully?) have tons of items to donate. (Hooray!) The Salvation Army makes it super easy to donate your gently used items. You can schedule a free pickup (yes! They come pick it up for you!) or search for the nearest donation dropbox location right here! (You can also donate new and gently used coats at any Jewel Osco store for the Chicago Bears Coat Drive–last year, they donated more than 22,000 coats for those in need! Coats for women and children are the most needed!)

If you don’t have clothing to donate, but want to help, there are so many ways to get involved, no matter the amount of time or resources you have to donate! You can see a full list of ways to help this holiday season right here.

Think about what a difference we could make if we each took just a small action today! 

I hope this post inspires you to have a wonderful and meaningful Giving Tuesday!

In partnership with the Salvation Army. Thank you for supporting the charities that help give back to our community!

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