Guest Post! Movin’ on up

My friend Christina offered to lend a new voice to Get A Grip.  Her background is in Interior Design, and her current status as a bona fide New Yorker give her serious space management cred.

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Hi.  I’m Christina, and I’m a fan of the folks over at Get A Grip.  You know, there are days when I read the blog and see the Huddle Up and I say “Amen, sister!” and there are others when I learn something new.   I’m big on organization over here too, even though we’re kind of messy. Messy, but hey, I know where pretty much everything is.  To be honest, my organization happens mostly behind closed doors.  Our closets and drawers are freakishly neat. Most of the time.

So why am I here? A little bit of a different perspective, some of my own organization tips, and most of it in the context of moving.  You see, we over here are “movin’ on up”.  We, my little family of 3 and a dog, are living in New York City (East Coast, represent!) and while we aren’t moving to the East Side, we are moving “up” – 10 blocks north, to be precise, and we are doubling our space.  This move will happen in about 3 months, and in the meantime we are trying to sell our current home and I am obsessively planning everything ahead for the new place.  The Get A Grip folks and I thought that sharing the experience with you, the lovely readers, might be worthwhile.  They help you get your life organized, and maybe, just maybe, I can help with ideas to get your stuff organized.  So let’s humor each other a bit, why don’t we?

Binge & Purge. Clothing, that is.

A couple of weeks ago I bought a new dress.  A really cute one too.  I needed to hang it up, and when I stepped into my closet I realized that not only were my dresses crammed into the dress section, but some were forced to share hangers.  Quel horror!  So the dress stayed folded in the shopping bag, which sat on the floor of my closet.  This is never good.  I mean, why would a new dress want to be hidden from view?  It should be out there, looking at me, saying “wear me!”, and not in seclusion waiting to be forgotten.

So then one fine rainy Saturday, I found it: my Motivation.  The voice inside my head was screaming at me to go clean out the closet.  And I listened.  And once I was done I had a big pile of stuff that I wasn’t going to keep.  And herein lies the problem: what to do with it all.  Sure, Goodwill comes to mind, but that’s too easy, and let’s be honest, not always the right place for everything.  Why don’t we discuss our options here, of where to send those old friends of yours who you are sending out into the world.

Resale/Consignment

I have some stuff that is on the ‘nicer’ end of the spectrum, clothes that maybe I can make some money back on.  It’s not like I’m running around in Chanel over here (I wish), but there are some “ready to wear” brands that you’d find in the fancier sections of your local department store.  One never knows – they might be worth something and don’t I owe it to myself to find out?

One thing I have learned is that there are resale and consignment shops for every level and price range of clothes.  Even if you can make just one dollar on something, isn’t that better than nothing?  It might seem like a chore, hauling your stuff to the shop on the off chance they will want your stuff, but you know what? Just do it.  You may have a local shop where you can do this, or you can find a shop that is part of a larger chain, such as Plato’s Closet (for your clothes-horse teen) or Second Time Around (for your fancy department store stuff).

Charity shops

Goodwill and the Salvation Army are the biggies here, but you might also look at donating your non-resalable clothing to a local church or other charitable organization.  Here in NYC my preferred donation location of choice is Housing Works, which provides services, advocacy, and housing for those in the community suffering from AIDS.  The shops don’t just accept and sell clothing – they take books and some furnishings as well. (I bought our AMAZING Danish modern dining set there for a relative steal).   Bottom line, if your can’t get money back from your clothes at a resale shop, you may as well send it out into the world to do good for someone else.

Recycling

I read a shocking statistic that, at least here in New York, textiles make up almost 6% of landfill waste.  SIX PERCENT! And as much as we like to tell ourselves that the stuff we throw out is biodegradable (or whatever) the truth is that once something is part of the landfill and is buried under other Stuff and deprived of light and air, well, it’s just not going to break down and become on with the earth.  It’s just not.

Here in NYC we are lucky to have textile recycling available to us, and I can drop off stuff at any number of local farmer’s markets.  What would you recycle?  Anything you might not know what to do with that you might be sneaking into your Goodwill bag with the hopes that they will figure it out.  “Who me?”, you say. Yeah you, you know what I’m talking about.  The t-shirt with a hole in it, or the duvet cover that has ripped at the seams, or the favorite pyjama pants that you split the seat on thus rendering them unwearable, even in the privacy of your own home.  The damaged stuff that still has large areas of good useable fabric, that’s the stuff I’m talking about.

If you can find local textile recycling, then this is an awesome option.  The sad truth is that I have seen torn-open garbage bags on the sidewalk outside of some charity shops filled with clothing that they didn’t deem acceptable.  You think you are asking them to deal with it so you don’t have to, and they’re just throwing it in the trash anyways. This bums me out.

Other things for the more ambitious 

I can’t exactly throw up a sign and have a garage sale here on the island of Manhattan.  Sure, people have “Stoop Sales” or hold sales in their apartments, but I just don’t think that would fly in my co-op building.   But you suburbanites out there, this might be a great option for you.  From what I gather, yard sales can be a lot of work, but if you’re up for it, then go for it.    There’s ebay too, though I’m not sure how effective this is for grown-up clothes.  For kid stuff I hear it’s great – put your child’s outgrown clothes up for sale in groups, rather than as individual pieces.  Or host a clothing swap!  Among my friends we have little kids of all ages and will sometimes host a swap – set up tables by size, toss your used clothes in the pile, and pick up some new stuff in the sizes you need.  Combine this with brunch and a playdate and you’ve got a fun and productive Saturday morning!

It’s a lot of information, and maybe the thought of multiple piles of stuff going to different places overwhelms you, but it’s easier than it looks.  So go purge that closet and make room for some great new stuff!

You know, I’ve never figured out what is the best way to get rid of old undies.  If you figure that one out, please let me know.

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