While returning our Christmas decorations to their storage place under the bed Bird and I decided it was also time to sort through everything else under our bed and in our closets. After living in New York a full year through all four seasons we were easily able to reevaluate what clothes/shoes/accessories we no longer wanted. During this exercise we also took mental notes to help make better purchasing decisions in the future.
But cleaning out a closet doesn't end in a simple trip to Goodwill.
First I separate items I want to give to specific people. Last week I gifted a necklace to a coworker as both an engagement and farewell gift, she wore it for the next 4 days and other coworkers were coming to me praising my fine taste in picking out presents. Last summer I held onto two cashmere scarves to give to a 705er for her birthday and I also gave a bag of scrapbooking materials to another friend to use. Free gifts save money and in my experience the recipients have always been more touched that I saw and saved something for them than have been weirded out that it's a hand-me-down.
Then I separate what I think I can sell on either Craigstlist or eBay. This past week it took us less than 24 hours to sell a Belgium-made dog crate on Craigslist for $65 that we originally purchased from a neighbor for $40. In 7 days we made over $150 on eBay selling a pair of 7FAM jeans, a cashmere sweater, and a Patagonia fleece vest. It takes a few minutes to take some pictures and fill in some details but it's a great way to make money and recycle items.
After selling items I separate out what I think someone would actually purchase from a consignment or thrift store. I personally save money on name brand items (Michael Kors, Coach, Dooney and Bourke) by purchasing secondhand through eBay, consignment stores, and Goodwill. When donating to consignment/thrift stores I think, "Would I buy this?" If not, I don't donate the item. What I mean by this is... do you think someone really wants to purchase your adult cotton t-shirts you receive free at charity events? I feel these items take employees longer to sort through and never sell, making no money for the company. When donating a bag of items, always remember to get your Charitable Tax Deduction form! Unfortunately Goodwill makes you go to their website to value your items yourself but last year when we moved to New York I took two large bags of Bird's suits, shirts, and belts to the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center Thrift Shop and they mailed me a completed donation slip valuing the donation for over $300. I'm recycling clothing while receiving a tax deduction.
With whatever clothing items are left I have two options: H&M and my local NYC GreenMarket.
There is an H&M in my office building and I keep two or three pieces of unwanted clothing in a drawer for whenever I feel like browsing H&M. You can read this Bloomberg article for more details but in a nutshell when I donate clothing items to H&M I receive a 15% off coupon available to use during that shopping trip. I just saved 15% on my choice of any full priced item! They actually let me choose to use it on the most expensive item of that trip if I have more than one item which is also nice. H&M then resells the clothing and then recycles what can't be sold. From the Bloomberg article:
My other last-ditch option is every Saturday morning I walk Mr. Duke to our local GrowNYC Greenmarket to throw our weekly vegetable/tea/coffee/grains scraps into a large bin to be composted for use throughout NYC parks and neighborhood gardens. They also recycle clothing. Click to see GrowNYC Greenmarket's Clothing Recycling page. From their website:
What happens to materials donated?
Textiles are sorted into different grades including usable clothing, cotton scrap, cotton blend scrap and synthetics. These commodities are then sold for reuse as clothing, linens, etc or to recycling markets that turn materials into wiping rags, fiber for car door panels and insulation.
I know it seems like a lot but I honestly feel better about taking my time and being more conscious about what ends up happening with my 'trash.' One man's trash is another man's treasure. Not only do I get rid of unwanted excess and clutter in my life, I've taught myself better purchasing habits for the future by evaluating what I'm getting rid of and what is missing from my closest while also creating income to use towards future purchases.
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