This article was originally published in Teton Valley News on April 4th, 2013. It is reposted with permission.
For the past year, I have entreated readers of this column to Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. With spring weather coming out in full force, the impending doom of spring cleaning is getting harder to ignore. In the past year I have had the double whammy of both combining households and helping my parents move from the home they owned for over 30 years. My rallying cry of RRR quickly changed to SOS as I found myself buried beneath a pile of stuff. This spring, I plan to Sell, Swap, and Salvage my way to a simpler life.
The first step is sorting out things that have enough value to sell. Donating to thrift stores and charities is great, but it can be hard to part with items that were expensive to purchase, even if you no longer use them. Victor Outdoor Seconds consigns lightly used sporting gear, and All Things Bright and Beautiful in Driggs accepts finer clothing, furniture and other goods for consignment. The Jackson Hole Book Trader buys used books. Other items can be sold online at Craigslist.com or EBay, or at a yard sale.
Swapping is another great way to gain something back for your old goods, particularly for items with sentimental value. It’s easier to watch a friend wear that sweater you shrunk than to wonder if anyone ever bought it from the thrift store, and passing on good books to friends allows you to discuss them later. Is your closet full of clothes you have grown tired of wearing but won’t get rid of because they still fit? Why not go shopping in your friends’ closets? Host a SWAP to exchange clothes, books, or other items. It’s a great way to socialize, get rid of stuff, and give your wardrobe or bookshelf a facelift all at the same time. Leftover clothes can be donated to See N’ Save, and books can be donated to the Valley of the Tetons Library. Internet sites like swap.com, swapstyle.com, rehashclothes.com, and bookmooch.com enable strangers to swap clothing, books, movies, music, and children’s items online. Last year I swapped my unwanted items online for a pashmina shawl from a New Yorker and a designer handbag a stranger in Seattle.
Finally, figure out what can be salvaged. Freecycle.com, the mother of all garage sales, is an online site that can connect your trash with someone else’s need. Other items can be upcycled. Old trophies can be made into funky new ones for special events, corks make great bulletin boards, and pallets are useful for almost anything. My old t-shirts with sentimental value will become a quilt, while the fabric scraps will stuff a door snake to prevent drafts next winter. Almost any kind of waste can be converted into a TRASHION outfit for the annual Trash Bash in June.
Reducing, reusing, and recycling are great, but cleaning out stuff you already own requires a different strategy. Selling, swapping and salvaging can help simplify your life by reducing clutter without sending it to the landfill. After you’ve worked your way through all of those cardboard boxes in storage, you can finally get around to recycling them!
Nowadays, cars are becoming more and more sophisticated, making our lives easier but at the same time complicated as well.