C.O.P. Week 1 – A Massive Purge, A Clean House

As I mentioned yesterday, my first week of COPing my house has been hugely successful. (C.O.P. = cleaning, organizing, purging, i.e., my goal for this year). If you’d like to read about the genesis of this C.O.P. goal, you can read about that here.

Not only have I made some major headway in clearing out my house and getting things clean, but I’ve learned a whole lot about myself in the process.

But I know you want to see the results, right? Here is the result of my week one purge…

COP week 1 - eight bags, recycling - 2

Now if you’ll remember, my goal was one black contractor bag each week. Can you see how many are here?

COP week 1 - eight bags, recycling

Eight. That’s eight contractor bags, my friends! EIGHT! And that doesn’t even include the two that I filled while cleaning up the carport area, and that I put on my trash pile out back. So really, there were ten total. But I’ll just count these eight because these actually came from inside my house. And you’ll notice that in addition to those eight bags, I also have a box (about 24″ x 36″) filled with recycling, which is mostly Amazon boxes that I’ve just been tossing into the sunroom with an “I’ll deal with that later” mentality.

So the obvious question here is, “What’s in the bags?

Random stuff, y’all. Just random trash. The first day, as I put my earbuds in my ears and listened to Dana K. White’s audio book Decluttering At The Speed Of Life, I was so encouraged and energized just to see some progress and get rid of stuff that I didn’t even keep to one room. I would pick something up in one room to return it to another room, and if I saw trash while I was in that second room, I’d pick it up and put it in the bag. If I spent 10 minutes in that second room picking up and purging, I’d just go with it, not concerning myself with getting back to the original room I had been working on. For the first full day, I just went with the flow in this same way. I figured that as long as I was making progress, it didn’t matter what room I was working in.

I threw away soooo much stuff that I had been holding on to because I felt guilty throwing it out. But the more I listened to that audio book, the more freedom I felt to just get rid of things with zero guilt. It’s almost like I needed a voice in my head to give me permission to just go ahead and send this stuff to the landfill — something I had felt guilty about before. But as Dana put it (and this is a paraphrase), yes, it’s disappointing to see so much stuff being sent to the landfill. But let this be a wake up call. Allow yourself the freedom to do it this time, to get rid of as much as you need to, and to send as much to the landfill as you need to (depending on your city’s rules, of course), in order to clear out your house. But then vow to yourself (and your house, and the landfill) that you won’t ever let this happen again. Promise yourself (and your house, and the landfill) that from here on out, you’ll be more mindful of the things that you bring into your house. That gave me so much freedom, and I went for it.

That almost-full box of cat litter that I bought because the store was out of the brand I usually use, but the smell of this new one made me gag so I couldn’t even use it? I had felt guilty throwing it out before, so it just sat there. But now? No more guilt. I learned my lesson (i.e., never buy that brand again), and I tossed that big, heavy box into the garbage bag.

I didn’t keep a record, but there were so many things like this — things that I had felt guilt over throwing away, so I kept them even though they did me no good, and even though they were cluttering up my house.

Nothing that I threw away was significant in any way. Some of it was legitimately trash — the packaging from our new down comforter that had been sitting on the floor for a month, a pile of used sandpaper discs that had been neatly stacked and shoved into a corner, and on, and on.

This was so eye-opening to me. Those things, on their own, and strewn around my house, simply didn’t seem like much at all. And yet, gathered into one place and put into bags, they filled up five or six contractor bags!! I mean, was I living in some sort of Grey Gardens situation here that I had just become used to and could no longer see?! 😀 (For the record, I don’t think I had quite reached a Grey Gardens situation, but my house was definitely out of control.)

I also tackled the massive pile of dirty clothes in the sunroom. My initial plan was to finally get everything washed. But as I went through it, I realized that about half of it was clothes that I had used as work clothes, covered with paint, caulk, wood glue, etc. And most of those were sizes that don’t fit me anymore. So rather than waste time washing that massive pile, I first sorted through and got rid of all paint-covered clothing that no longer fits. I’m pretty sure that category alone filled up two, if not three, contractor bags.

So all of that added up to eight contractor bags worth of stuff that is now out of my house. (Our garbage truck comes on Mondays, so I’ll have to look at it for a couple more days.)

Now if you’ll remember, my original plan was also to tackle unpacking and purging one box per week, and I did get that done as well. But let me tell you about this box.

COP week 1 - box in kitchen

This box is one that I came across either in the sunroom or one of the bedrooms (a.k.a., previous storage rooms) about three months ago. It was evidently packed very quickly (probably a last minute thing at the condo) because things were just haphazardly thrown in. So three months ago, when I saw that it was kitchen stuff, I sat it in the kitchen floor to remind myself to go through it.

But did I do that? Of course not! Rather than tackling it immediately, I let it sit there because, “I just don’t have time right now, so I’ll do it later.” But later never came, so that box eventually became a fixture in my kitchen that I got used to seeing and working around. When I’d need to use the kitchen, I’d shove the box into the music room with my foot. When I needed it out of the way in the music room, I’d kick it back over into the kitchen. And so this went on for three months. This box, and this process, just became a part of normal life for me for three months, and I never once thought there was anything unusual or strange about it.

Until I listened to Dana’s book.

It suddenly became clear to me that this is not normal. This clutter had become a permanent fixture in my house and in my daily routine that I was used to, but it shouldn’t be there.

So are you ready to see what was in this box that became a fixture in my kitchen and part of my daily routine for three months? Here it is. In the bag, there were five pairs of rubber gloves and half a box of Brillo pads. And FYI, the purple gloves were so tiny that I couldn’t even get my hands into them. Why did I even have these?!

The rest of the box contained an assortment of mostly junk. I mean, what the heck?!

So after sorting through it, this was everything I kept…

Three pieces that go to my food processor, an apple slicer, an egg slicer, a meat fork, a roll of contractor bags, Brillo pads, one pair of rubber gloves, hair cutting scissors, utility scissors, two steak knives, tongs, and a jar opener. Even some of these things might be tossed once I start purging individual drawers, but for now, these items can stay.

What was left?

Four pairs of rubber gloves that didn’t even fit my hands, random jars and lids, a measuring cup that belongs to a set that has been long gone, a pamphlet with direction on how to use my mandoline (really?), a lid to a cup I haven’t seen in years, and on, and on.

Talk about a wake up call. This is the stuff that has been a fixture in my life for the past three months. This is the stuff that has been in my kitchen floor, necessitating me kicking it from one room to another to make room. And almost all of it was actual junk. Not only that, but it took me all of five minutes to go through it. *Sigh*

So that’s a pretty good start to my year of C.O.P.ing, right? Eight contractor bags, one big box of recycling, and one box purged. But wait! There’s more! 😀

I also did my final furniture purge this week (along with a few smaller items)! I dug out the rest of the furniture that I wanted gone from my house, and put it all in the guest bedroom. This was a very strategic move. The guest bedroom is the first area I want to work on (building closets), and with all of this extra furniture in the way, there was no way I could work in there. I knew that would force me to call The Salvation Army immediately, rather than waiting three or four months, to come pick up this stuff.

Here’s everything I gathered up for them to take…

A chest of drawers, three lamp shades, a loveseat, an area rug, a recliner, a decorative mirror, about 20 wall frames, three wheelchairs, a table lamp, a cat scratch/lounge tower, a vacuum cleaner, a side table, a large dresser, a TV, a serger sewing machine, an ottoman, another dresser, and a walker.

And as of Thursday afternoon, all of this is gone!!! GONE!! Out of my house!!

Side note: I do apologize to those of you who said you wanted certain things. I had about five people who wanted the ottoman, and another five who wanted that green credenza. At least two wanted the green dresser. For my own mental well-being, I just needed this stuff gone all at once. And when five people want the same thing, how do I even choose? But y’all know where it is!! They picked it up Thursday, so call today!! I believe there’s only one Salvation Army Family Thrift Store in Waco.

And if the ottoman is already gone, remember that I have a very detailed tutorial for how to make your own. And wouldn’t that be better? Rather than taking one that fit my particular needs at the time, you can make one that’s the exact size and color you need! As far as the green credenza, just look for drawers that are curved on front, and you’ll almost certainly find that striped wood effect under the veneer.

Anyway, y’all, this week was so amazing, and I literally feel lighter, like a weight has been lifted. Having an uncluttered house is such a freeing feeling. And that’s no exaggeration. I truly do believe that the condition of our homes has a HUGE impact on our mental well-being, our general outlook on life, and obviously, the quality of our lives inside our homes.

But my amazing week doesn’t stop there. After listening to Dana’s decluttering book, I wanted more. So I purchased and listened to her other book, How to Manage Your Home Without Losing Your Mind. There was a lot in the second half of this book that had already been in the decluttering book, but I was still glad I listened to it. The focus of the first half was about developing habits that help you keep your house clean. And obviously, that’s something I need. 😀

So after getting my entryway, living room, kitchen, and music room super clean last weekend (and after my mom cleaned my hallway bathroom for me — so sweet!!), I was determined to do my best to begin developing some habits to keep those areas clean.

And y’all, I am here to tell you that my kitchen has stayed spotless all week long!! This is a major victory for me!! (FYI, the other areas stayed clean as well, but since they don’t get nearly the use and abuse that a kitchen does, that feels a bit less exciting, but still very good.)

As with so many other things, doing the dishes and keeping my kitchen clean on a daily basis felt like such a huge burden and time suck. I mean, I’m a busy person! I have pressing things I need to get done! I have projects that need my attention! I don’t have time for washing dishes and wiping countertops!! Because, I mean, that stuff takes…what? Three hours a day? There’s no way I can take that much time out of my schedule each day to do it!

Well, guess what. As it turns out, if your kitchen is already clean, and all you have to clean is the mess from the meal you just ate, it actually doesn’t take three hours. 😀 It takes more like ten minutes. Minutes.

This was a major light bulb moment for me. So this entire week, I’ve done just that. As soon as we’re finished with a meal, I wash the dishes and wipe down the countertops. And then every night right before bed, I spend about 5-10 minutes using my new cordless vacuum (this is the one I bought) to vacuum the floors, and my house has stayed so clean for an entire week!

And what a difference it makes waking up to a clean house!! What a difference it makes walking into a clean kitchen (with all clean dishes and cookware) to cook a meal!

To say that this week has been life-altering is not hyperbole. I’m far from done with the C.O.P.ing of my house, but I’m on a roll, y’all! And as amazing as I feel after just one week, there’s no way I’m going to stop now.

And I really have Dana K. White and her book to thank (and of course, those of you who recommended it to me). This woman spoke to me in a way in which I could relate 100%. As she described herself, it was like she was describing me. And her book has lit a fire under me that I don’t think will ever go out.

Again, if you want to check out this book that has made such a significant impact on me, you can find it here

And if you want to check out her other book about developing habits for keeping a clean house, you can find that here

Again, the second half of that book repeats a lot of info that’s in the decluttering book, but I still found it very helpful and encouraging. But if you can only get one, and you’re a clutterbug and pack rat like me, then get the decluttering book.

And now, on to week two of C.O.P. I don’t expect this second week, or any hereafter, to be quite as dramatic as the first because from here on out, I’ll be spending the bulk of my time working on projects from my 2020 House Goals list rather than COPing my house. I do plan to make slow and steady progress from now on, and this first week was just the amazing, encouraging start to the year that I needed.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


  1. Great progress Kristi! Anyone who’s been coveting Kristie’s past projects (that padded ottoman, the green chest, etc ) better run to the Waco Salvation Army store pronto!

  2. I started listening to Dana after you mentioned her book. She is so funny and insightful. I can certainly see how she would inspire you and help anyone who needs a different process to use that matches with their way of thinking about decluttering. Best wishes for many more successful weeks.

    1. Love everything about this…definitely adding this book to my reading list. There was a tip I read once and that was if you have a pile, pull out only what you want to keep and then sweep the rest gone… so many times I was focusing on what to do with the stuff I didn’t really want (toss? Sell? Donate? Someone wants it? Could I maybe use it?) that I got lost before I even started. Changing the focus, was life changing for me! Can’t wait to see progress!

    2. Yeah, I felt inspired to get her book from the library and I’d be curious to see what she says about managing a home. I do keep the kitchen clean but it’s the kids areas i need inspiration for!

      I listened to some of the podcast too. Handy.

  3. Yeah for de-cluttering! So fun to see your progress! You have actually discovered Feng Shui-living in harmony with your possessions 🙂 I’ve been studying it since 1999, and the more I learn about it the more it makes sense to live within the principles of it-no clutter, a good set of goals/vision board, and careful considerations of the placements of all five elements( fire, earth, metal, water, wood). Enjoy the amazing feeling you will have when your home rises up to greet you.

    Unlike you, I am a natural-born organizer. I drove my family crazy with the need to have everything “just so” in my Mom’s house, LOL. When I retire from teaching I am going to do it professionally!

  4. I post stuff no Freecycle. No matter how big or small, insignificant or monumental, someone (usually many someones) is happy to receive it and take it away. Keeps the stuff out of the landfill, and provides a good home for unneeded items. I’ve seen everything from major furniture pieces to pet food to tools to kitchen items listed,and everything seems to be gone in a day or two.

    1. I was going to suggest the same thing! I know it takes a little more time but you can just make one listing with all the items, highlighting the significant or more valuable stuff. Keeps it out of the landfill. On the other hand Kristi has bought and giving new life to many used pieces of furniture that would otherwise end up in landfill so a little give and take.

      1. I wanted to add-amazing job! You should feel very proud of yourself. Cleaning and decluttering for me is never fun and you tackled it head-on! Well done!

    2. I was going to suggest Freecylce as well, or even Craiglist. It’s amazing what people will take, I’m sure someone would’ve snapped up that cat litter for example. Knowing that something will get used makes it even easier to get rid of. I also use it to ask for things and it usually comes through. For example I need a small bit of fake grass for a school project and someone offered me some right away.

  5. I got both of these books and have been listening to them since you posted them. I also told my daughter to get them. So many light bulb moments! I too have kept my kitchen clean, which is HUGE! It feels so good. I am going to listen to the decluttering one after the other, because I struggle more with the day to day, and want to not stand on the front porch talking to people when they pop on by because my house is a mess. Thank you for sharing!

  6. Maybe now is the time to reconsider a dishwasher? Put dishes in and wipe the counters. Easy peasy. Run and empty dishwasher as needed. I couldn’t live without mine! So nice to “hide” dirty dishes and move on with my day….

    1. I agree! My MIL used to say that putting dishes in a dishwasher was “undone work.” She didn’t understand that properly loading, running, unloading and maintaining the appliance IS the work. And it beats hand washing in time spent and water and energy used!

  7. Such a great post.. I’m a terrible hoarder, have unhealthy attachments to “things.” So bad that seeing the stuff you were trashing actually made me nervous. Sigh. 😢. Keep it up and maybe I’ll eventually follow. My husband hoards even more than I. Can you imagine the chaos of getting our home of 37 years ready to market?

    1. You aren’t alone! My grandparents are in their 80’s and their health no longer allows them to live independently, so they have moved out of their home. They have a 5-bedroom home full of stuff from floor to ceiling in many rooms. The entire family is overwhelmed with it all. Thirty-seven years is a long time, but at least you didn’t hit 60 yet. 🙂 There’s no shame in reaching out for help to multiple people you trust to get it all done. Having a desire to keep things and feeling guilty for wasting or letting go of something is in my genes and was engrained in me my entire childhood. I’m excited to listen to these books that Kristi recommends. Best of luck to you, too!

  8. Several months ago I adopted a cat that had been declawed on all four feet. He “told” me our cat litter hurt so I tried one brand, then another. Finally we hit on one that was acceptable to him. So what did I do with the nearly full containers of litter that didn’t work? Just sitting in the garage, in the way. Thanks for your testimonial, Kristi. It’s out of here now.

    1. If you are a DIYer, cat litter is awesome at drying out the last bit of paint in the bottom of cans. In my town, we have to dry out the old paint before we can throw out the cans, so I buy a lot of cat litter for someone who doesn’t even have a cat!

  9. Thank you! I needed to hear your success story. I’m drowning in perfectly cute stuff as well as boxes like your kitchen one everywhere. It’s too much and I am downloading the first book today and doing it!

    Lori Davidson – I met you at Home Depot talking about paint sprayers.

  10. I’m proud of you. What a great accomplishment with all that you do. I used to covet magazine rooms and compare to mine. I read that no one really lives in those rooms. They are set up for a shoot. Now you can really use and love those beautiful spaces.

  11. If you have stuff that’s in working condition but too random for the Salvation Army to take, I’ve had great luck giving things away free on Facebook Marketplace. I generally just leave the item out on my porch and someone picks it up, so I don’t even have to coordinate the timing for a handoff. (Or awkwardly meet a stranger, LOL.) Just an idea!

  12. You did great and should be so proud of yourself for making so much progress so early on in the new year 🙂 One tip that you might find helpful in the future is that if you ever pick up the wrong kind of cat littler again. instead of chucking it in the landfill I am sure that any nearby cat rescue or animal shelter could use it. Have a wonderful weekend and enjoy your clean house!

  13. You must have a decent readership in my area. My local library system (which includes many different libraries) has the audio book version with a 12-person waiting list! I don’t think that is coincidence. I have signed up to get the next available paper book version, though. 😀

    1. First thing I noticed too Brenda! Then I realized I never use mine. the egg comes with a perfectly good separator . . . the shell! First to go in my next purge!

  14. I am enjoying listening to the book while I pack away my many Christmas ornaments yesterday (We leave our tree and decorations up until Epiphany, Twelfth Night). I am about an hour and a half in.

    I love her suggestion to declutter what you – and your guests! – will see first, then move on to the stuff you have squirreled away.

    The other concept that really hit home with me is her category of “precrasticlutter.” For me, it’s the clean, dry dishes in the dish drainer, the basket full of clean, unfolded clothes, and putting away the ironing board from our bedroom after I am done ironing, because I really will not be getting back to it later that day. A wonderful book, full of great insights. So, thank you!

    A word about recycling, donating, and giving away unwanted items. Please, all of us, don’t throw away stuff that can be recycled. Each municipality has different levels of what is acceptable for recycling, so please pay attention to those, and then do the right thing. I am not saying store it in your house and reclutter it as a result, just learn the rules and do it right the first time. It feels better to not send usable stuff or recyclable stuff to the dump, and our children and children’s children will be glad of it in the future.

  15. I also got the Decluttering audiobook. OMG, thank you for the recommendation! I’ve been listening to it and purging this week too, it makes SO much sense for how I hold onto things!!

  16. One last suggestion: For pet stuff, like unused litter, carpet scratchers, cans or bags of pet food, consider donating it to your local animal shelter. Wouldn’t you rather see that stuff benefit those poor shelter animals than just toss it?

    I did this after our beloved cat died, and the staff and volunteers of our local shelter were so grateful!

    And if you don’t have the time to drop it off at the shelter, call them. They might be able to have a volunteer come over to your house to pick the stuff up.

    1. Our Humane Society also loves to receive worn linens for the animals. They are my first stop with threadbare towels and flat pillows.

  17. Kristi, I almost had a heart attack when I saw you getting rid of the serger . . . said the woman who has 3 different ones! LOL I can’t wait until my audio CD gets here!

  18. With lots of kids and pets living in 2000 square feet, we don’t have the luxury of have empty boxes lying around. It’s gotta go, or it’ll definitely be in the way! I’m going to try to always live in a house that is “too small”. Not having the space for clutter prevents it from coming in at all. Glad you’re getting started on your purge!

  19. I’m thrilled that you experienced the liberation of de-cluttering. How fun! We all have things/chores that we try to ignore. I’ve found that doing the chore and timing myself is a good slap in the face. Most of them take so little time that it’s embarrassing to say I don’t have time to do that!

  20. Great Job Kristi,

    Keep up the good work. I am also decluttering this year. Each day of the calendar I have to get rid of that number of items big or small. I am on day 11 working on items today. Clutter can be as large as furniture or as small as cell phone charger cords or the million of pens I get from everywhere. This will be a very interesting end of year for you to see how your clutter project and your remodel projects go. I know I am getting excited for you. I also going to read Dana’s declutter book thanks for the recommendation.

  21. Such a satisfying post!

    If you think about it, everything eventually is going to end up in some landfill somewhere. It’s a question of whether you do it yourself or saddle someone else with it.

    1. Well, that’s true. 😀 The reason I stopped donating to Goodwill here is because they leave so much stuff outside in the weather (rain or shine) and I’m sure by the time they get to a lot of it, it’s destroyed. So they just toss it in the dumpster. What’s the point? I can throw it away just like they can, and save myself the hassle of loading it in the car and driving it to the drop off center. I started donating to The Salvation Army instead because I think they (at least here locally) take better care of the stuff that’s donated, so less of it (hopefully none of it) ends up in dumpsters.

    1. Probably – but NO going through the trash now, fishing it out and putting it to the side until you get a chance to take it there!! Because how often do you go to the animal shelter? And then you would just trip over it for another 8 months!! The point is to get it out of the house!!
      And she did!!

  22. I LOVE Dana K. White! Don’t remember exactly how I stumbled onto her website. She’s so funny and positive. It’s true that we hold onto stuff out of guilt. Congratulations on this fabulous first week of your great de-cluttering project.

  23. I feel so inspired and free from clutter and I haven’t even read the book yet or thrown a single thing away! I can’t wait to actually start. Thank you for sharing this information on your blog. As you can see, I’m sure many people have benefited.

  24. Kristi, I am so happy for you, and for the rest of us too! I also purchased the book you recommended, but watched Dana on-line too. Wow – this will be liberating. I said that this will set you free, and I can hear it in your words already! I agree with you though – saving some for here and there won’t work well this time. JUST DO IT, and in the future perhaps there is more time to donate more stuff – a little at a time. For now, it is best to just move it on out the door. Congratulations, and keep up the great work.

  25. Yipee, yipee ,yipee! So proud and happy of and for you . I think this will help how both you and Matt will feel about your home and how much more you will enjoy your time there

  26. I’m so glad your purge is going well. Keep up the momentum!!

    Also, I think saw this posted above but your local shelter will take open bags of cat litter. Not just cat litter but cat & dog food, treats, toys, etc. Whenever I buy my dog a new type of food or treat she doesn’t like, I drop the bag off at the local shelter on my way to work. I’ll also drop off any toys that my dog doesn’t play with (she has a short attention span). Another thing the shelter is always in need of is old blankets, sheets and t-shirts.

    1. And towels, they always need them, too. Sweaters and sweat shirts and pants are good for beds for shelter animals too.

  27. We have a commercial building in a “not so great” area of town with a residential area behind it. I leave things outside of the dumpster along side the road and things disappear very quickly. I experiment with what people will take. Instead of throwing away a box of old broken tile we removed I left it outside of the dumpster and someone even took that! I’m glad the stuff is staying out of the landfill.

  28. The kitchen box… I’m rolling on the floor, tears streaming down my face… THIS is my life.!! My friends can’t understand how I can walk by boxes or piles of something and not deal with them. They have no idea that the stuff has been there a few months. Kristi, you are my soul sister. Today you made me feel normal. Quirky normal And yes, I’ve put Dana’s book on hold at the library.

    Well done Kristi!

  29. Wow, that’s really great progress! I need to keep going with my POC. It’s slow, but steady. I need to get over my guilt about throwing away a bung of things. That will really help.

  30. Congratulations, bravo, stupendous!!!!

    Add this to cat ownership tidbits….. I had pals that lost beloved cats to blocked intestines from clay litters, etc. The journey to avoid this led me to a breeder or vet blog recommending the use of Dumor Poultry Crumble. Yes, chicken feed. The World’s Best Cat Litter is dried corn, basically identical to DPC. It’s very absorbent, NOT a chemical or clay substance to get in the cat’s system when they groom myself, costs $13-14 for a 40 lb bag so way cheaper and biodegrades once you toss. Because I live in the country side I actually toss it in the woods for the pheasants to enjoy the clean stuff. Has worked beautifully for 20 years. I get it at local Tractor Supply store. I’m sure I’ve saved a lot of $ on litter but probably have a healthier cat and I happen to be one of those persons that finds scents offensive. To avoid the headaches I use unscented everything.

  31. The first R is not “reuse.” It’s “refuse.” The secret to not living in clutter is to refuse to allow the “thing” into your life in the first place. I am part of. Decluttering group on FB. We each have a two sided piece of paper that in total has 2020 (for this year) empty squares on it. The goal is to color in all the squares. You color one each time you declutter something. I do it with a twist. Every time something comes into my house, I add a square to the end of the box. When I fill all the squares, I will have decluttered a NET of 2020 things. Knowing I have to add a square has been extremely effective in keeping myself from acquiring stuff over the past three years.

    After refuse (just say no) is reduce. Instead of buying a book on decluttering, temporarily borrow on from the library. Our library has more than books. We also have a “library of things.” Need a sewing machine but rarely see? Check it out from the library. Doing a once a year yard maintenance? Check out a weed whacked from the library (or cultivate relationships with other people willing to loan you one).

    The third R is reuse. Kristi is already good at that one. Then comes recycling. The reality is that currently in the US, a lot of what people THINK they are recycling is going to the dump. A lot of recycling used to go to China, but they won’t take it anymore, partly because we were so BAD at following the recycling rules and properly separating our waste and partly because we were filling up theirs country with our garbage.

    Lastly is rot. Start a compost pile. Get rid of food waste (40 percent of the food produced in the US goes to waste, eventually breaking down and producing methane, a green house gas). Don’t fool yourself into thinking stuff you toss into your garbage headed for the landfill will decompose. I used to inspect garbage dumps (“landfill” is a sanitized word-/who needs land filled with garbage?). Properly run garbage dumps are lined with plastic and covered daily with soil that is also mined. Eventually, the dump is covered with a clay layer. The result of all this covering is that air and water, both necessary for decomposition are kept out. Your garbage is going to be there a hundred years from now. There is no “away” in throw away.

    So PLEASE stick to your resolution and keep your house clutter free by not allowing stuff into it to begin with as you go forward. And yes, animal shelters and rescue places will take cat litter, pet food, blankets, towels, leashes, collars, toys, etc. some will even take old couches and upholstered furniture. I’ve even donated medicine like heart worm pills to them after a pet has died. Freecycle and no buy Facebook groups are also great ways to keep things out of the garbage dump. Thanks to all those who suggested those.

  32. My mother in law developed depression following a toxic relationship that ended and her house became a hot mess. She spent the summers up north but lived near us in FL the rest of the year so one summer, unbeknownst to her, we cleaned and organized her entire 2 bedroom, 2 bath house. It took the better part of the summer. We emptied it of the trash and useless items (truckloads full and the church took the Carloads of clothes that didn’t fit her for their ministry to less fortunates) then we replaced a couple worn out pieces of furniture, repaired others, put in a few new rugs and pavers on her porch, purchased some storage/organizing items and using her own beautiful things I decorated the whole place. We found enough Christmas gifts she had lost in the house that she didn’t need to do much shopping that year! and gift wrap galore. She was shocked and thrilled when she returned. Her depression lifted permanently and she went on to live out her years happy and content enjoying her many interests, hobbies and friends. Every so often she’d call me to find out where I’d put something, it was very cute.

  33. Kristi — what you said really resonated with me. Your kind of clutter is my kind of clutter. If ANYONE is scheduled to come to my house a cleanibg/shifting frenzy must occur. I am hampered to have an 800 sq ft basement to also store stuff. Once upon a time, many years ago i got rid of pretty much everything i owned and it was so freeing. Unfortunately I’m back at chaos now. I’ve downloaded the book and taking baby steps today to purge some stuff. Hopefully i will be able to continue until my stuff fits my house! Inspired by all you have done. Have been following you since condo days.

  34. I think I have that same WHITE serger from the 80’s! Mine works and I still use it, although when I have to thread the lower loopers, I pray for it to die so I can get a new one! I don’t sew enough to justify buying a new one at this point!!!
    Good job on the decluttering.

  35. Wow! Good for you. I need to get this decluttering book and get started in several areas of our home. Thank you for the recommendation

  36. WOW great job Kristi…!!! When I first saw your pile in that room, I thought to myself, “she’s not just getting rid of all of that stuff.. is she..!!??” Once I read your reasoning I can understand it. To JUST GET RID OF IT…!! I recently moved and bought over stuff that I figured, “Oh I will use that one day or I will make something with that one day.” Now it all sits organized behind the areas that need to be drywalled. Who knows how long they will sit there. It’s to cold up there now or it will be to hot in the summer.. JUST EXCUSES I know. Maybe I need this book too….!!!!

  37. All of these comments of how a shelter could use the litter or to use a free giveaway site are well meaning, but when a person is ready to purge, it’s important to let go ASAP. Even the process of waiting for someone to pick it up for having to take an item for donation can cause them to back peddle. Just something to think about.

  38. I have read this blog for a while, and am honestly disappointed by the post. Not that you are cleaning out stuff you don’t use, but that you are sending so much of it to the dump when the effort to find it a home would be minimal. Most of that clothing if you just washed it could be donated/sold. It could have a new home outside the dump.

    I am sure there are local Animal Shelters that would have gladly taken that open box of litter. I can understand the desire to just want the stuff out. I also have a goal of cleaning out and organizing this year as well, but will be doing it slowly and by category. Clothing will be gone through by season so it is most likely to find a new home, electronics or other items that require speciality recycling will be done at a separate time.

    While you can’t undo what you have already done, I Strongly encourage you to use the momentum you have started building to be more methodical about getting rid of stuff, and finding second lives for it along the way.

    1. I think you missed the part about the clothes I threw away being work clothes that had holes, were threadbare, were covered in caulk, paint, primer, wood glue, etc. No place in Waco would accept things like that.

      And while it is true that I didn’t think about taking the cat litter to the animal shelter, please don’t assume, just because you see eight garbage bags there, that they’re all filled with valuable things that could be used by other people. I’m actually a pretty conscientious person, and I don’t throw things away that can be recycled or used by other people.