Your house might be tidy but now you’re surrounded by garbage bags full of all of your KonMarie’d shit. What do you do? Emily Writes looks for answers.
My house was as messy as my life is – which is to say very messy. But then I discovered Marie Kondo. I am now a convert, a KONvert if you will (yeah I did that). I’ve spent so much time folding the last few days that I have RSI in my forearms and even while I lay in bed at 3am awake, I’m thinking about cleaning.
I was savage, a machine. I was repulsed by how much stuff I had and I was keen to give it away so that someone would appreciate it – because I sure as shit wasn’t appreciating it. Going through everything and actually having gratitude for the things that “spark joy” has had quite a profound impact on me. I’ve worked hard for what I have, and didn’t always have a lot; going through this process has reminded me not to take for granted the things I have. My clothes might all be from K-Mart and The Warehouse or secondhand treasures and clothing swap steals – but they’re mine, and I love them. They definitely spark a shitload of joy. And now I’m making sure I take care of them and treat them with respect.
It also means I’m finally donating all of the kids clothes I have that my little ones have outgrown. I’ve kept them all because I think I secretly hoped one day I’d get my shit together and have a third baby. But it turns out I’m less of an idiot than I thought I was and I’m not going to have a third baby because I would not cope with a third baby. So, it is time to get rid of the kids’ clothes.
That combined with all of my maternity clothes (some of which I’ll admit I was still wearing three years after being pregnant) and my maternity bras (fuck me they’re comfortable, that’s why I was wearing them until last week even though I haven’t breastfed in two years) means I now have bags and bags of items to donate.
I went into my local Salvation Army store only to be told that every other motherfucker is KonMarie’ing the shit out of their house so they were full. I called Opportunity for Animals and found they had space though not much. It got me thinking about how busy this time will be for volunteers. I’ve been a clothes sorter for an op shop and it’s a nightmare. People give garbage – like why would you give one shoe? Why would you give a blanket with BLOOD stains on it? Why would you give trackies that are so worn they have no crotch anymore? Nobody wants a bag full of socks that have no match. Nobody wants your shoes that you wore so much they fell apart. Absolutely nobody wants your undies with rag stains on them.
So I thought I’d ask stores what they do want. They all universally agreed they were busy as all hell (the Christian stores didn’t say hell just FYI I’m paraphrasing). So with that in mind, here’s the advice for donating items from each store.
Opportunity for Animals
January is always extremely busy for us with donations, children moving to university, house moving season, unwanted Christmas items and general clean outs. We so appreciate laundered items – just recently I sorted a vomited-on duvet and two supermarket bags of vomited-on clothes. They don’t have to be folded but clean (meaning no stains of blood, food, mould, faeces) no holes, shoes clean and tidy… It’s a simple rule: if you wouldn’t purchase it yourself in that condition then we really can’t sell it.
January is busy time for us as people look to make a fresh start for the New Year. We find a lot of people like to know that they’re doing some good, helping people in their community, when they’re cleaning house and we’re really grateful for the generosity that New Zealanders show us at this time of year.
We’re happy to take all donations, though we don’t always have the ability to clean and repair things, so it is helpful for our staff if people don’t donate things that are broken or damaged. The funds we make from selling items in our stores go straight back to helping people in need in that community so the more stuff that’s in a condition that we can sell the more people we can help. It’s also helpful if people make sure sharp or breakable things are packed safely so our staff don’t get hurt unpacking things. We’re happy to come to people’s houses and pick things up to help make that process easier for people.
St Vincent De Paul
Here are a few pointers on donating clothes to an op shop:
- still in wearable condition
- no holes
- no stains
- dropped off directly to the shop within opening hours (never leave donations outside shops when closed).
When going through clothing (or any goods) to donate to an op shop, ask yourself – would you give it to your friend? If the answer is no, then it’s best to leave it out of the donate pile.
Mary Potter Hospice
January is a busy time for our eight retail stores. Lots of people seem to do a clean out over the Christmas break, plus we get the odd unwanted Christmas gift donated to us also.
Our shops are really pleased to accepted unwanted household goods, books, jewellery, and furniture, as well as clothing. The clothing should be clean and in season. Folded items are fine.
We don’t want items that are stained or damaged, old electronic equipment, or things like containers without lids, pots without handles etc. No one wants to buy them!
We try to keep good quality items in our shops, and the income from the shops goes towards the operational costs of Mary Potter Hospice. We need to raise around $6 million each year to enable us to provide our service free-of-charge, and the shops play a big role in that. Most of the people who work in the shops sorting through donated items, driving the trucks and liaising with our customers are volunteers, and we couldn’t operate without their amazing support.
January can be a really busy time of the year for Red Cross Shops. People have had a chance to do a bit of spring clean during their time off, and we receive a lot of donations, with people bringing in unwanted gifts and household items. We’re always after good quality items. Generally, we need donated clothing to be in great condition, clean and tidy things that will be loved by their new owner. We’ve also opened seven new super stores over the last year, featuring a contemporary format, which allows us to stock even more furniture and homeware.
We have four Auckland secondhand shops: Glen Innes, Takapuna, City Centre and in Grafton. Over January, our shops tend to be rather quiet as many people are holidaying and out of town. An exception to this however is our Glen Innes store, which is always extremely busy!
In terms of donations, all items donated must be clean and in good condition. We do not accept small electricals, slat beds or furniture that is stained, torn or covered in animal hair, or with damaged springs etc. We are a re-distribution centre – we have no ability to wash, clean, fix or mend.
Donations are re-distributed via our Crisis Care programme to Aucklanders in need, or through our op shops. For example, we can set individuals and families up with starter packs which might include clothing bedding, furniture and necessary kitchen items when they are housed or rehoused. Donations that are excess to requirements may be sold through the Mission’s New Beginnings secondhand shops, providing good quality, low-cost, secondhand clothing and goods to other families and individuals. All profits from these shops are returned directly to help fund the Mission’s social services.
So really, the main message is: don’t donate shit. It’s an eye-opener to take your stuff that is useless now to the dump. But for my family, it was the eye-opener we needed. It made my husband and I feel quite sick and commit to a no-new-toys-no-new-clothes challenge for the year. I am going to do my best to address my op shop addiction and think about WHY I am buying what I’m buying. It’s only a small step, but it’s a start.
Subscribe to The Bulletin to get all the day’s key news stories in five minutes – delivered every weekday at 7.30am.