My phone rings.

I hear desperation as someone says, “I have to get rid of stuff. Do you have any ideas on where I can get rid of my extra kitchen stuff? I have furniture that I have been meaning to fix. I have antiques; will anyone buy them? I have a lot of tools to sell. Will anyone buy my upright piano? Every upstairs closet is filled with clothes I can’t bear to part with. I have to start somewhere. What do you think I should do?”

There is always a way out. And the first step is the most important one.

I am like you — I can get totally stopped at the prospect of throwing something out and thinking it is landing in the waste stream.  But we have to focus on the idea that the goal is to reduce our own belongings as we create some peace and organization in our homes and in our lives.

Years ago, faced with the recurring thought that “Everything has to go,”  I decided on a different tack. What if I reduced everything by just 25 per cent — I could give away one-quarter of everything and it would be easy.

But here is a secret: once you get started, it seems easier to reduce even more. How many casserole dishes does one need? How many sets of screwdrivers? How many drills?

 Choose one room, one closet or one area and IMAGINE (take 30 seconds to do this) how it will look when items are reduced. Then, get started.

Here are some of my top tips to reduce the content of your home, shed or garage. (See my other post: What has happened to garages?

Buy Nothing groups:

See if there is a Buy Nothing group in your area. These are Facebook groups that are hyper-local. Post a photo of what you would like to give away and people will comment that they would like to have the item and you choose who gets it. The best part: the recipients you choose will be from your neighbourhood and will come to your door and collect the items. You can leave items outside your door in a pick-up box.

Secondhand stores:

These can vary. Some accept low-end stuff. Some buy and sell like-new items. Choose your store accordingly. Often, the entrepreneurs who operate these shops will come to your home and take everything away. Hooray!

 Valuable items:

Find an auction house that accepts items on consignment. Work with someone you trust. That mammoth family sideboard will be sold anonymously. Item gone = cash for you.

Sheets, bedding, towels:

Shelters are often ecstatic to receive this type of item. Old towels? Contact a pet shelter or adoption agency. Check with your local veterinarian. These towels and blankets are truly appreciated by those caring for animals.

Post items for sale on Facebook Marketplace:

This is another great way to move furniture. Price it to sell and watch it move. Buyers will come right in and carry items away. Or: move items outside just prior to buyers’ arrival for safe pick-up.

 Yard Sales, House Sales:

Yard sales went on hiatus during the pandemic, but they will be back. You can also consider a one-day House Sale. Gather items you want to sell, put prices on them, and arrange them in one or two rooms of your home. This works really well for furniture and finer dishes, etc. Organize some friends to volunteer and be with you during the sale.

Give items to charitable organizations:

Organizations tend to hold their own fundraisers and sometimes, a truckload of items is welcome. The organization will sell your stuff and make money and you have made a donation to the cause!

If you need help or local recommendations, send me an email or give me a call. Because my last tip is this: sometimes bringing in an empathetic friend or support to get started can make all the difference in the world. I am happy to use my local connections and knowledge give you that boost if you need it!