Out of the Closet (And into a New Home)


EcoSalon has praised the benefits of buying less this holiday season. At the same time, why not clean out your closets and give up what you don’t use so that someone who needs clothing and toys can benefit?

Modern Mom did a post on what they called Project Giveaway – which is an ideal way to describe what is going on in my own home as I rummage through closets, bagging what doesn’t fit and what we don’t wear. I must do it while my kids are at school because they are creatures of habit who cling to old items for nostalgia’s sake. They have put up a big fuss any time we have joined neighborhood yard sales and it has taken much cajoling to convince them to part with what they don’t use. They are generous kids with great core values but my 10-year-old likes to insist, “I’m saving that for my children!”

Follow my lead and spend a few hours this week allowing retired items to come out of the closet. An indicator you have too much?

“Drawers are usually overfilled and it is hard to find what you actually own,” I’m told by professional San Francisco organizer, Molly Coomber, who helps people get a jump start on what can be a daunting task.

For some, it’s a question of what to give away and how. I’m pretty ruthless about that, dispensing rather easily with what I think someone else could use. For those who struggle more, women like Beth Berliner of Revamp offer closet makeovers. Berliner’s service basically overhauls the contents of home closets helping busy people make the best use of what they do own.

“It’s the idea of being green and recycling and utilizing clothes that are part of your wardrobe in a different way,” Berliner explains. “I think you should get rid of what hasn’t been worn in years and what is not flattering to your body, which obviously changes over years.”

Berliner finds once you have cleared out ill fitting and outdated blouses, shoes and jeans, you are left with what really works for you.

“You end up with more because you can see what you have and you can pull more when getting dressed and save time weeding through your closet,” she says. “Taking stock of what is in there sets up a working wardrobe.”

I love the afterglow of weeding out, and I think an edited closet and toy shelves allow my children to be reintroduced to items they forgot that they owned.

In terms of what to take out, you can separate out garments  that are too small and have no sentimental value. Obviously, you aren’t going to toss out that first birthday dress or first copy of Good Night Moon, but if it has no sentimental value, kiss it goodbye.


I first donate to friends who can use the hand-me-downs and give away the bulk to various charities in my city, including the ARC, which offers  a household recycling pick up of clothing, furniture, toys and books and other household items you wish to donate. Many similar organizations abound nationwide, and are eager to collect during the holiday period. Warm weather clothing, especially,  is so appreciated this time of year.

You can also consign your clothing at many boutiques, such as Designer Consigner and the Junior League’s  Next-to-New Shop in San Francisco. Some of them pay as much as 50% on items sold and donate what doesn’t sell. Some also give percentages of their proceeds to good causes such as cancer research.

Be sure to ask for a receipt for the tax benefit of giving non-monetary items in 2009. Hey, it is just one more incentive for playing Project Giveaway. The biggest incentive for me is that cleaning out means less to contend with, and it feels so good.

Main Image: Liz Marie

Luanne Bradley

Luanne Sanders Bradley is the West coast Editor at EcoSalon and currently resides in San Francisco, California.