For those things that don’t “spark joy”

The KonMari Aftermath

With the advent of Marie Kondo’s Netflix series, I’m sure most of us are guilty of following the almost cult-like obsession of purging your life of things you feel like you no longer need. But instead of heading straight towards Goodwill, here are some suggestions as to what to do and where you should bring those items that have lost their spark in your life.

The Three Piles: Thrift - Donate - Meh

After looking at the pile of clothes and books that I’ve accumulated after the great purge, I sorted them out under three categories: those that I would bring to a thrift store, those that I could donate, and those I felt like no one would take a chance on.

Thrift pieces are those really good looking items that you could still get some profit off. They could be new items (tags intact!) that you didn’t really like or gently-used pieces that look like they’ve only seen a couple of washes. For books and shoes, you’d want them to be in very good condition.

The Donate pile is the slightly more ragged, but still usable looking items you have. Make sure that for clothes, there are no rips, holes or missing buttons! Think about it this way - these items are essentially your “hand me downs” to other people, so make sure that they’re still in good, working condition.

Lastly, you’d want your Meh pile to have the items that are completely unusable - shirts with holes, shoes that are totally unfit for walking, books that have wet-stains and totally unreadable pages. Just generally things that you know other people won’t ever pick up.

Thrift: Getting back some of your money’s worth!

Head on over to Buffalo Exchange or any thrift store near your area that has a buy back program in place (I’ve recently learned there are a lot of thrift stores in SF - they’re a dying breed, but I hope to be able to visit most of them this year!).

As for books, go to your local second hand bookstores and see which ones they’ll take (I’m still super sad that Stevens Books SF closed recently, but other stores I’ve been frequenting lately are Green Apple Books at Clement and Dog Eared Books at Valencia)! Take note: they’ll be really picky about your items, but don’t get too discouraged! If they won’t take them, you can always put it up on the internet or hold your own small garage sale.

If there are no takers, feel free to move these items to your “Donate” pile.

Donate: Doing good for others

At this point, I know it’s absolutely very tempting to just chuck everything onto Goodwill or Salvation Army, but hear me out: there are other charitable institutions in need of your old clothes and shoes!

Case in point: I was searching for alternatives at Recycle Where? and found out about St. Anthony’s Foundation SF. If you have old, usable work clothes, consider sending them to Wardrobe for Opportunity, Dress for Success SF or check out this list from Jails to Jobs to help people start their careers by looking good on their first interview. A little digging through the internet can help others who have more pressing needs.

Libraries could also use your old books too! If not, search for a non-profit organization who will sell your books and use those profits for a cause - just like the Friends of the San Francisco Public Library! If you only have one, two or max three books, hunt down a Little Free Library bookshelf or sign them up on BookCrossing and leave it for someone else to enjoy.

If you still have stuff after exhausting all of the internet’s resources (I went out of my way to look for an organization that would take my mom’s old scrub suits, mind you), then give yourself the permission to bring those to Goodwill or Salvation Army.

Meh: Oh the endless possibilities!

Technically, this pile should be the smallest pile out of the three because they’ll contain items that you’ve totally forsaken and abandoned to ruin. Personally, I’ve already entertained the idea of cutting up some of my shirts to make a braided t-shirt rug, but there are still so many things you can do with this pile! Old magazines and books no one wants? Make gift tags, envelopes or cards with them! They’ll look vintage AF.

Look for more arts and crafts to re-purpose them - or at least get some joy out of making them.

Other “corporate” ways to give back

Here are a few more (targeted) ideas as to where you could leave your items and still feel good about it - with some perks included! (will periodically update this if I ever come across something along the way):

H&M - Garment Collection Program
Bring your clothes in ANY condition (meaning your “Meh” pile) and they’ll be sent to a recycling plant. You also get a 15% off discount card for every bag you give them. Sweet!

Madewell - Blue Jeans Go Green

If you’re a big girl like me, you’ll most likely have jeans with rips on the inner thigh (#biggirlproblems). You definitely can’t donate those, so bring them to Madewell and they’ll make sure that those jeans will become housing insulation! As an incentive, you get a $20 discount off your next jean purchase.

DSW + Soles4Souls + Be Strong - Give a Pair

If you’ve taken extra good care of some of your shoes (or if you have shoes that just never fit you), head on to your nearest DSW store and donate them to help empower more women and children! If you’re a DSW VIP member, you get 50 points added to your account too, win-win!

Nike - Reuse-A-Shoe

If your athletic shoes are falling apart from all that exercise and #hotbod glory, it’s time to give them a chance at a new life! Nike will literally grind your old tennis/running shoes and re-use the material to make new products you’d love to do sports in. No perks other than the satisfaction that your rubber shoes are doing something good and not sitting on a landfill.

Lessons from the Aftermath

Real talk: After the whole KonMari method, I realized that 1) I had a ton of stuff that didn’t make me happy, 2) My happiness must have then relied on material things, and 3) That idea sucks.

I now have less clothes on my cabinet and a lot less books on my shelf, but the whole experience has made me a better consumer while walking down, say, a mall or downtown. The urge to compulsively buy items is less now, and I always ask myself if it would really make me happy in the long run, or if it had more meaning to it than immediate satisfaction.

I’ve watched more documentaries now about Minimalism and Fast Fashion - it really has opened my eyes to a whole lot of issues we’re currently facing. I don’t expect other people to experience this aha-moment, and maybe most of them just stop at donating, but there are really more underlying problems we have to address - and not just those that are in our closets.

About this author

Shing is a self professed milk-tea addict and selfie queen - two traits that she carried over from the Philippines to her new home in San Francisco. The sole writer for The Ugly Notebook, her current goal in life is to be able to finish all her borrowed library books before the deadline, while juggling school work, a retail job and an internship all at the same time.