Repurpose Your Clutter This New Year

Stuff builds up. It just does. No matter how tiny or spacious a house is, there’s always room for more stuff. My garage is cluttered with a ridiculous amount of mason jars from weddings, appliance boxes, and pallets. (It’s a long story.) Some of us save stuff out of sentimentality. Others, thriftiness. We all have our totally valid reasons.

But when it comes down to it, unnecessary stuff just weighs you down.

Remember that feeling of lightness last time you dropped off a bag of clothes at the Goodwill? That’s not something to ignore. It’s only natural that we become accustomed to our surroundings and barely notice the slow accumulation of stuff as it’s happening. But once you slough off all of those unnecessary things, the feeling of relief is palpable.

And honestly, will the kids really want all their papier-mâché 15 years from now?

The New Year is a time ripe for repurposing all the stuff that’s just sitting around the house taking up physical and emotional space.

No one wants to add to a landfill. Upcycling is not only frugal, but it’s good for the planet too.

Here are some earth-friendly ways to transform your stuff into something useful!

Clothing You Just Can’t Part With

Plaid Shirt Pillow via Robin Johnson

If you haven’t worn it threadbare and you just can’t bring yourself to give it away, there’s more to be done with a favorite old shirt than leave it to the closet moths.

Bedroom closets make for primo junk pits. On top of that, 13 million tons of clothing get thrown away every year in the US. If you’re not ready to donate your unworn clothing for one reason or another — all of the clothes I can’t bring myself to donate are things that were handmade by someone who has since passed — instead of letting the clothes suffocate in the back of your closet or disintegrate in a landfill, turn it into something new. You can do just about anything with cloth, but there’s nothing like a shirt pillow.

The best part? You cut off the arms so you don’t have to worry about pit stains.

Hats that You Just Don’t Wear Anymore

Hat Pendant Lamps via Mr.Kate

Oftentimes when we start sorting through our clutter, a lot of it is stuff that just doesn’t fit. Gifts, hand-me-downs, messed up online orders, things we took because someone offered. It always seems like a good idea at the time, but rarely works out as we hope. Repurpose this stuff.

Hand-me-down hats that don’t fit can be turned into quirky indoor lighting. You can use felt bowlers for a classic vintage look, or straw hats for something a little more fun.

Of course, simply knowing your hat size will help alleviate the problem of a mountain of ill-fitting hats in the back of the closet. Even if you’re not able to try the hat on before someone leaves it with you, get your measurements with a piece of string and a ruler. If it’s not the right size, don’t take it.

Unless, of course, you’re collecting hats to make the coolest light fixture ever. Then definitely do.

Random Pallets in the Garage

Pallet Love via Flickr/HansVonk

I’m a collector of pallets. What can I say? When you need a pallet, it’s really nice to have one around. I know I’m not alone in this either. But pallets build up after a while. There comes a time when there are just too many pallets to keep.

The pine slats of pallets are great for repurposing projects. The entire internet agrees. You can take them apart, paint them, and turn them into furniture. Some projects waive the flag of pallet pride high and proud — primarily by keeping the pallet whole and playing off its rusticness — while others completely transform it.

You can make a unique pallet headboard by taking apart the frame, reconfiguring the slats, and adding a coat of paint. It’s more involved than your average DIY; a good project if you’re feeling keen to do some sanding.

No matter how you transform your stuff, the New Year is the time to do it.

Reinvigorating your living space helps pass the winter months. Why wait until spring when you’d much rather be outside playing with the kids?

By Brooke Faulkner

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