The definition of clutter (n), according to Merriam-Webster, is “a crowded or confused mass or collection.” See also: frequent state of my thoughts and/or living space. The dictionary goes on to define the transitive verb form of clutter as “to fill or cover with scattered or disordered things that impede movement or reduce effectiveness.” Clutter sucks the energy from you the way too many objects in a room absorb sound.

One effective way to combat this energy-suck, regain much needed closet space, and boost your sense of personal well-being, according to science, is to give stuff away. You’re never going to wear that super-cute skirt from college or that winter coat that doesn’t go with any of your outfits anymore. But someone else might. Instead of keeping these items in sentimental captivity, what if you set them free to find a new home with an owner who would wear and appreciate them? You’ll get to experience what studies call “empathic joy” (Batson & Shaw, 1991). You’ll feel connected to your fellow humans and make some space in your heart and your bedroom.

Getting rid of closet clutter

Cleaning out your closet will not only help you to feel good, it will help you to do good. And to that end, here are some great organizations that could really use your donations. All are well-rated with Charity Navigator and serve worthy causes.

Goodwill Industries International, Inc.: Goodwill provides job training youth, senior citizens, and veterans, as well as people with disabilities, special needs and criminal backgrounds. They help those who might not otherwise have access to career training learn the skills necessary to obtain work and improve their quality of life. Goodwill assists with English language learning, access to transportation and child care, and other support services. Goodwill accepts donations of household goods and clothing. Click here to find a donation center near you.

Dress for Success: Dress for Success is an international non-profit with a 4-star Charity Navigator rating. DFS’s goal is to help women achieve economic independence. Their volunteers counsel women in the weeks leading up to a job interview, and their boutiques provide outfits to help their clients look and feel professional. Dress for Success seeks donations of new or gently used suits and other business-appropriate apparel as well as accessories such as handbags, jewelry, and unused cosmetics. Click here to find your local affiliate.

Soles4Souls: Soles4Souls aims to wipe out global poverty through the collection and redistribution of shoes and clothing. Providing shoes to those in impoverished communities who may have no means of transportation other than walking makes it possible for those people to attend school or get to work. S4S also assists micro-entrepreneurs looking to establish small businesses by providing them with low- cost products and creating a sustainable income stream. Click here to find out where to donate or learn how to start your own shoe drive.

Amvets National Service Foundation: Amvets is a national nonprofit providing services to veterans and their dependents. The group assists with the filing of “red tape” paperwork so that vets and their families can claim government benefits. Amvets also provides scholarships for eligible veterans and their dependents; their volunteers serve at VA health facilities, working with hospitalized and disabled veterans. The nonprofit accepts donations of clothing and household goods which are then sold in their thrift stores at discounted prices. Click here to find a location near you or to schedule a pickup.

Other places to donate clothing and goods are your local shelters for the homeless or for battered women. Even your old linens (but not pillows) can be donated to local animal shelters which will use them to line cages and pens. A good way to find charities in need of your donations is through Charity Navigator’s search tool.

Make room for goodness in your life by clearing out old and unused items, and you’ll make the world better while you’re at it.


Photo credit: “Picking out clothes” by keepingtime_ca is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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