The Green Life: Living With Less

by Rosa Colucci


May 13, 2020

Being stuck in our homes has brought a new reality to light: We own too much stuff. 

Cleaning and disinfecting all of it has made us just want to get rid of it. There are lots of ways to do that but here is some helpful information to make sure that what you own does not travel from living room to landfill. 

First, Goodwill is still taking donations. But the process has changed. There are public drop-off centers with boxes in the rear that are accepting donations (; call first to determine hours that they are open and do not drop in off hours. They call this dumping. If you leave and it rains during the night, those items are ruined and not sellable. 

A representative I spoke to at an express donation center explained that the stores are now staffed to for social distancing. Express donations also must be trucked for processing whereas facilities with store selling space do not. Here is the system:

Donation Boxes: 

  1. Books 
  2. Linens (Bed linens, curtains, blankets, etc.) 
  3. Clothing (no rips or stains, sellable items)
  4. Hard Goods (Small electrics, home décor, everything that would not be in the other categories.) 
  5. Oversize items (small furniture, small (no larger than 36 inch high) bookshelves)

Donation Tips:

  • Children’s toys should be in their own box and sealed so it does not come apart. Larger toys (Barbie Townhouse) should be delivered assembled. If you have a larger toy with directions. Put it in a box and secure it as one unit. 
  • No large furniture including full-size sofas, loveseats, oversized recliners.
  • Be mindful of the rain. Boxes will change daily based on the weather.
  • Do not overfill drop boxes: When they are filled, an employee will stack another box on top. If you overfill then an employee is responsible to remove items, increasing the risk of exposure.
  • Avoid busy times: Noon-1 p.m. You will wait and boxes will be full.
  • If you have large furniture to dispose of, you can make use of sites such as Freecycle. You can also put items for sale or free on Facebook Marketplace. Also check your neighborhood groups, many have sales listings and giveaways. 

When you’re done clearing the excess clutter, look at what’s left and decide where it should live. Create a simple reading nook/study corner for the kids. Put hobbies in a separate space. The easiest way to do tackle this is to set your phone timer for just one hour and get a little done. Slow progress will get you to the finish line fast. 

Lastly, this is a good time to assess your household chemicals and get rid of what you are not using. Excess paint, pesticides, aerosol cans and automotive fluids are just some of the items that you do not need to have laying around.

Search “Household Chemical Collection Events” for a list of local and governmental agencies and the type of waste they accept. Many local municipalities also have stand-alone centers, Call ahead for collection times.

Rosa Colucci is a features writer, color educator and consultant. She writes a bi-weekly newsletter for The Green Voice. 

Connect with Rosa on her Instagram @rosieshouse