Cleaning out the closet: what to do with your gently used goods during quarantine

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(Nicole Weisjahn / The Metropolitan)

Spring 2020 has been the era of at home projects. Whether it’s clearing out the room full of random belongings in your basement or finally putting together that IKEA shelf, the COVID-19 pandemic has deprived many of us from our one excuse to not do the things at the bottom of our to-do lists: time. Which means closets have been cleaned, garages have been emptied and all the little storage spaces in people’s houses have been sorted through.

The garbage has all been disposed of properly and now all people are left with are the hidden treasures that have been buried and long forgotten. Maybe it’s a crate full of mason jars or a set of dumbbells that’s never been used. It would be wasteful to just toss things like that in the garbage, so what do you do with them?

Normally, summer is the season for garage sales. It’s the perfect time to gather up all the trinkets and knick-knacks that have been collecting dust and sell them so they can go and collect dust in someone else’s house. However, with the COVID-19 pandemic continuing to hang over everyone’s heads, Minnesotans are still being urged to social distance and limit their interactions with others. Garage sales aren’t exactly conducive to keeping your distance with strangers, which means your plans for a big sale may be on hold.

Donating is also out of the question. As of May 28, Goodwill is asking people to hold onto their donations until they can reopen. Disabled American Veterans, a non-profit that assists veterans in need, has suspended its pick-up services and removed several of its donation boxes from sites. The same goes for the Salvation Army, who has limited it’s pick-up and drop-off locations for donations.

Companies like these are still accepting monetary donations, so if you’re looking to make a difference, you still can; however, you may have to hold on to your clothes and old books.

There are still a number of things that you can do with your old clothes, mason jars and any other usable good you may have lying around your house. I won’t pretend to know what hidden gems you have tucked away in your basement; however, I’m willing to bet there’s a DIY recipe out there with your exact junk in mind.

DIY projects allow people to turn an old piece of clothing or furniture into something new. By putting in a little time and effort, you can completely transform something. For example, I plan on turning my box of jelly jars into planters using this DIY recipe.

Websites like YouTube and Pinterest have thousands and thousands of DIY hacks and recipes for people to try, but it can be difficult deciphering which ones are legit and which recipes are complete busts. Look at the comments on DIY videos and see if anyone has tried to recreate them. (A general rule of thumb: if it’s labeled “five minute craft,” it’s most likely going to take longer than five minutes.)

DIY projects also let people flex their creativity. They often require you to work with the tools you have, which means that sometimes you have to get creative. It gives people the opportunity to practice their problem-solving skills during a time that resourcefulness and problem-solving feels especially useful.

Whether you wait patiently to donate your gently used items or you break out the hot glue gun and get creative, the quarantine has provided ample opportunity to clean up and organize your space. Take the time to go through your things and decide what’s getting thrown, what’s getting donated and what’s getting a makeover.