Just a week ago, New Orleans revelers celebrated Mardi Gras, tossing some 25 million pounds of beads. The following day—Ash Wednesday—marked the beginning of Lent, the annual religious observance that asks Christians to engage in six weeks of penance or self-denial by giving something up.
Whether or not you’re a regular churchgoer, there’s one way to give things up that will reward you immediately, even as you help others: Pledge to give up clutter during Lent—and maybe for good—by cleaning out your old clothing, housewares and other unused goods and calling ClothingDonations.org for a pickup.
Clutter not only gets in your way, it clutters and confuses the mind. “Like used plastic shopping bags stuck on the branches of a riverbank tree, our clutter poisons our view and enjoyment of the objects that we do need and want and use,” says green living expert Annie B. Bond.
Her “8 Easy Steps to No More Clutter” begin with a thorough sorting exercise. Arrange your stuff into five categories: “Essential” things you need every day; “Favorites” such as photos, jewelry, and souvenirs; “Other people’s stuff” that winds up in your space; and “Annoying” or “Downright gross” items like junk mail and dirty laundry.
Start with the gross, she says, and sort out the simply annoying. Return other peoples’ stuff and find places for your favorites. Finally, put all of your essentials in places you can access and use them. Anything that still doesn’t have a home when you’re finished is clutter—and you can throw it away or donate it.
This is a comprehensive approach to spring cleaning, to be sure, but with almost five more weeks of Lent, you’ll have time to give something up and still do the virtuous work of helping others. When you donate the stuff that clutters up your house, the proceeds go toward programs that help feed, house and thank the nation’s veterans for their service.
There’s never a bad time to give up clutter, but you, your family and the nation’s veterans will all be better off once you do. So start today—you’ll be happy you did!