Our shops report that Mondays, half terms and other school holidays are the busiest times for donations.

Life is busy, and often we are forced to neglect our living spaces until we get some joined-up hours in which to give them some love, and when we do we can sometimes find there are plenty of things we no longer need that could go to a good home elsewhere.

Our Marketing and Communications Manager, Sarah Burden, documented her journey from a busy space to clutter-freedom and what she decided to do with her excess items.

What inspired you to begin your big sort out?

It was twofold: firstly, I started to panic as I was re-mortgaging and the surveyor was coming around and he wouldn’t have been able to get into at least two of the three bedrooms!

Secondly, it was getting me down how untidy and cluttered the house was. I’m a bit of a hoarder (which I blame my dad for!), and I wanted it to look clear, tidy and to feel better, so that if anyone popped around unexpectedly I wouldn’t be embarrassed.

How did you prepare for your big tidy up? 

I decided I would simply get stuck in. I get quite a lot of charity bags through the letter box that I never fill as I always donate to DAA, so I used some of these to recycle rubbish and the others for donations. In fact it was about 50/50 paper/recycling v donations to DAA (five sacks each).

I’m still not finished though; I separated out yet-to-be-sorted items to go through when I've got some downtime - maybe a box at bedtime. I also like to buy things in the sale, e.g. Christmas and birthday pressies for other people, so that was all in shopping bags, which are now being properly stored under the bed.

How did you decide what to keep and what to pass on?

I was quite brutal as I find it hard to give away things that perhaps someone has given to me. I’m also an enthusiastic crafter, so I had lots of craft materials to organise as well. I gave one small bag of craft things to a colleague for their son and some to another friend who enjoys a bit of crafting.

I love clothes too, and these were tricky to be strict about. That’s really the next task because I can’t get anything else in wardrobes, drawers or the airing cupboard.

  

Sarah makes beautiful and fun upcycled jewellery from broken necklaces and beads, but her love of crafts is sometimes overwhelming! She donates much of her revived jewellery to the Dartmough Vintage and Variety shop.

Are you doing the house or a particular space focusing on one area?

I've done some serious sorting in each room, just so I can get the hoover in and out really. Then I'll go through each room and any remaining boxes, clothes, etc. The first challenge was to have enough space to go into the rooms to sort the items.

Which was the most difficult thing to let go of?

Everything! Well, apart from any rubbish and recyclables, of course.

How does it feel now you’ve made some headway?

I’ve not completed it. There's still a lot to go through and I am sure there'll be many more bags of recycling and donations to DAA charity shops. I think I’m only about half way through - I'm trying so hard not to buy more clothes and other bits!

What advice would you give to others thinking about a big sort out?

Do it. You can make such a difference to DAA and what you no longer want may be what someone else wants or needs. It’s been really difficult for me as I love having things around me. It doesn’t help that I make jewellery, knit, sew, etc. because it all mounts up!

Sarah has done a great job already and she's donated a lot of lovely things to our shops. It's amazing what you can find that is useful but perhaps no longer needed by you when you put aside some time to burrow though your belongings. Read the list of all the donations we can accept in our shops, or find out more about the lifecycle of your donated item.