Saturday, January 1, 2011

Putting our best feet forward

Happy New Year!

 The Downsize Challenge took a backseat to some personal life up-sizing last summer, but I am back, and am recommitting to another year of cleaning house. The experience of emptying the Florida home of my 95 year old Dutch grandparents last winter sparked a purge surge, inspired in part by their long term over-utilization of a utility closet, which was packed with cut-off toaster cords, half-filled butane canisters, puzzles with missing pieces, instruction manuals for household appliances that were no longer operable, lids to broken coffee pots, stacks of mailing labels with old addresses, forty years of tax records, and a whole lot more.

I am determined not to follow in their footsteps in terms of accumulation and I invite you to join me in 2011 as I continue reducing, redistributing, and re-purposing things around our place. If you choose to tag along, I'll email you with the focus for our weekly challenge, including suggestions for finding new homes for the things we no longer use, need, or love enough to keep.

Are you ready to kick off the new year???

Putting our best feet forward: Shoes and socks

How many athletic shoes are in current use in your household? When you got your last new pair, what did you do with the old ones? I saved mine for mowing the lawn. That meant that the ones I was already using for lawn mowing replaced the ones I had been saving in the utility closet for the infrequent, but inevitable painting project. The previous painting project pair was then demoted and shoved into the box of miscellaneous stuff in the corner of the closet that is full of other items that I am never quite sure how to deal with, because they seem too useful to be trash, but aren't so useful that they will actually ever get used again by me. They are old smelly sneakers, not worthy of donating for reuse by anyone else, but when I think of them going to a landfill, I shove them back in the closet.

Can you relate?

There is good news. Athletic shoes can be recycled. If they just don't fit you well, and you honestly think they have life left in them, hang onto them for a few more minutes, (I'll be talking about options for donating non-athletic shoes next), but if they are truly un-footworthy, you might want to let Nike grind them up into flooring for gymnasiums, tracks, and other surfaces. Check out their link below to learn more about their ReUseaShoe program and enter your zip code to find a drop-off location near you. They will accept up to ten pair at a time, athletic shoes only, of any brand.

Take a very close look at the rest of your shoes. Don't forget about the boots. When was the last time you wore that pair? Are that many black shoes necessary? Are there any you are ready to consign, donate, or discard?

If they are in very good shape, without a lot of scuff marks, soles still in good condition, etc, you've got some options:

-Consignment, if you want to invest the time in the possibility of making a few dollars.
-Donation to Goodwill or your local thrift store for resale.
-Donation to Dress for Success – a program that promotes self-sufficiency by providing career skills and clothing for women trying to obtain jobs (check to see if there is a program in your area that will accept dress shoes)

If they are gently worn but still wearable, but might not sell at a resale shop, consider other donation options:

-Salvation Army or other agency in your area
-The yellow bins managed by Planet Aid, a private non-profit.
-Soles4souls – a shoe charity program that collects and distributes shoes to people all over the world, often after natural disasters, like tsunamis or hurricanes. They will accept any kind of shoe, even a single shoe, but it should still be in wearable condition. Check out their website for more details and to enter your zip code for a drop-off location. It is also possible to ship shoes to their warehouse if you are not near a drop-off center.

If you are finding yourself ambivalent about parting with a particular pair of footwear because you haven't been wearing them but think that you might...try putting a penny in the toe. In 6 months, when I remind you to check for change in your shoes, you can make a more informed decision.

While we are thinking about our feet, let's check out the sock situation. Any in donatable condition that you just don't use because they are hot pink and you are just not a hot pink person? How many of your socks have holes in the toes or heels? How long are you planning on saving that stray?

What can you do with the socks headed for retirement? Clean blinds or other places that involve reaching into narrow areas, stuff a tennis ball in the toe and make a dog toy, fill them with rice for microwaveable hot packs...

Anybody with a collection of overextended nylons or tights? Because nylon doesn't break down, there aren't any recycling options for pantyhose, but the reuse suggestions online are endless:

-great for storing garlic (the air circulates well, plus they will look cool hanging in your kitchen)
-great for storing garden bulbs
-stretch one over your broom and see what it picks up, amazing!
-clean or polish shiny things, use to dust your computer keyboard
-superb emergency fan belt (but not recommended for a long distance emergency)
-tie up plants in the yard and garden
-sling shot

But my favorite, and maybe the most seasonally appropriate suggestion:

Not only a source of support to legs, nylon stockings can be used to store wrapping paper, rolled posters, or anything that tends to unwind and could benefit from a little compression.

So the challenge this week is to streamline your shoes, socks, and hose. Start the year with one step in the right direction.

1 comment:

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