For a couple of years I have been working on what I call "Project Attic." My goal is to get rid of everything that I don't expect to use, or that I don't love for itself. The project is motivated partly by my dislike of clutter and partly by dismay at watching a friend who was gripped by a hoarding compulsion. While I don't subscribe to the practices of feng shui, I have adopted its notion that one's surroundings influence one's mind and spirit.
But just clearing it out isn't enough-I want everything to go to its highest and best use. So I recycle things that can't be reused, like old newspapers and odd bits of scrap metal, while directing everything else to someone who can use it. The best outcome is when the item is used for its original purpose, but next best is that it can be "repurposed." This takes a lot more ingenuity and effort than you might think.
The first obvious step is to have a garage sale. After two of these, yielding about $40 and ending with hauling half our stuff back to the attic, my husband revolted. Now items of any real value go to Treasure Mart for sale, and the rest are donated. Clothing and household items are sought after by local thrift shops. Books and DVDs go to the Friends of the Library. My city councilman, a Kiwanis member, did a special pickup to take the braided rugs my mother-in-law made. The ReUse Center on South Industrial is choosy about what it takes but did agree to pick up an old library table, as long as the move didn't involve stairs. So my husband and I (both past sixty-five) lugged the heavy antique oak table up the narrow basement stairs and into the garage, from where two big muscular young guys gently picked it up and stowed it in their truck.