What aren’t you using this winter?

While the chilly winds blow (at least on those of us in the northern hemisphere), now is a great time to go through your home and see what winter-related items you haven’t used this year and donate the excess to charity. You’ll free up space in your home, and possibly help someone in need make it through the winter more comfortably.

Check out your:

  • Blankets. Are there heavy blankets lingering in your closet that you haven’t used this year or last year or the year before that?
  • Sweaters. If you haven’t worn the sweater by now, are you ever going to wear it again?
  • Hats, gloves, scarves. If you have children, do all the hats and gloves in your closet still fit someone in your home?
  • Coats. Similar to your sweaters, if any of your winter coats haven’t been worn this season, are you ever going to wear them?
  • Boots. If they’re in good condition, someone in need could really benefit from any boots you’re not wearing.
  • Outdoor recreation items. Sleds, toboggans, and skis won’t help someone in need, but if you’re no longer using them, they still shouldn’t be taking up space in your garage.
  • Outdoor care items. Snow shovels, snow blowers, and other outdoor care items should be replaced if they’re broken or unsafe to use. Don’t donate unusable items to charity, but recycle and/or trash pieces as appropriate.
  • Decorations. Any holiday or winter decorations you didn’t put out this year could easily be sold on eBay, Craigslist, or given away through Freecycle. Check with local doctors’ offices, day care centers, and schools to see if they have any interest in the items you didn’t use this year.

Those of you basking in the summer sun in the southern hemisphere, consider doing a similar sweep for unused warm-weather items. If you haven’t used something yet, it’s likely just taking up space in your home unnecessarily.

23 Comments for “What aren’t you using this winter?”

  1. posted by Lazygal on

    I wish I could do that – because we haven’t had any real snow (or cold), I’ve used very little of my winter stuff this year! But it’s good to think about this for next year… or next season.

  2. posted by Kim on

    Normally I would agree, but some areas of the US are having a record warm winter. Not having used gloves, hats, coats, ect during a winter that has only had about 5 days where the high wasn’t 20 above average is not necessarily indicative of the fact you won’t use them in the future.

  3. posted by Mackenzie on

    I’m not sure *this* winter is a good one to go by for what’s needed through the winter. It’s only snowed twice!

  4. posted by Alyssa on

    We’re having an unseasonably warm winter in Austin this year. Granted, it never gets crazy cold, but enough to warrant sweaters and long sleeves. However, it’s been in the 60s or 70s all winter. It’s so tempting to purge all my winter clothes since I have worn hardly any this year. I’m trying constantly reminding myself that I need to keep some because it won’t always be this cold. I don’t want to get rid of all my sweaters then have to buy more next winter.

  5. posted by Kay on

    Love the post, cringe and shudder at the “easily sell on eBay or Craigslist” as I have had NO success selling very cheap, very good condition goods on either one, even employing a trade assistant to take over the process for me!

  6. posted by Becky on

    Sleds, toboggans, and skis can help someone in need! I live in a poor rural area with cold snowy winters, and passing along winter recreation equipment to a family or organization that serves disadvantaged kids would make someone very happy around here. Snowshoes, too, can help someone whose body might not be up to tobogganing, to get outdoors in the winter for some fresh air and sunshine.

    Alleviating cabin fever prevents depression and ill-health. If you aren’t using your winter recreation gear anymore, it could be a real lifesaver for someone else, young or old!

  7. posted by Alison on

    Really, so economically disadvantaged people aren’t allowed to sled or ski? I’d think that outdoor play equipment would be low on their priority list for purchase but, given the item, snow is free!!

  8. posted by WilliamB on

    Xmas ornaments accumulate. I think they reproduce in their boxes between seasons, because what else have they to do? So when I decorate the tree I ask myself “Where did this come from? Why do I want to keep it?” If the answer is “I don’t remember where it came from but I kept it last year so I should keep it this year,” then I know it’s time to get rid of the ornament.

    These days the only new ornaments I get are travel souvenirs. It needs to be something local and have the locality name and the date of my trip. (I can add name and date myself.)

  9. posted by WilliamB on

    For coats and blankets, rather than ask if I’ve used it recently I think about how many I want. For example, for coats:
    – summer raincoat
    – winter raincoat, lined
    – deep cold coat
    – usual cold coat
    – medium coat/fleece
    – windbreaker
    – running jacket (if I could find one in a non-noxious color, the running jacket could fit the windbreaker niche, but I haven’t found such a thing yet)

    For blankets I go by bed count. Per bed I want two sets summer sheets, two sets winter sheets, one light blanket, and one heavy blanket. I also want about three more blankets for couch guests. I also like throws on couches; these can double as additional guest blankets. This is probably more than most Unclutterer readers have, but I store compactly and I like having visitors.

  10. posted by WilliamB on

    When thinking about where to donate, consider animal shelters. They are constantly in need to blankets and sheets, and will (generally?) take bedding that is too ratty for Goodwill.

  11. posted by Meg on

    Re – sleds and skis – I got her point. A good reason to clear away blankets now (instead of waiting) is that people may be cold and can use them now.
    Equipment doesn’t have the same incentive of helping someone stay warm. But still has the incentive of clearing away space during a season when it is most salable (is salable a word?).

  12. posted by Erin Doland on

    @Alison – Not a single homeless shelter in our area accepts recreational equipment. All of ours want things like towels, socks, coats, blankets, toothbrushes, shampoo, sweaters. They want items the homeless need. In all the work I’ve done with homeless shelters over my lifetime, I’ve never known of one to give residents recreational equipment like skis and sleds.

  13. posted by DawnF on

    This is a great process to go through at the end of each season!

    Our church is always so grateful to receive winter clothing and blankets ~ for their Under The Bridge Ministry program.

    If you have large/bulky items that you want to discard (and have no interest in selling or donating) then contact your local Freecycle group and it’s quite possible somebody would snatch it/them up in a heartbeat right off of your front porch.

  14. posted by Jodi on

    @Becky, Allison and Erin,
    As a former single mom with a disabled child who has been the recipient of many blessings, sleds are one of the very best!

    If the local homeless shelter wont take them, you can try domestic violence shelters (the one here accepts all kinds of toys for the children who arrive fleeing bad situations), children hospitals, therapy centers (my daughter has been in a social skills group that did this type of thing), and you could also contact local private schools or churches to ask if they have any families that could use the items. Some churches also have “free” indoor yard sales that would take items like that.

    There are so many options beyond just a homeless shelter, and something like a simple sled can mean hope and bring smiles. That is a need, even if many take it for granted.

  15. posted by Jodi on

    …and dont rule out checking with the homeless shelters. I ended up in one for a few months after a family emergency transplanted me 3000 miles across the country with no place to stay. The shelter I was at had a rec room full of toys for the kids who were there. So you just never know unless you ask.

  16. posted by Mark on

    For those who have experienced a warmer than normal Winter don’t let that stop you. You can still look at your items and determine if there is too much.

    I often find an excuse to not be more organized and feel justified in living with the clutter. “Oh, it was a warm Winter so I don’t have to look at the coats this year…I am expecting guests this Autumn so I won’t toss any blankets, just in case I need them.” Instead, I can look at the blankets and coats and imagine, how many do I really need…and get rid of the rest.

  17. posted by Mary in TN on

    Amen, Mark. Our winters in TN have been warm like the rest of the South, but last week we had two cold days. I decided to take that opportunity to wear one of my sweaters. When I started looking through the sweater drawer, I realized how long it had been since I’d worn a sweater at all! So that drawer’s being cleaned out, and I’ll keep one or two for the inevitable cold winters in the future. All the rest are outa here.

  18. posted by JustGail on

    I agree that just going by what’s been used this winter might be a mistake, and should think what’s been used the past 2-3 years (unless you’re looking for a reason to replace things next year). In fact, that’s my standard, unless considering an acquisition that wasn’t really well thought out in the first place. I have some outdoor wear that I only use every couple of years, but I’m really glad I have it on hand.

    Regarding the outdoor toys – don’t give up. If the normal shelters/charities/resale shops say no thank you, put them on the curb with a “free” sign. They WILL be gone by the end of the day, if not before you get back in the door. Of course that only works if you really don’t care who ends up with it, for some, it seems that helping those doing without is more important than the decluttering. If you must sell it, it might take some time, or a re-examination of your price.

  19. posted by Alison on

    Finger tap to nose on the DV shelter, my typical donation venue. The snow berms here now are reaching 2 stories high – hours of free fun for any kid with snowpants and a bum but a sled or your kids too-small skis make it extra sweet. Doing this exercise again in the fall is a great idea as that’s when shelters really need gear and many don’t have storage for lots of bulky garments.

  20. posted by Sue on

    Great idea to go through the winter stuff now, towards the end of winter.

    I agree that this particular winter, for many of us, hasn’t been a good indicator of what we’re actually using. I have a cold weather coat that is only useful when temps are well below freezing. I haven’t worn it at all this winter, but it saw a lot of use over the past several years. There is no way I’m going to donate it just because I haven’t worn it this year.

    However, I also have a pile of turtlenecks and haven’t worn a single one this year. Maybe I should go through and pair down that pile to the few that I like best. I went through a turtleneck phase a few years ago, but I’ve moved on and don’t really care to wear most of them anymore.

  21. posted by Susan on

    I agree with the other comments about sweaters. I’ve worn my heavy coat because I commute via public transit and have to wait on windy platforms for trains. But the office isn’t very cold, and this year I sit in a different location where it’s warmer. However, I have some very warm, very heavy sweaters that I love and are worth keeping even if only worn a handful of times.

    It may be worthwhile to take a closer look at kids’ clothes because by next winter it’s likely they’ll have outgrown them.

  22. posted by Someone on

    Yeah, I’m with the this-winter-has-been-too-abnormallly-warm-for-this-to-work crowd. I haven’t worn any of my warmest wool sweaters this year — but most years they get heavy use (I live in an older building with poor insulation), so I’m not going to ditch them because of one unusually warm winter. Ditto my gloves, scarf, snow shovel, etc.

    I think this is the single warmest winter I have ever experienced.

  23. posted by Someone on

    And it’s definitely worth looking for places to donate the recreational equipment. Giving someone in a difficult situation a chance to have some fun is worthwhile as well.

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