Are you sitting down? I have some shocking news…
…there’s stuff in your garage that you don’t need.
But don’t panic! Here’s how I work with my clients to decide what stays, what goes, and what to do with unwanted items. Often deciding what you will do with any items you don’t want or need before you decide if you actually want them can speed up the deciding process.
TRACKS stands for Trash, Recycle, Action, Charity, Keep, and Sell. When I’m decluttering with someone, we go through each item and ask which of these categories it belongs in. Sorting everything into these categories is a big step towards a neat, peaceful home.
Pro tip: Start in a small area to get the hang of TRACKS. Try decluttering one box, one drawer, or one shelf using this method. It’s okay to go slow.
This is the first letter of the acronym, but it’s really the last resort. Only send an item to the landfill if it doesn’t fit in any other category.
This one is a step above trash. If something doesn’t fit into any other category, but it’s recyclable, do it! Make sure you follow local regulations to avoid recycling contamination. In LA, this means things like washing and drying out plastic containers before putting them in the blue bin. For more information on recycling in LA, click here.
Sometimes all an item needs is a makeover. If you can repair or refurbish something to make it useful again, go for it. There’s no need to toss out those garden shears if they just need to be sharpened. If you don’t know how to repair something, take it to an expert for an assessment. Paying for repairs can sometimes be less expensive than buying new—and consider repairs even if they cost a bit more. The longer an item stays in circulation, the better for the planet.
Consider donating items that you don’t want but are still in good condition. Make sure you call the charity first to see what they’re accepting. Some great places to donate to in the Los Angeles area are:
- Baby2Baby, which collects and redistributes gently-used baby and young children’s items.
- LA Shares, which redistributes working electronic goods to schools and other non-profit agencies in the area.
- PATH (People Assisting The Homeless), which builds affordable housing and offers support services.
- Soles4Souls, which take gently worn shoes that you don’t wear anymore.
You can also donate to charities that sell your items, like:
You can also just give things away through your local Buy Nothing group!
Not everything in your garage has to go! I want you to have what you love and need. A “throw it all away” mentality will leave you with a clean (empty) garage, but that’s not what decluttering is for. The point is to deliberately choose what’s in your garage, instead of having all or nothing.
If you’re not going to reuse something, let other people reuse it by selling or giving it away. Options for selling items include:
- Yard Sales
- eBay – advice from local eBay seller Amy Weintraub suggests only selling something on eBay if it is worth over $100 – otherwise you spend a lot of time posting online, packaging, and posting the items for not much return.
- Wertz Brothers, who buy high-end furniture (located in Santa Monica).
There you have it! Sort your stuff, responsibly deal with the excess, and you’re one big step out of clutter and into calm.
Have questions about the TRACKS categories? Add them to the comments below and I’ll help you out!
I always love a new organizing acronym, and this one works!
Haha, I’m glad you like the acronym Hazel! I sure like making them : )
Track is a great acronym. Let’s make TRACKs and get this space organized. Let’s TRACK down the best way to use this space. Let me help you stay on TRACK. I am a little off TRACK with these tag lines. I like your statement, “The point is to deliberately choose what’s in your garage, instead of having all or nothing.” Sometimes people think everything is clutter because they have been told they should have less. I think clutter is items that don’t have a storage place, you don’t use or you don’t want them.
Those are great metrics for defining clutter, Julie!