Decluttering in Isolation? Here's What to Do (and NOT do) With Your Stuff

The photos in this post are from the Ottawa and Trenton area. I'll be surveilling Kingston this week to see if we have the same issue and will call for backup. This is why the message needs to be spread far and wide—it's happening in multiple cities across Canada. Can you help me, help Diabetes Canada spread the word?


To anyone reading this who doesn't normally follow me, please know I care passionately about the planet a bit more than people, because not all people even care about the planet. I feel personally attacked anytime I see a photo like this because I just don't understand how anyone can think it's okay to leave their stuff for someone else to clean up. If you'd like to get straight to the point of this post, you'll want to scroll past the photos in the middle of this post to get to the actionable stuff. Right now, I just need to vent...

I've been taking a break from social media but every time I pop on to respond to a message—these photos are the first ones I see. It happened last week on Facebook, so I spoke about it briefly. It happened the week before on Instagram, so I shared a few stories.

And then it happened again today, the first image I saw as I opened up the Instagram app: a sad looking Diabetes Donation bin surrounded by donations that seem to be uncared for, not even properly disposed (your items need to be in a garbage bag or a closed box), littered all over the ground.

Part of me feels like it's my responsibility to educate others on how to responsibly dispose of their clothing because it's part what I do for a living, but honestly? I didn't think I would need to spread such common sense in the middle of a pandemic.

Because here's the thing: a lot of people who have free time are decluttering and purging their homes right now. A lot of people think it's the perfect time, and I disagree for a few reasons.

Right now, there's more collective grief in the world than there ever has been.

Right now, a lot of us are more emotional and in a state a survival than we've ever been.

Right now, a lot of us are making decisions to help us cope.

Right now, our realities are a little skewed and we don't dress as we normally do or use the things we normally do.

Right now, there is no where that can accept our donations.

Thrift, charity and consignment stores are closed.

Donation centres and bins are also closed and items are no longer being picked up.

Which means, there's no where open for you donate your clothes right now.

So, why am I seeing areas where donation bins are located, littered with donations, all across Canada?

Why do people leave their unwanted items outside of donation bins, even though there are signs that kindly ask you not to?

Why do people continue to take their unwanted items to donation bins, even though, in the wake of a pandemic, they’ve kindly asked us to stop because they’re overwhelmed?

I understand that there can be some exceptions to this, and I always try my best to give others the benefit of the doubt. But because I've been donating for so long, I've met the guy who doesn't give a shit and I know he exists. So I really don’t think all of these instances are the exception and that’s why I feel so passionately about speaking up.

THIS IS NOT OKAY. This time is extra challenging for these non-profits because not only are they not raising any money, but they’re expensing a lot of it having to pay for all these bins to be cleaned. Just for Kingston last week, over 1800 lbs had to be sent to the dump.⁣⁣⁣⁣

Diabetes Canada needs our help to raise awareness about dumping at their donation bins. They've developed this open letter to share with your provincial & municipal community leaders. Please help us spread the word to pause donations (for now) and please stop dumping! You can read the open letter here.

So, what should you do with the things you declutter during quarantine?

If you're going to be purging and decluttering your home and your closets, there is ONE option I can think of for offloading these items safely during a pandemic: YOU KEEP THEM.


Because any other option would encourage people to leave their homes or damage the environment that we're currently trying to protect.

  • If you have extra space in your home, like a basement or attic, I recommend you set up a holding area where you keep bags or bins of stuff you want to get rid of.