Spring Cleaning: What Do I Do with This?

spring cleaning

Happy spring, readers! I hope you’ve been able to spend some time outdoors and are enjoying the warmer temperatures and beautiful blooming trees and flowers. Spring is a great time to get outside, but it’s also a great time to declutter and clean! Have you felt the urge to do some spring cleaning?

If you do a thorough job of decluttering, you’ll likely end up with a whole lot of things you don’t need. For most of these items, deciding what to do with them is relatively easy. Those that aren’t worthy of donating may need to be just thrown into the trash or recycling container. Of the items that are in good enough shape to donate, the majority can be taken to the local donation center of your choice. But there are quite a few items that are a little more problematic. You may not be able to simply drop these special items into the trash can or the recycling container. They may require some sort of preparation to properly dispose of them. Some items may not be accepted at donation centers for various reasons. This article provides pointers for these special cases. This list is by no means exhaustive. I couldn’t include every special case or every Tri-Cities location, but this will at least give you some options.

We are fortunate that two special cleanup events are just around the corner! For Kingsport City residents, April 1-12 is the annual spring clean-up service. During this time, you can place extra items on the curb for garbage crews to haul away. Items included in this free service include: appliances, tires (limit of 4, off the rim), furniture, small amounts of building materials, yard debris, mattresses, bagged grass, bagged or loose leaves, brush, and general junk.

For Sullivan County residents, the biannual Sullivan County Hazardous Waste Collection day is on Saturday, May 4th from 9am to 1pm at the Sullivan Central High School parking lot. The following items will be accepted: automotive and marine products (fuel, oil, solvents, fluids, antifreeze), home improvement products (strippers, thinners, adhesives, sealants, tar), lawn and garden products (pesticides, fertilizers) and miscellaneous products (pool chemicals, photo processing chemicals, mercury thermostats and thermometers, fluorescent tubes/bulbs, aerosols).

Paint is not accepted at the Hazardous Waste Collection, but it can be easily disposed of at home with this method: use cat litter or packets of paint hardener to solidify the paint, then simply place the paint cans into the trash. Other items that require special disposal include batteries (can be taken to Batteries Plus or Lowe’s), light bulbs (can be taken to Lowe’s), and plastic bags (can be recycled at Walmart, Food City, or Kroger). Medication (either prescription or over the counter) should not be thrown into the trash can, poured down the drain or flushed in the toilet. Drop boxes for proper disposal are located at the Justice Center in downtown Kingsport and at the Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office in Blountville.

A few categories of items are more difficult because many donation centers don’t accept them. Baby items such as car seats, strollers, and bouncer seats have strict rules that prevent many organizations from accepting them. They can, however, be accepted at Hope House (maternity home and crisis pregnancy resource center) in Kingsport (call for specific requirements and available space). Household cleaners and personal care items are usually accepted at homeless shelters like Hope Haven Ministries in Kingsport or Oasis (a women’s ministry in Kingsport). Oasis also accepts laundry supplies and donations of pre-packaged snacks and individual microwave frozen meals. Some medical and dental equipment is accepted by Healing Hands Health Center in Bristol, Hope Community Church (multiple locations), and Shepherd Center in Kingsport. Unopened and unexpired medications are accepted at Friends in Need in Kingsport. For the medical supplies, it’s best to call beforehand to make sure they can be accepted. Pet supplies and food and old linens are accepted at animal shelters.

Used electronics are a rapidly increasing form of waste. Of One Accord Ministry accepts donations of working electronics for their thrift store. Goodwill has a program called E-cycle which is dedicated to reusing or recycling computer and other electronic components instead of discarding them. You can also drop off old electronics at the Kingsport Transfer Station.

There are a few items that are accepted at donation centers, but you may want to choose a different destination to benefit a specific group of people. Used working cell phones can be donated to Cell Phones for Soldiers. There are local drop-off locations, or they can be mailed. Prom dresses can be donated to the YWCA in Bristol or Becca’s Closet; these dresses are given to young women who might not be able to afford them. Eyeglasses can be dropped off at many vision centers, including Walmart, LensCrafters in the Fort Henry Mall, and others. They are picked up by Lions Club International, which repairs and cleans them to donate to the needy. New or gently used shoes can be taken to Fleet Feet (given to organizations that benefit the needy locally) or mailed to Soles4Souls (benefit the needy in developing countries). Toy donations can be given to Marine Corps Toys for Tots for distribution (see website for specifics). Old vehicles can be donated to the Make-A-Wish East Tennessee, which benefits children who are facing critical illnesses or to the National Kidney Foundation, which benefits patients with kidney disease.

What if an item is too large for you to deliver for donation, such as appliances, building materials, or furniture? Many organizations will schedule donation pickups, including Salvation Army, Habitat for Humanity, Goodwill, Good Samaritan Ministries. If you have a trash item too large to put in your trash container, you can call to schedule pickup through the Kingsport Sanitation department. If you have a large amount of items that are mostly junk, there are even companies such as JDog Junk Removal and Hauling that can pick it up, dispose of it properly with minimal distribution to the landfill, and clean up afterwards.

With all of these resources at your disposal, I hope you’re feeling motivated and ready to do some spring cleaning. Feel free to email me with questions or if you would like my help. Decluttering is my specialty!

Happy organizing!


I Love NAPO!


From Thursday, April 4 to Sunday, April 7, Laurie and I were thrilled to meet with hundreds of professional organizers from around the country (and around the world) for the annual convention of NAPO (National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals) in Fort Worth, Texas. What an amazing weekend! I attended presentations on topics as diverse as “From IDEA to Death Cleaning: Swedish Concepts in Organizing”, “Let’s Make a Shidduch” (I bet you’re curious about that one!), “Tech Tools for Writing”, “Branding and Monetizing Your Business”, and “Helping Clients Identify the Value in their Objects” and many more. We discussed tips that work well for our businesses and how to best meet all of our clients’ needs. We ate a lot, laughed at our obsessive tendencies, and enjoyed being with likeminded people. We even danced to 80’s music together! Although organizers tend to be a very serious and focused group that is  passionate about order, we also love to have fun!

NAPO has been invaluable from before I even launched Shipshape Solutions. I have learned so much from not only the conferences, but also the online classes, the daily email and Facebook discussions, online classes, and consulting with other NAPO organizers. NAPO gives me a standard of quality and exemplary ethics in all aspects of my business and gives me all of the tools and encouragement I need to deliver excellent organizing services. I can’t wait to share the ideas I learned at the NAPO conference with my clients.

*By the way, in case you can’t read it, our matching shirts say, “Fill your life with adventures. Have stories to show, not stuff to show.” Laurie and I are passionate about this concept. We have seen our clients enjoy the freedom that can come from living clutter-free, and we want to help more people achieve that goal.