Tips for clearing clutter for the new year

photo The beginning of the new year is a good time time to take your accumulated clutter and toss it, sell it, store it or give it away.

Out with the old. In with the new. What better time is there than the new year for clearing out unwanted items? It's time for a clean sweep. Below are tips on how to take your year-end clutter and toss it, sell it, store it or give it away.

Say goodbye to the Christmas tree

After the lights are taken down and the ornaments are put away, what shall be done with the naked Christmas trees?

Hamilton County Recycling Centers are accepting trees through January. The designated space is outside the gate, so trees may be dropped off at any time. (For locations, see Page E8.) According to a news release, some trees are submerged as fish attractors, while others are chipped into mulch. County residents who wish to acquire mulch for yards or walking trails may pick some up, free of charge, at the Highway Department on Standifer Gap Road. For more information and recycling center locations see

Clean out the closet

January is National Organization Month, and organization often begins with decluttering.

"Everything should have a home, but not everything has to live with you," said Julie Bestry, owner of Chattanooga-based Best Results Organizing. She suggests getting rid of excess possessions by eliminating items that are "no longer age-, size- or lifestyle-appropriate," throwing out holiday cards that do not contain personal messages and tossing back issues of newspapers and magazines.

Toss it

For those who have large amounts to throw away or recycle, services are available to help with that.

Drop-offs can be made at any of the Hamilton County Recycling Centers, or one may arrange to rent recycling bins or Dumpsters by calling a company such as Tennessee Waste Haulers. Some companies can respond as early as the same day.

"We can set up arrangements to pick it up," said Greg Krum, owner of Tennessee Waste Haulers. "We do it all day long."

Services are rendered for a fee - Krum said his average is about $250 - depending on location and amount of discarded materials, but residents can collect rebates on recycled items such as cardboard and scrap metal.

Sell it

To recoup some money while decluttering, sell items on eBay or take them to consignment or resale shops such as McKay on Lee Highway for books, music and movies or Encore Consignment on Hixson Pike or Plato's Closet at Hamilton Place for clothes. A resale store such as Plato's will pay up front at a low rate. Many consignment stores will require items to be freshly laundered and brought in on hangers. Owners will receive a percentage of what each item sells for.

"We don't buy anything," said Sherry Gravitt, owner of Encore. "We only sell on consignment."

Each store will determine individually what price the owner will be paid once an item is sold.

Donate it

Items that linger between trashable and salable are prime for donating. Many organizations around Chattanooga accept gently used items, both large and small, which are given to families in need or can be purchased for a low price.

Clothing, shoes, books, bedding, small appliances, decorative items and more can be donated to Goodwill, which has many locations, Bethel Bible Village Thrift Store, on Hixson Pike, and The Salvation Army Family Store, at Ringgold Road and Belvoir Ave., among others.

Anyone cleaning out a home to prepare for remodeling can donate hard goods - windows, fixtures, building materials and appliances - to the Habitat for Humanity of Greater Chattanooga Area ReStore, 1201 E. Main St.

"There is an awful lot of remodeling going on in our city, and that is primarily the source [of ReStore's stock]," said executive director Pete Palmer.

Donors can receive a donation receipt to be used for tax purposes.

Store it

Bestry suggests acquiring storage containers, such as bins and tubs, to help store items in the home. Once the cleaning out is done, find a home for everything left and make it so things go where they belong. A spokesperson for Target said storage items are on sale through the end of the year.