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Pandemic Sparks Homeowners’ ‘Purging Tsunami’

Goodwill rented warehouse space to store an uptick in donations and trash companies are thriving as stuck-at-home owners clean up their spaces.

WASHINGTON – The pandemic forced more Americans to spend extra time at home, and homeowners responded by decluttering and taking part in a “purging tsunami,” The Washington Post reports.

“People are feeling their spaces right now,” says Gretchen Rubin, author of nine books about decluttering. “Some people feel like nesting and just want to paint everything. Others feel claustrophobic. Many have figured out they need more elbow room. Some are thinking, ‘I don’t want to waste something I’m not using. I want to put it back out in the world.’”

Many homeowners are cleaning out storage rooms in their house to make space for a home office. Michael Frohm, chief operating officer for Goodwill of Greater Washington, says his donations have jumped 20% over the last year, and they’ve rented temporary warehouses to store the extra donations.

Homeowners realized they “didn’t want all that stuff in back of them during a Zoom call,” Frohm says. “They were forced to clear it out.”

But how do you get rid of everything during a pandemic? Yard sales are uncommon right now, some charity donation drop-off centers remain closed, and some municipalities limit bulk trash collection. As a result, some homeowners rented dumpsters and tossed things out. Others went online and tried to sell items to earn some extra money.

Washington, D.C.-based 1-800-Got-Junk reported a huge surge in business since April.

“As waste removal, we were considered an essential business,” says Claudine Rubin, owner of the D.C. franchise of 1-800-Got-Junk. “Many dumps were closed to the public, and bulk pickup was suspended in a lot of areas. You couldn’t make donations. That’s where we got our spike.”

Source: “The Great Decluttering of 2020: The Pandemic Has Inspired a Cleanout of American Homes,” The Washington Post (Aug. 5, 2020)

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