Reusing and organizing

by Jan 21, 2020

Organizing and Reclaiming

Well, despite my best intentions, sometimes I fall back into collection mode.  I have learned that the best way for me to handle that is to recognize that it just a slight misstep and doesn’t have to mean that I revert to previous patterns.  One of the strategies that I have learned is to not let this slip discourage or undo progress but to face it head on  before it spreads.

Take the example of my  t-shirt collection.  I mainly wear T-shirts with logos or messages only when I am doing some work in the workshop or yard.  However, I continue to accumulate them through challenges and volunteer projects with the result that even though I clear periodically and don’t buy T-Shirts, this is an area that demands regular attention.  It is again at a point when my drawers are overly full and need attention. I keep this collection in a small 3-drawer dresser in our guest room and it is looking over crowded.  It is time for a quick clean.   Today was a cold and grey day so it was a perfect time for that task.  I set the timer for 30 minutes.


Time to do some reducing and organizing. Selecting a specific area, like a set of drawers, is manageable in a short time. A perfect 30 minute project.

It can be difficult to let go of some of these the accumulated T-Shirts because, as I mentioned, they typcially have been collected at events and, therefore, stand as testament to some affiliation or achievement.  Knowing what to do with them can also be a block to reducing and when I have thought of donating them, I think that they wouldn’t really have meaning for anyone not connected to the same event.  As I was sorting through, however, I realized that some still held strong positive memories but many, not so much.  I dedicated an hour to these three drawers, set an alarm, and determined to work quickly (not my forte) and get a start on the reduction.


Repurposed materials

I decided to cut the logos/images off the T-Shirts that were valuable memories but no longer worn.  I’ll collect them up and make something of them in the future.  Perhaps a quilt or wall hanging.  In the meantime, I drastically reduce the space required AND still have the reminder of the associated event.  I cut the rest of the shirts into strips for rags for the workshop and garden shed, where they will be put to good use.  An unexpected bonus of this approach is that some of the well worn shirts would not lastmuch longer and this way the most important part of the story is preserved.



Preparing to cut logos and images. When I have enough collected pieces with sufficient variety, I will make these into a memory quilt.


I turned this stack of shirts… 








…. to this collection of images and pile of rags.


Cutting 15 shirts to small squares for saving and strips for use as rags. NOTE: This process took 15 minutes beyond the original 30-minute timer; I had the time and wanted to finish this piece.  If that was not the case, could have put this in my to finish basket for small projects in case I have a small block of time.







New Project

I also set aside 10 golf shirts with company logos.  I plan to cover the logos with a patch or design of some type so I can wear or donate them.  I didn’t have the time to begin that today so I took the shirts that I removed from the drawers and put them in a basket on a shelf in my closet marked “30 minute projects”.

Improved Organizations

I reduced the number of shirts in the drawers dramatically, leaving only ones that I continue to wear when I exercise or do work around the house or garden.


I put clothes that no longer fit or suit, as well as a number of T-shirts that I realized didn’t really have an emotional attachment but are still in good shape – in a bag to donate  While I was at it, I collected some items already set aside for that purpose and bagged those up too.

Result – 1 1/2 garbage bags of clothes and a bag of bed clothes taken out to the car to drop at Value Village on my next trip to the city.

Time well spent

In less than hour, I cleared some space in the drawers.  I do have another small collectin of shirts that are in a plastic bin with off-seasonal clothes.   Maybe I’ll put some unused T-Shirts back in rotation – or perhaps I’ll just take the plunge and donate some or cut  as logos or rags or donate.

What is your T-shirt strategy?

Do you have  a T-shirt collection?  What do you do with T-Shirts from runs, school events or promotional activities?  Do you wear them regularly?  Use them for night shirts? Donate them?  Discard them?  Share any suggestions in the comments.

Mary Elizabeth O'Toole

Mary Elizabeth O'Toole

Educator, Artist, Storyteller


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