Decluttering in preparation for the Great Glebe Garage sale

Article by Martha Tobin published by the April issue of the Glebe Report

The Great Glebe Garage Sale is happening this year on May 27 (8 am -2pm).  This much-loved neighbourhood event is a wonderful opportunity to do some decluttering in your home in anticipation of the sale.   

Our homes are supposed to be our sanctuaries – the place where we can recharge and relax.   But when we have an excess of ‘stuff’, it weighs us down and fences us in thereby keeping us from feeling in control of our lives.   Decluttering is a wonderful way to take back control of your life by purging those items you no longer need, use, want or love.  

As you look around your home here is a quick and easy ‘5 Box method’ for sorting items:

Gather 5 boxes together and label them:

#1.  Items to sell

#2.  Items to trash, shred or recycle (ie. documents, old electronics)

#3.  Items that belong elsewhere in your home (ie. child’s homework)

#4.  Items that need to be returned (ie. borrowed book) 

#5.  The ‘Maybe’ items (ie. diplomas, awards)

This 5 box method will allow you to easily and quickly sort items in your home to determine the items you want to sell at the Great Glebe Garage sale (as well as knowing which items belong elsewhere in your home or need to be returned to someone else thereby not getting put out mistakenly on the day of the sale).

Typically items that are often of interest at the Great Glebe Garage Sale are furniture, small appliances, collectibles, sport items, clothing, LP’s, books, linens, art, dishware, jewelry, toys, etc.  

Below is some information that will help keep your expectations realistic as well as align with the expectations of buyers that day:

  1. Set up early so that you are prepared for the early birds.
  2. Price items individually or in groups (ie. bundle of comics for $0.50)
  3. Display items on tables or in boxes according to their category or price (ie. all scarves $0.75 each)
  4. Have a secure/out of sight cash box or apron with lots of coins and bills for change.
  5. Test the market demand as the day goes along and reduce prices accordingly.   Items at the right price sell better.
  6. If you have larger items that can’t be carted away by the buyer until later, tuck them out of sight and have an impromptu sales receipt available so that you can note the deposit given and exchange phone numbers to coordinate future pick up. 
  7. Working items in good condition sell.  Damaged, unworking items don’t.  (If you still think an item that is damaged or not functioning is sellable, be sure to note its condition clearly on the item so buyers are aware.)
  8. At the end of the day tidy up and pack your things away.  Recycle as much as possible.
  9. Check out the Glebe Community Association link regarding where you can donate items that didn’t sell.  Donating helps others in need in our community and diverts items from going directly into landfill sites.  
  10. Since 1986 the Great Glebe Garage sale has encouraged vendors to voluntarily donate 10% of their proceeds to the Ottawa Food Bank.  You can find more details here).

Spring is a particularly good time to declutter as many of us feel energized at this time of year with the better weather and warmer temperatures. And most of us already associate this time of year with spring cleaning.  

With the Great Glebe Garage sale just around the corner, there is no better time to let go of those items that are cluttering up your home.   If the thought of doing some decluttering on your own is overwhelming, reach out for some help at

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Areas to Declutter in 15 minutes (as published by Martha Tobin in OSCAR March edition)

Life is busy.  Too busy.  So although we have the best of intentions, finding the time to declutter a whole room can be difficult and overwhelming. 

One less daunting way to declutter is to choose areas you can tackle in 15 minutes such as ones like these: 

-Kitchen island 

-bathroom countertop

-desk surface

-bedroom dresser 

-boots/shoes in front hall closet

Each area above is considered a ‘prime real estate’ location.  Items in these areas should only be those that you use daily as frequency of use determines degree of accessibility.   If items in these areas are used only weekly, monthly or seasonally, consider storing them in a less accessible location so they don’t clutter up this prime location. 

By doing 15 minute decluttering sessions, these little wins pave the way for bigger wins.  As well they help you feel a sense of accomplishment and keep you motivated to continue to tackle other areas. 

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Decluttering to start the new year off right:

“You can’t get there from here
But if you prepare the here,
There comes here.” (A. Hicks)

Organizing and Decluttering your spaces and rooms is a great way to take control of
your new year and bring back into focus your dreams and goals for yourself.
Here are some tips and tricks to help you get there:
● As you pack away your holiday decorations, determine your favourites. Let
go of those that you no longer love, want or need. Take a photo to keep the
memory of these items and then donate them or start a box for your children’s
future homes.
● Keep in mind the ‘one in, one out rule’. For each of the gifts you received
this holiday season, let something else of that size or greater go so that you
can respect the equilibrium of space in your home. Donate or give these
items to a family member or friend who could use them.
● If you received gifts that you really won’t use, donate them and let
someone else enjoy them. For options on where to donate them, check out
● Take a walk around your home and let go of those items that no longer add
to your life (ie. the duplicates, clothes you no longer wear, art that you’ll never
put up, kitchen gadgets that you never use, excess linens, old tech items,
unmatched tupperware, etc).
● Set up a donation bin or box in your home. Make it easily accessible and
make it a habit to drop excess or unwanted items into it.
Remember that when you clear out items that you no longer need, use, love or want you
become more clear and more focused on those things and goals that matter to you now.
Life is short. Get rid of the excess and start truly enjoying your ‘now’ and your dreams for
the year to come.

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Letting go of expensive items:

Do you have items that you spent a lot of money on but that didn’t live up to your expectations?  By letting them go you can focus on those items that remain and that truly are your treasures. Benefits of letting go of expensive items you don’t use:#1. With the holiday season around the corner perhaps consider gifting or donating these items. Or sell the item (so someone else can have it in time for the holidays.)#2. By letting go of items you don’t use or want you’ll have more focus on your life goals with less distraction.#3. You’ll immediately gain back valuable space.#4. You’ll increase your mental well-being by removing the bad feelings associated with these unused purchases.
Remember no one talks about their material possessions with their last breath. Be selective and keep the things you love and use.  Going through life with intention and lightening your load whenever you can is always beneficial. 

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Donation places in Ottawa:

What a lovely surprise finding myself in an article in the August edition of the Glebe Report!

The article highlights the Great Glebe Garage Sale and an initiative that was a collaboration between Della Wilkinson and Kate Reekie from the GCA Environment Committee, GNAG and City staff at the Glebe Community Centre, with input from me on some of the charitable organizations where items can be donated (you can find the full article on page 13:…/Glebe-Report-August-19…

Below are some of the donation places mentioned:

Caldwell Family Centre:

Charity Wish List


Diabetes Canada

Dress for Success:

Friends of the Ottawa Public Library Association:

From House to Home:

Habitat for Humanity

Hakim Optical:

Heartwood House:

Helping with Furniture:

Highjinx: Neighbours Helping Neighbours


Ottawa Outdoor Gear Library:

Ottawa Tool Library:

Resettlement Resource Service Volunteers 613-791-3877 (Paul)

Salvation Army:

Secondhand Stories:

The Well:

Twice Upon a Time:

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Organizing and Decluttering a GARAGE:

#1.  Pick a day where you can take everything out of your garage.

#2.  Lay out all the items on your driveway or lawn.

#3.  As you bring items out from the garage, sort the items into

       categories (ie. gardening, tools, sports, holiday decorations,

       luggage, car accessories, lawn and snow equipment, toys, etc).

#4.  Review items in each of these categories and determine the

       items that you want to keep, items that are trash/recycle, items

       that you are able to donate/sell, items you have duplicates of,


#5.  Working with the ‘keep’ items, determine how much you have in

       each category and then set up zones for those categories.

       Items that are used the most often should be in the most

       accessible zones.

#6.  Install additional shelving, hooks and (clear) bins as needed

       so that you can find ‘homes’ for the items you are keeping.

#7.  Label your bins – masking tape and a sharpie work great!

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Getting Started-Organizing & Decluttering made easy

Getting started

  • Pick a small space (ie. nightstand, drawer, pantry, etc.)
  • Have 5 boxes at the ready: 
  1. items that belong elsewhere or to someone else in the home 
  2. items that belong to someone outside the home
  3. ”maybe” items
  4. items to donate/sell
  5. items for trash/recycle
  • take all items out of the area you want to declutter
  • sort items into your 5 boxes.  NOTE: for the ‘maybe’ items put them in a box and date the box.  Review in 3 to 6 months.  If you’ve not needed those items in that time, consider donating them
  • now working with the items you have left, determine if those items are used daily, weekly or monthly and then assign them areas in your based on their frequency of use
  • in the area you are working on, consider using bins, shelf risers, drawer dividers etc to keep ‘like with like’ items together. 

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How and Where to Donate your Stuff. (as seen in the Glebe report )written by Martha Tobin

How and where to donate your stuff

Dear Martha,

My husband and I are going to be downsizing to a two-bedroom retirement residence in January. In anticipation of this move, we have started decluttering our current four-bedroom home and realize we have too much stuff! We would like to donate much of it, but we don’t know where we can take our books, CDs, clothing and linens.

We also have some working electronics that we would like to donate (i.e., a couple of old laptops, a monitor, keyboards and a fax machine).

Where can we take items like these and know they will have a second life?

Determined to Donate

Dear Determined,

Thank you very much for making donations a priority as you downsize. By finding homes for items that can have a second life, you are not only diverting them from landfills and helping our planet, but you are also ensuring that others in need in our community have access to them. Thank you very much for making a difference!

There are many charitable organizations in Ottawa that will give your donations a wonderful second life. A site called Charity Wish List ( is a great resource for determining where you can donate items. Just click on their “Find Charities by location and types of items wanted” button and plug in “Ontario and Ottawa” and you’ll get a list of items and where you can take them.

For books, you can reach out to Friends of the Ottawa Public Library, St. Joe’s Women’s Centre, Saint Vincent de Paul, Second Hand Stories, Twice Upon A Time and Ability First Ottawa.

For CDs, you can reach out to Friends of the Ottawa Public Library or Ability First Ottawa. You can also take them to thrift stores like Saint Vincent de Paul, Value Village and Salvation Army.

For clothing and linens, you can donate to Shepherds of Good Hope, Caldwell Family Centre and Big Brothers Big Sisters Ottawa.

For working electronics, you can donate them to Hartwood House, Immigrant Women Services Ottawa, Ottawa Valley Search and Rescue Dog Association and thrift stores like Saint Vincent de Paul and Salvation Army.

To protect your personal information, it’s a good idea to wipe your devices clean before you donate them. You can find out how to do this on the Recycle My Electronics site. (click here!)

For e-waste (electronics that cannot be used again), you can ensure the parts are recycled by bringing them to retailers who participate in a “return to retail” initiative. You can find these authorized locations at the Recycle My Electronics program link (Click here!).

To donate other items like used appliances, baby clothes, magazines, vehicles, food, furniture, musical instruments, pet-related items, sports equipment/sports clothing, office, home and school supplies, new and used toys and other miscellaneous items, you can also refer to the Charity Wish List site.

If you need further help finding a charity for a specific type of item not mentioned in the list, you can email A great resource indeed!

As Aesop said, no act of kindness, however small, is wasted.

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Kudos from the Glebe Zero Waste Committee

Donations That Do Good

By Katie Fice

Martha Tobin is thrilled that her new business not only helps clients get rid of clutter, it also helps the environment by turning up a wealth of unwanted items that are recycled for others to use instead of being dumped in a landfill.

“I love that we transform lives for the better every single day,” says Tobin, who started Room2Breathe, her organizing and decluttering business, in July 2020 when COVID-19 steered her to a career change. Never looking back from that decision, she has helped countless clients throughout the National Capital region to reduce stress and feelings of being overwhelmed by helping them organize and declutter their homes.

“I decided to follow a lifelong passion and pursue organizing and decluttering,” she says. “I love it, and it’s been successful since day one.”

Tobin says the Room2Breathe team is sometimes asked just to declutter a basement, kitchen or garage but it’s often contracted to do an entire house. While helping clients get rid of excess things they no longer want or need, Tobin realized there were many wonderful and worthy items that could have a second life with others who could use them. Through this realization, the Donations That Do Good program was born.

The program decreases the waste sent to the landfill and gives back to the community by donating items clients no longer want to local charities. In many cases, clients are more willing to let things go when they realize it can help someone else through the donation program. “We are proudly committed to making a difference in our clients’ lives as well as in the lives of those in need in our community,” says Tobin. Her enthusiasm for her work and the donation program is obvious.

She explained that due to the challenges of finding places and time to drop off donations, unwanted items removed during decluttering would usually be put out on the curb on garbage day. To avoid that waste, the Room2Breathe team pack up their vehicles at the end of the day and take the items on behalf of their clients to local charities that are looking for those specific items (e.g., clothing, dishes, toys, small appliances, etc.) When there are larger items, like furniture, that Tobin’s team cannot handle, they recommend charities that the client can contact for a pickup.

“Our Donations That Do Good program is a win-win for our clients and our community,” says Tobin, “and it’s also a huge win for our planet in that we ensure that these donated items have a second life and are not going into landfills.” The charities that they can currently donate to are the Ottawa Boys and Girls Club, Immigrant Women Services Ottawa, Caldwell Family Services, CompuCorps, EcoEquitable, Bruevére, Heartwood House, Salvation Army, Diabetes Canada and Habitat for Humanity.

Tobin loves making connections with charities or other organizations that can use the donated items to raise funds or provide them to those in need. Items collected during a recent day of decluttering were donated to a garage sale for a refugee family. All proceeds went to the family, and unsold items were given to Caldwell Family Services. If you are a charity that needs specific items or you know a way the donations could help others, please reach out to Martha Tobin at or 613-868-5197.  To learn more about Room2Breathe and their Donations That Do Good program, check out the website at

If you’ve been making efforts to reduce your waste, we may feature you in a future column. Please send a short paragraph explaining how you are reducing your household or business waste to, attention Katie.

Katie Fice joined the Glebe Community Association’s Zero Waste Committee (a subcommittee of the Environment Committee) to learn about waste reduction and raise awareness of simple changes in our daily living that have a positive impact on the environment.

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