Keep It or Pitch It?

Spring cleaning time is upon us, and with it, the eternal question: should I keep it or pitch it? Indeed, what to do with all of that stuff that somehow always piles up in the basement, attic, or garage?

Keep It or Pitch It
Keep It or Pitch It? Workshop held at the SCHS on April 6, 2017.

To that end, the SCHS recently offered a workshop at the museum titled “Keep It or Pitch It?” This workshop was designed to help people who are in the process of cleaning out a room or a home figure out what they should keep and what they should pitch.

Kathy Klehr, SCHS Executive Director, took on the “keep” portion of the workshop. According to Kathy, items are worth keeping if there is a story attached, or some sort of sentimental value. (This brings to mind Marie Kondo’s book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, which was all the rage a few years ago, and particularly Kondo’s suggestion to keep only those items that “spark joy.”)

mixing bowl
Does your item tell a story? This one does! It was used by the Grommesch & Gerold families on their farm southwest of Marystown beginning in the early 20th century. (From the SCHS collection.)

If you are downsizing in your own home, or helping someone else to downsize, Kathy strongly recommends doing a walk-through of the home with family members in order to determine which items may have special meaning to them. Maybe one of your kids finds great sentimental value in that knick-knack you were planning to give away – better to find out now than after the fact!

Kathy also offered up some tips about how to preserve your “keep” items. (For instance, store photos in acid-free photo sleeves.) If you want to learn more about proper preservation practices, you can always contact the SCHS for advice by email at or  by phone at 952.445.0378.

Stephanie Herrick, Curator of Education, took on the “pitch” portion of the workshop. However, in honor of Earth Day coming up, Stephanie focused on alternative ways to dispose of your “pitch” items rather than tossing them in a dumpster. Her suggestions included:

  • Donate your items – There are a huge number of thrift stores in and around Scott County (Goodwill, CAPS Thrift Store, Bridging, etc.) that will take your donations of clothes, household items, small electronics, etc. Donations are usually tax-deductible! (And don’t forget, if you have an item that helps tell the history of Scott County, the SCHS will accept it for our collection!)
  • Sell your items – Selling your unwanted items has never been easier, now that we have the internet! and Facebook garage sale groups are great go-to websites for selling stuff.
    Wooden darning egg from the early 20th century. These were used in the process of mending fabric. (Photo courtesy of

    Repair your items – As historians, we are always thinking about life long ago. Back in the day, people didn’t have the luxury of constantly replacing items – they had to repair them! You can too, either by taking them to a local repair shop or by giving it a go on your own. Google is your friend in this regard (true story – Stephanie once fixed her car radio by Googling how to do it!).

  • Repurpose your items – Take something you don’t want and turn it into something you do want by getting creative! A few vintage suitcases stacked on top of each other can become a nightstand! Old t-shirts can be sewn together into a new quilt! The possibilities are endless! (You can also check out or if you think someone else might be able to repurpose your items.)
  • Recycle your items – We all know that paper, glass, plastic, and cardboard are recyclable, but did you know you can also recycle shoes, computers, clothes, and carpets? There are TONS of resources online – the Recycling Association of Minnesota ( is a great place to start. Also, most cities in Scott County have a city-wide clean-up day, so check out your city’s website for more information!
  • Pitch responsibly – Do NOT throw your household hazardous waste (medicines, household chemicals, paint, etc.) in the trash. Follow proper guidelines for disposing these items. Scott County residents can learn more here:

Happy Spring Cleaning!!



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