Tuesday 8 March 2016

Do I Really Need All This STUFF?

Decluttering is an often used word nowdays, but what does it actually mean? According to the Oxford dictionary:
Decluttering: Removing unnecessary items from (an untidy or overcrowded place).
Unnecessary: More than is needed; excessive.
Like most people in the Western world, I have many, many more possessions than I require. Should I join the trend and get rid of everything I have that is just a want and not a need?

What does this picture tell you? Ha, ha... yes, I shop at Spotlight sometimes (equivalent to Jo-Anns). Even though I don't like to admit it, I do sometimes accept plastic bags at the checkout. There's a set of reusable bags in the car, but try as I might, I don't always remember to grab them and actually take them inside the shops.

Whilst I admire those who live a minimalist lifestyle, I don't know that I could give up all the luxuries that I take for granted. My computer - I couldn't live without it, but perhaps I don't need the latest and biggest. The TV - yeah, I would happily not have one, but Mr TMW wouldn't see it the same way. My iPhone - too handy to ditch, but I'm not racing to upgrade my old 3G, as it does the job.

Electronic devices are a big environmental problem, but they are now such an integral part of our lives. Consumers rush to buy the latest and greatest, so of course, the manufacturers are going to supply that demand.

When we were kids, technology moved at a much slower pace. My parents had a large radiogram, that enabled us to listen to the radio and play 78s (records). Much later on came one black and white TV, one portable radio and also a record player for LPs, EPs and 45s. When we were teenagers we given our own trannies (transistor radios) and had the use of a tape recorder to copy songs from the radio.

And a phone, yes, my parents got a phone when we were in our teens.  That phone was of course a landline attached to the wall with a cable long enough to enable the phone to be taken around the corner and into the bathroom, so we could have some privacy while ringing friends.

Those single items were the extent of technology for the first twenty years of my life. Things were made to last and we were not bombarded with ads telling us what we were missing out on.

Don't get me wrong - I don't want to go back to those years, but my childhood years were not ones of keeping up with the Jones. Yes, I wanted a tranny when my friends had them, but that one treasured little radio lasted me for all my teenage years.

I'm sure lots of nasties went into the production of the electronic gear back then, but there just wasn't the same volume as now.

I had no intention of talking about electronic items when I began this post, so let's get back to my original plan.

I have slowly begun to give away things I no longer use - mainly clothes and linen. Seriously, there's enough woollen blankets in this house to keep several large families warm. I find it hard to get rid of things - I keep them, just in case. There's this feeling that it's wasteful to get rid of items that I may have to re-buy at some point in the future. I've lived long enough to see many fashion trends reappear decades after they first appeared.

Thing is, do I really have to keep up with the fashion? No!!! I've decided that it's time I dressed to suit my figure and to develop my own style. Enough of others dictating what I'll wear. Sure, if I like the fashion and it suits, I'll adopt it, but not otherwise.

The photo above shows half of my wardrobe AFTER the latest cull. I've found that it's useless to try to do it all at once and so I've been reducing the number of clothes for a few months now. When I began, the coat hangers were jam packed together.

Yesterday I attacked the blanket box which contains all my knitted tops. There's jumpers and cardigans in there that I haven't worn for many, many years - beautiful woollen jumpers.

Why do I keep them when I don't wear them?
  • too good to give away
  • I might wear them one day
  •  what if....
I was keeping some things simply because I liked the way they used to look. Thing is, I no longer have clothes to match them with and so they sit there. 

Well, yesterday I was ruthless. The photo below shows the pile I'm donating to an Op Shop. OK, so that teal one on top is 100% wool and I love the colour, but I've only worn it once or twice because it actually doesn't look good on me. The two pure wool, cable knit cardigans top right - yes, lovely and warm and I love the wool, but they just don't fit under any of my coats, as they're too bulky.

They're all bagged up ready to donate. The top photo of items to give away was taken before the knitted garments were added. There's a few long, slimline cardigans I've kept that I ummed and arred about. Maybe they'll go with the next cull, but for now, I've freed up heaps of room in the blanket box.

It feels good to be able to see at a glance what's in my wardrobe, drawers and blanket box. Who knows why I call it a blanket box when it doesn't contain blankets.

In recent days I've also been through the linen cupboard. Several of those blankets will now be able to keep needy families warm in the coming Winter months. The spare room has had a good clean out, too, as has the kids' dress up box. Lots of the dress up clothes were old clothes to start with, and some have now been cut up to use as rags.

So far I haven't missed anything I've given away in the past, and I'm almost certain that will be the case this time. It feels good. There's space in cupboards and drawers and I can see under the bed in the spare room. Means I'll be able to vacuum under there.

In the past I've culled clothes as an excuse to buy more, but not now. Sure, I'll buy more clothes in the future, or maybe even make some, but I'm hoping to do away with the buy, buy, buy attitude. Just because I like it doesn't mean I HAVE to have it.

I have kept some things for sentimental reasons and that's good, but there's a limit. The batwing top will remain in my possession until the day I die, even though it hasn't been worn for a while. It's a bit hard to see, but the stripe is a silver and I mainly use it for evening wear. Yes, it's old fashioned with the batwing sleeves, the long cuffs and the wide waistband, but you'd expect a garment made in the 1930s to be a little dated. It belonged to my Godmother and she would have loved to know I still have it. Maybe I just need to update my black pants to suit the top.

I think the hard thing is knowing where to draw the line. It's OK to have items that are not needed - little luxuries add something to life. Funny thing is, when there's too many luxuries that are taken for granted, they stop adding to life and actually start to detract.

I'm going to continue to declutter, bit by bit. Maybe I should tackle my sewing room next. Hmmm.... that's a hard one.

If you are looking to declutter, 10 Creative Ways to Declutter Your Home may help. I haven't followed the links and haven't used anyone else's method myself. I started small and found that with each cull, I was prepared to let more go.

I'd love to hear your thoughts or reactions to this post...

... Pam


  1. Hubby has now admitted that we'll probably downsize "eventually" - both kids are now out of the house so 4 bedrooms + 2 1/2 baths is a lot of room for 2 people :D I've been decluttering upstairs for a while now, very slowly. It's the sewing room that needs the most work, but I think it'll need to be stretched out over several years. And I'm OK with that, LOL!

  2. Wait a minute! I almost bought a bat wing shirt pattern just yesterday from Named Clothing. Perhaps they've been out long enough to come back in again.

    Jumpers and cardigans??? I thought I had the British/Canadian/Aussie definitions figured out, but apparently not! I thought jumpers were cardigans in your world. Jumpers here are a sleeveless dress that requires a top underneath. So, you can imagine my confusion when I first read that someone's husband was wearing a jumper. Is a jumper a vest maybe??

  3. A top made in the 30's! Oh it is gorgeous! I would keep it and treasure it too. I find I don't keep stuff, unless it is sewing related. After our baby was born I had to 'downsize' - move into the dining area, so I had to clean out a lot of stuff! I took a lot of fabric (mostly quilting cotton I purchased when I first started sewing) to an op shop and it made me feel free. I am now also paying more attention to my patterns buying habits. Just because a pattern I like is on sale does not mean I NEED it now. I think I will actually save money if I buy full priced patterns the day I am going to piece them together and start sewing. In fact, I challenged myself to use at least one free pattern a month! I find it funny that sewing is the only aspect of my life where I 'keep' things. I have no trouble letting go of anything else.

  4. I started looking in my closet the other day too Pam. Your memories of your childhood take me back to mine as well. I remember our rotary phone and we had a "party" line, which meant it wasn't just our phone line. You would pick it up and it might already be in use by another family. I couldn't even use the phone without asking permission. Now all 3 of our children skype or facetime with their friends on their own phones. We don't even have a landline in our home...not with 5 phones already in the house--crazy! I've starting going through my closet because a lot of what I have made no longer fits. :( I'm going to donate, but if anything contains a lot of buttons, that item will be recycled. I'm trying to sew smarter. How many outfits does one need? I never have been one for trends, so I too am looking at what is it that I really want to wear.

  5. I have been really working on this! I just got done going through some clothes that were given to me and I am going to really have to purge to make room for them. I have been going through the whole house - only 3 rooms in so far- and have gotten rid of about 12 garbage bags full of stuff! I am doing 40 Bags in 40 Days- loosely. We have the largest thrift store in the US just a few miles from my house. It helps to remember that if I really want something to match or for an upcycle project, I can probably find it there instead of storing so much here. I was looking through old pictures recently and noticed how much cleaner my house used to be. We had half as many kids then, but we had MUCH less "Stuff" crammed in here, too. The less we have the less I have to clean up! I have also been behaving with my fabric and craft shopping, too! Great job with your decluttering! It feels great, doesn't it?

  6. Ahhhh....but you could felt that 100% teal wool sweater and remake it into a bag or.....lol

  7. Pam, you've got me all fired up to go through my boxes of old clothes and just start throwing stuff out. We move every few years, so the entire house gets culled regularly, but nonetheless, I have boxes of clothes I haven't worn in years that I just keep lugging around because I can't buy clothes here in Japan (too small). Those clothes don't fit or are outdated now so I need to take your advice and just be ruthless. I'm sure I won't miss them when they are gone.

  8. For Several years now i have been sewing `new` summer dresses from my old summer skirts and from left over pieces of former sewing projects. Feels great. I also invited some Sewing friends to take cloth pieces from my collections. As to my sweaters i am a knitter and i knit myself Pure wool clothes, as i can not wear Synthetic threads' thus all my knits are worn by me until they start to unravel. I use my Coolected materials and make presents for friends' matchinhg each with an item she likes , This is a good feeliong for both them and me,
    PAM you are an inspiration ,,,,

  9. Ok, that does it!! I start in the morning to do my own culling! You've given me some great ideas to start with. Thanks for sharing!

  10. Last year I stumbled across some blogs such as Project 333 and Unfancy and reading through them inspired me to throw out about 2/3 of my wardrobe. There were hard moments but I promised myself if I missed something too much I could go and buy a replacement. In truth, I haven't looked back. I don't miss any of it and I loved having so much space in my wardrobe. It was also a lot easier to keep organised. Good luck with your decluttering - I promise you'll feel lighter once it's done!

  11. Oh dear, something I very much need to do! And it's extremely lucky I don't live near you because I'd be round like a shot to take your woolens off your hands! Well done with yours. Maybe I'll start small and see where it leads...

  12. So proud of you Pam. It really is hard to start decluttering. I started doing that, bit by bit a few years ago. Every couple of months I declutter my clothes and shoes, and also other parts of my life. Recently I tackled my pantry and kitchen, I was left with drawers and shelves completely empty and I felt so good about it. I also decluttered some of my fabric scraps, and other crafty supplies. It even made my sewing mood get better... once you start, you'll never go back.

  13. I have really been trying to work on this these past few weeks, especially with my closet, but it is so hard! Most of my wardrobe is handmade so I find it difficult to let go of clothes I have made even if I don't like wearing it. The warmer spring weather we've been having here is motivating me - if I can declutter my closet I can make something new for spring.

  14. I could have written this myself - you have put into words exactly how I feel about stuff, clutter, decluttering, this whole "spark joy" thing, the "what if it will be useful one day" dilemma!
    I also have a big pile of "this will be useful material/good for a refashion" stuff I never wear. I have wondered about trying just not buying any new clothes for a year and see how that works out, I'm not super fashionable so I don't think anyone would notice!
    My last thought is that top from your Grandma, wear it! - it's lovely, it's retro not dated, you could wear it with black capri trousers and a long silvery necklace, it would look fab. Or maybe a silver or light grey pencil skirt....

  15. Way to go! There is something so freeing about being able to reduce the clutter in our homes. It's amazing though how our stuff can have a hold on us, even when we know we don't really need it anymore. Often I found I was holding onto stuff for those "just in case" moments that never came. That helped me cross the hurdle and really start simplifying life. Thanks for sharing your journey. Always inspiring.

    1. Once I started, it really did become easier and easier, Victoria. Still a way to go, though. And it was the ... keep it just in case... that I found the hardest to overcome. Thanks for adding to the discussion.

  16. I declutter every year when I do my spring cleaning. I don't know how I accumulate so much in just a year. Thank you for sharing it on the Creative Muster. We loved it so much that we’re pinning it to our Creative Muster Favorites board. I hope that’ll we’ll be seeing more of your great ideas.

  17. I did the Kon Mari decluttering of my clothes last year and, to my surprise, my clothes are still Kon Mari style organised! For me, it made the whole decluttering process so much easier. Guilt free. Loved it. Blogged about it, as you do. I promised myself I would do my office supplies and office ... but ... well, I haven't got around to it. Too busy sewing.

    1. LOL... can totally relate to putting sewing before decluttering, Libby.


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