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Wednesday, 15 January 2014

New Year, new you?

Do you do that thing of making New Year's Resolutions?  If so, what is your resolution for 2014?

Last year, I embarked on a year of "Swishing".  My new year's resolution was this:

  • to give away 2 items of clothing to charity each month, and
  • to not buy any new clothes, but instead buy from charity shops or reuse/recycling shops or websites

Like many people, I often find that within a few weeks I've forgotten all about my new plans and resolution, but not last year.  I cleared out my wardrobe, sorted out plenty to give to charity and not only that, my daughters both cleared out their wardrobes too.   So as far as the first resolution is concerned I smashed that target.

As for the second, not only did I manage to keep to the resolution, I loved doing it too.  I bought quite a few new clothes, but spent less than £100 in the whole year.

I found that both the giving aspect and the buying aspect, spread too.  During the summer holidays, with the assistance of my two daughters, we decided to embark on a big sort out.  We set ourselves the target of reducing the amount of stuff we have around the house.  We have lots of storage space, so it is easy to think that we can just keep everything - just in case it might be useful.  But we were getting to the stage where every bit of storage was full up - every shelf, every cupboard crammed full of stuff, that might be useful to someone, someday.  Time for a clear out!

We decided to go for the 'One Room at a Time' approach, giving everything a good clean as we went and mending anything that needed mending as we came across it.  But it was slow going and frustrating because we still seemed to have packed shelves at the end of the process.  I just wasn't being ruthless enough!

My perusal of charity shops on various occasions throughout the year, though, had definitely sparked a shift in thinking.  I started to tell myself that if ever I needed something again I could just borrow it, or buy it second hand.  And that got me thinking...I needed a target!

So, that's when we set ourselves the aim of parting with 80 bags of stuff to take to the charity shop.

It took me two months to go through each room, fishing out toys, games, books, clothes, bags, rags, buttons, jewellery, shoes, belts, boots, hats, art and craft stuff, CDs and DVDs.  I managed to fill 80 carrier bags to give away.

Here are 3 principles that helped us fill our 80 bags:

  • We didn't want to part with all our games, as we do use some of them when we have younger visitors.  How to decide which to keep?  We decided that if all the parts were there and the box was perfect, then it went to the charity shop.  But, if there were bits missing, or it was a bit tatty, we kept it.  Why?  It was fairly easy to see that the games in perfect condition were the ones that had been played less.  The ones that we'd used over and over again, seemed to be the sensible ones to keep.  The better the condition of a game, I thought, would mean it more likely to bring in revenue for charity.  We often found that the tattier games had makeshift pieces, so we'd clearly played them despite their condition, so we'd be more likely to play them again.
  • We set up boxes for each person, so that I wasn't making a decision to give away something that wasn't mine, but could still feel like an area had been cleared and finished with. Each person was then able to go through their box as and when they had time.  I'm sure much of what was given away, would have been kept if it had just been left where it was out of sight out of mind!
  • If it didn't fit, it had to go.  This helped, for instance, with DVDs and books, where we had stuff double stacked.  It made us go through them and part with a few that we thought we wouldn't watch/read again.
If it didn't fit, it had to go!

So, is my house minimalist and organised now?  Far from it!  Despite our clear-out we still have a lot of stuff.  It did fire a desire to free up more space, to acquire less and to clear out more.  I had a big clear out in my office, when I decided to minimise the paperwork I had stored over the years.  I recycled more than my body weight of paper by setting myself a twelve week clear out programme.  But there's lots more that could go, so the summer sort out might be repeated in 2014.

And New Year's Resolution for this year?

I plan to continue my efforts at reducing food waste, reducing packaging, buying from charity shops or choosing considerately up-cycled goodies.   But my big giveaway this year will be…


Here's the rules if you want to play the game too!
  • 10 books per month to be given away
  • No new purchases of print books unless for work
  • Borrow from the library whenever possible.