In our very first monthly challenge, we spent January playing the 30-Day Minimalism Game invented by The Minimalists. Every day, Mr W and I each got rid of a number of things. One thing on Day 1, two things on Day 2, and so on. We decided that whichever one of us managed to keep going the longest had to cook an extra specially delicious meal for the other. See the post where we announced the challenge for more details.
Now it’s the final day of the challenge, and I’m happy to announce that we both managed to keep going right to the end. We each got rid of 496 items. That’s epic and I never thought that I’d be able to find so many excess things in the house. (Admittedly near the end I counted buttons as individual items, but I was running out of ideas.) All in all it’s been a really interesting experience that has had some unexpected results.
We Found Out That Some of Our Friends Are Minimalists Too!
I had wanted to do the Minimalism Game for ages, but I thought people would think I was weird if I told them about it. Now that I did it and started talking about it I found loads of people I already knew both in real life and online who had done it already or were doing it at the same time as me. And I made some new online blogger friends into the bargain!
Erith from Cracking Retirement told me she’d done the challenge a few years ago. She even still has the Excel sheet she used to track the things she got rid of!
Maria Kreuz from Auf Heller und Pfennig joined in the game and got rid of a tonne of stuff too.
SavingNinja introduced me to Marie Kondo* by posting real-time photos of his clothes decluttering marathon on twitter. (Including the after photo of his nicely organised sock drawer.) I really want to do the Marie Kondo challenge too, but since we’ll be moving in a few months I reckon it would be better to Marie Kondo the new place from the start rather than sorting out our current place and then having to start all over again after the move.
We Met Some New People
Through posting daily photos of the things I was getting rid of on twitter I met Dragons on FIRE. They’ve teamed up with Budget Epicurean for their own decluttering challenge to get rid of 1000 items in a year.
I found the #MinsGame facebook group. It’s a place where people doing the challenge can post their daily pictures and encourage each other to keep going. Taking part in the group was a lot of fun and it was interesting to see what other people were getting rid of.
Overall, the social aspect of the challenge was something I wasn’t expecting. But it was really nice to see how many other people out there are on the same path. And it was great to encourage each other and exchange ideas and tips.
We Unleashed the Decluttering Beast in Mr W’s Sister
On Day 29, Mr W started to clear one shelf of the overflowing bookcase at his parents’ house, which still held some of his childhood books. He asked his sister (who is not a minimalist) whether she wanted any of them. Totally unexpectedly, that set off a trigger for his sister. She started clearing out her books from the bookcase without us saying anything.
Our town’s library now has a tonne of new donations. Funnily enough, this is one category of things Mr W’s mum didn’t mind us clearing out. Normally she’s very set against throwing anything out because someone might need it in 20 years’ time. But she doesn’t read any books except the bible and she’s never going to start. Since she couldn’t foresee any situation in which she or anyone she knows might need any of the books, she was quite happy for Mr W to donate them to the local library. (It also means she has more shelf space available for her knicknacks.)
Unexpected Bonus: We Started a Children’s Library
We donated quite a few books to a local playgroup (along with a gazillion old toys we found in the attic), and that gave the leaders of the group the idea to start a children’s library. Loads of other parents have since got on board and have donated books too. This is something that lots of kids in our local community are going to benefit from for years to come. It gives us a warm fuzzy feeling.
The Ethics of Decluttering
As with everything, there are ethical issues to address when decluttering.
Getting rid of old stuff just to replace it with new stuff defeats the purpose. Donating things (especially clothes) to charity shops where it may not be bought and may end up in landfill is also problematic. And passing things on to people who may just throw them in the bin when they no longer need them isn’t ideal either.
As Mr W said in his facebook post on Day 18, getting rid of stuff without throwing it out is much more difficult than buying stuff. We had to carefully consider where each item we decluttered would go after it left our house. Only things that really couldn’t be used again went in the bin, and we tried to recycle them as far as possible to stop them going to landfill. We donated most things – to the local playgroup, relatives with younger children, the local library. Mr W’s coin collection even went to a local museum. Some things went to a local charity shop, where we really hope they’ll be bought.
Our solutions weren’t perfect as we won’t be able to follow all our stuff on its journey to make sure it doesn’t end up in landfill. But we really tried to come up with creative solutions and donate our stuff to places that could make good use of it. We tried.
All in all I really enjoyed doing this challenge. I found it surprisingly easy to come up with things to get rid of and it wasn’t as much work as I expected. The community aspect of it was fun too, and hopefully we managed to help some people with our donations. You can see our decluttering photos in all their glory here.
Watch this space to find out what our February challenge is going to be! For now we’re off to watch the last-minute FIWE 2019 applications with a well-earned glass of vino. Goodnight folks!
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