Tag Archive | decluttering

Decluttering

While I was recuperating I sorted a massive shelf of Mr S’s clothes. 

Clothes were tossed up on the top shelf; some were in a massive removalist box that had split, threatening to spill its load on me. The threaten of physical injury was less injurious than daily injury to my sensibilities looking at this mess.

So while Mr S was away at work, I pulled everything out. Normally I don’t touch his touch. And I don’t declutter his things when I have enough issues with my possession, splinter in my own eye, log in others kind of thing. 

But I did. I touched. I tidied. I got a potential “these have to go” pile. 

He has crateloads of clothes still with their tags on, many items ordered online were still in the postpacks. From 2008!! Over 20 items from his favourite clothing supplier still in packaging. That’s about $2000 worth of unworn, never used clothing. But there was more! T shirts, track pants, underwear, clothing galore. 

And mixed in all this was clothes he wears regularly and old clothes that he doesn’t wear anymore. And some he shouldn’t wear anymore as they are like rags. 

So I sorted and folded and organised. So therapeutic. 

Being aware that they’re his property, I didn’t throw anything away. Just put this pile of clothes I thought should go to one side for him to deal with. 


I knew he’d freak. He is a hoarder. He enbues items with memories. 

And I was right. He did freak. “Oh no. This can’t go. Nothing from Gowings can go.” (Gowings was his favourite shop that shut down over a decade ago.) 

“Oh no. This has to go back. I like this shirt.” Said shirt is stained and stretched and has been unworn for years. 

I told him I had given three pairs of socks that were still in packaging to our son. “Which socks?” Ones that you bought probably 10 years ago. “Oh no, I need those. I’ve been saving them.” Stop, I say. There are more. “Oh I will just take back one pair for exercising. I need them now.”

I worked on him a bit more. “You haven’t worn these three t shirts and look you have three more worn ones still on the shelf and even more new ones in packaging. You don’t need three with worn collars, stained and badly stretched.” 

“You can’t talk,” he said. “You have too more clothes than me.” So I showed him how he actually has more wardrobe and cupboard space than me. That half of one of my shelves has our linen. And two of my shelves are for bags and shoes. 

I kept up the campaign that evening to get him to release the clothes. I explained how fashions change as has his body shape and his tastes. And pointed out how much money he has wasted. He countered claimed he had enough clothes for the next 20 years. You can’t be wearing tie dye and purple pants at 75?!?

He finally said, “You’re right. I just needed to process it. I love all my stuff.” 

Several days later, not all have been tossed. He reclaimed a pair of track pants and started wearing them. Other clothes were just moved to the floor in another room. But the top shelf still looks organised and I think he will let so more items go. And I know he won’t buy any clothes for a while. 

He even looked into his wardrobe and said he needed to toss some shirts! 

How’s that for success? 

And you? Would you declutter your partner’s property? Why is it easier to toss other people’s stuff?

Pull out the plastics

OK, pantry ordered and organised. Time to turn elsewhere in the kitchen. 

I took a deep breath and ventured into my plastics’ cupboard. 

Who knew how many items were contained within. Even more esoteric would be the knowledge of that subset of plastics: unusable and incomplete. How many bowls without matching lids? How many lids without bases? How many damaged items lay in this tangled mess?

What was clear was if everything was taken out, no way would they fit back in if lids were put on containers and then stacked on each other. The only way everything could be contained within the cupboard was if bowls were stacked inside other bigger bowls, square containers in bigger square containers, lids store altogether in a couple of containers. 

First to go: plastics that have shrunk in dishwasher, containers with heat damage, lids without bases. 


The dead and broken are easily dealt with. But do we really need so many plastic items?

So off to the op shop are plastic items we don’t use: cereal containers from when kids ate lots of different breakfast cereals, chopping board, ice block maker, ice cube tray. All perfectly good but not needed by me at this point in my life. 


Some items were repurposed and repositioned in the house. Mr S needed a new scoop for the chlorine in there pool. I have just the thing. A part from a lettuce spinner. 

Everything that went back in the cupboard had to go with the lid attached. No more hunting through the deep reaches, no more pulling everything out to find the right lid. 

And by stacking everything with it’s lid on means that we can fit far fewer items back in the cupboard. 

We still probably have too many items. But I plan on buying no more. Ever. For the rest of my life. Which may have 3o to 40 years left. So that’s not too bad.

Dealing with pantry moths

The hot and humid weather of summer suits some more than others. I’m on the side of not being well suited. On the positive side of the ledger sits pantry moths. 

Invaded we were. Last summer went through most of autumn, and thus great plagues were incubated. Every time someone opened the pantry door, moths, defending their newly won territory, dive bombed the seeker of food. 

A multi-faceted approach was needed. First step was research. I have done that for you. So here I present what to do to get rid of an infestation of pantry moths. It isn’t going to be easy. It isn’t going to be pleasant work. It isn’t going to be overly frugal. But by ridding your pantry of moths, you will save more food being wasted and you will rid your pantry of moths. 

Step 1: empty the pantry of everything. (If you’re like me you will continually exclaim the following: When did we turn into a supermarket? Why do we have so much food? Why do we have so much out of date food?) Use this time to toss  outdated food. 

Step 2: dry goods have to go. No, you can’t keep that unopened paper bag of flour. It will have moth eggs in it. No, you can’t keep that half empty box of rolled oats. No, you can’t … No.  Just no. Toss everything. If you don’t, the moths will infect your new produce.

Step 3: spray in the pantry with fly spray and quickly shut the door. The moths will die quickly making it easier to clean the pantry. Come back in an hour. 

Step 4: use a dust pan and brush to sweep up moths and crumbs and dust and onion peels and bits and stuff. Then clean every surface and the walls of your pantry. It doesn’t really matter what product you use. Best is some detergent in hot water. Dishwashing liquid is fine. Rince your cloth in the water and detergent and wring out so it is damp. You will need to empty and refresh your water repeatedly, depending on size and state of your pantry. Wipe over again with clean water. Dry with a cloth. Then leave to air dry. 

Step 5: put cloves in the gaps of the pantry. The walls of my pantry are grooved so a clove fits perfectly, like a little tack. Moths don’t like the smell. Plus closing the gaps make it hard for the weevils to come up. The moths lay their eggs down these gaps apparently. When hatched, they wriggle up. 

Cloves being stuck in gaps


Step 6: wipe over every tin before you return each one to the pantry. Put dry goods in airtight plastic containers. 

That’s it. Only pesticides used is the fly spray. 

OK, I won’t lie. The six easy steps took all weekend. I made my boys do steps 1 and 4. Which required much nagging on my part to keep them going and not disappearing into their rooms. I did the tossing part of Step 1. And I assisted in Step 4, cleaning the bits they missed, like up close to the edges. 

Result: organised, clean and moth-free pantry.  

Cheap tat

Where do you stand on cheap jewellery?

I like a bit of glitz. I am attracted by sparkle. And I do like a bargain. 

But I know the cheapness comes at a price. 

If things are cheap, people will buy lots and dispose of them, with the subsequent environmental damage through production, transportation and disposal. 

If things are cheap, you can bet your bottom dollar, the workers are paid shit. 

Still, as in many things I am inconsistent. 

I bought a cheap ring online. When it turned up it was too big. So it lived in my drawer. (Another cost: we clutter our homes with shit, making us feel overwhelmed and in many ways adding to the demand for more space, more storage, bigger houses.) 

I did think of turning it into a brooch but never got round to it. (Another cost: adding tasks to do to an already overfilled schedule, leading to guilt.)

The second time I wore the ring, part of it broke. I wore it the next day, and another bit broke, so I thought I pull off all the bits sticking out and have a ring with a big stone in the middle. 


Nup. Looked shit. 


So in the bin it went. 

On the up side, that’s another thing that is decluttered. 

Comfy shoes

I have thrown out a pair of shoes. 

I bought them three summers ago. They were my first foray into “leisure shoes”. 

Mr S hated my new leisure shoes from the start. He thought they looked ugly and did nothing for my legs. I admit I normally wear something more structured and with a heel. If I am in walking shoes I tend go wear runners. Still these were so comfortable and I was in them non-stop through three summers.

(Yes, they were the start of my move into “comfortable shoes”, a sign of aging and an insult. Mr S says that about ugly shoes, “They must be comfortable”. Implication for those who don’t get it, “because you wouldn’t wear them for any other reason.”)

But they started dying. First the inside of the heel went. I persevered. Then the sole started separating from the top in different spots. Then the sole was nearly worn through. Then they stretched. And the last sraw: the inside became quite dirty. 

But never fear. I have another pair. A friend bought a very similar pair on my recommendation. While she was amazed I would take to leisure shoes (it was she who coined the phrase, as she normally wears such shoes.) she didn’t like my recommended pair. So passed them onto me. 

Quite handy having a friend with the same size foot.

We fade to grey

I have a higher standard of “worn out” for items that are worn in public than for those I wear at home, and under the covers of my bed sheets. I’m sure you’re happy to read that, considering my last post. 

I just popped this coat in the op shop bag. 


I really like it and am sad it no longer meets my standards. I’ve tried to ignore that the white is not white. It has become grey from washing with the black. Poor dying chemicals? Anyway without the crisp contrast, I just feel schlompy. Others mightn’t notice it. But there you go. I do. 

I’ve put it on several times, felt not quite right and put it back in the wardrobe for another time, telling myself I am just being picky. Each time has been the same. It’s good. Just not good enough. 

(And the lining is slightly ripped along the back seam. But that wouldn’t bother me, cause it doesn’t affect the wearing or look.)

It’s not like I am going to be cold. I have a thing for coats. Five or six or so more in my wardrobe. But you see, each is unique and each one fits a purpose, fits different outfits. 

Goodbye my zebra like coat. I hope you make someone else happy. 

Do you have a thing about the whiteness of white?

Wearing in or wearing out

Do you like how soft old cotton pyjamas get? 

When they’ve been washed many, many times. When the threads, the weft and warp, have loosened. When the elastic is shot. When the material is thin. 

It’s how I prefer my pyjamas. Except I usually wear old tshirts, track pants and shorts as night attire when they’ve passed their prime as indoor around-the-house wear, which comes after they’ve past the wearable-in-public stage. 

In my defence, it is not just a tight arse thing. I find it difficult to find pyjamas that are comfortable. I don’t like buttons, or frills, or hard seams. Anything that is going to rub or itch. I don’t like neck lines too high but in winter I have to have my neck and back covered so can’t stand wide open neck lines. I can’t stand tight waists. Slinky material leaves me feeling cold and staticky. I can’t have just any cotton. It has to be knitted, stretchy material not woven material which stays cold to the touch. 

So old clothes work best for me. The line between comfy and rag-like does become fuzzy. 

For pyjamas, I don’t see holes in knees or neck lines. I can ignore seams that slightly come apart in the crutch. But I have standards, damn it. 

When the elastic totally goes and pants fall as I walk, they go. When holes appear in the backside or the ones in the crutch are too big to be decent, the clothing goes. 

I just let go of a pair of shorts that have been doing duty as PJ shorts. They’ve had a long life and I’ve definitely had value for money. Too many holes in the bottom now.
I am sad. I know it will be many years before I find a similar pair of shorts and wear them into a comfy state. 

Free slippers, anyone?

I have stopped taking the shampoo, conditioner and body lotions hotels provide. 

Basically they’re crap. Made in China crap. 

And normally they make my hair go like straw. Or have a scent I wouldn’t use. 

I do make exceptions. Crabtree and Evelyn  products. Nice smelling soaps for guests. (In the book I read where they won a luxury trip, they got Chanel and Tiffany products. I’d take those by the case load.)

I never used to be this strong but my “Use it up” challenge made me confront my excess product collection. Now I can walk out of a hotel and not feel the need to throw in all the small bottles. I’d rather spend money on the product I like than use a freebie I don’t like. 

But I can’t walk out with the slippers!

Why?

They are generally one size fits all which means they are too big for me. 

They don’t have a great warmth rating. 

I have heaps already. 

I did think I could give them out to guests who stay over. We have wooden floors which are cold in winter. But I don’t really have that many guests. 


Since I started my “Wear it out” challenge, I have stopped wearing my beloved uggies and are wearing the hotel slippers. 

Every so often I look down and think, “Shit. If someone came to the door now and saw me in these grotty things, they’d think I was a pig.” And then I know it is time to toss them. (They don’t really hold up to being placed in the washing machine.)

I have gone through quite a few. But they are like the magic pudding or wire coat hangers – there always seems to be another pair. OK, I did bring more home from my trip to China. Still…

Can you resist the free?

And what about the hidden costs? I don’t mean the hotel bill covers these things. I mean the cost to our environment for such disposable items. Does this cost worry you?

Wear it out

I’m feeling better, thanks for asking. 

Do you know how ill I was? Ignore the coughing and chills and sweating. I didn’t feel like reading; didn’t want bubbles; and I watched nothing that involved thinking. Muppets Movie, anyone?

Anyway, let’s move on. This house needs some organising and decluttering.

Everyone is into decluttering. Sorting through stuff and then tossing, donating, whatever! Just get it out. The western activity a result of consumerism. I never heard of decluttering in the 70s and 80s. We didn’t have tonnes of stuff. 

I’ve been mindlessly watching (see above) old episodes of Gok, some young fashionista from the UK. The shows I’ve been watching are quite old but I’d never heard of him before. I love his motto: shop less, wear more. He creates a wardrobe from 24 pieces. (I’d say he doesn’t live by that which is fine. Let me not make you hate me, or call me hypocritical, by counting my wardrobe items.)

I am attracted to the idea of having fewer clothes, more a capsule. But I have trouble letting things go. 

I like most of what I buy. I love shopping my wardrobe. I love having clothes for different seasons, weather, purposes, events, looks, moods. I love using items from my wardrobe and creating new outfits. I love shopping and finding new items. 

I have a problem with buying something and then tossing it while it is still good. The whole concept of disposable fashion irks me. All that production for landfill! 

I know one can donate but buying just to donate is so unfrugal. 

So I’ve been on a mission to wear clothes out. 

Except it is difficult to sometimes to work out at what level an item is worn out. 

Holes in the crutch! Easy? Toss?  No. Cause if they are in track suit pants they become PJs. 

Hole in the back of a top. Out? No, cause it can be worn with a jacket. 

Piling on a top. Mmm! Can it be worn under a jacket?

Dress material thinning. Wear a slip. 

When you see clothes fade, it is like living with someone as they age. You don’t notice it. 

Then there’s the whole concept of changing body shape, OK let’s call it what it is. Aging. Me. Not the clothes. Some just don’t suit you anymore. They worn out their welcome if you no longer look good. 

See it is not always easy. 

I want to be a sharp, a snappy dresser. But I want to get my money’s worth out of an item and I don’t want to add to landfill too much. 

So what have a worn out since the trackie dacks in September?

In the bin:

  • Two pairs of shoes. The thing that finally went in each could have been repaired but both had wear elsewhere that meant repair wouldn’t have been worth it. They would have looked shabby. 
  • A dress. I am hard on front and back seams of dresses and skirts, striding  around as I do. This one had been sewn up many times. Enough’s enough. 
  • A handbag. OK not clothing but I have too many of these too and they mostly live in my wardrobe. Or are meant to but they don’t fit. 
  • Hotel slippers. These are getting their own post.  
  • A much loved purple dress that literally wore thin. Does this happen anymore? I wore it with a slip for a while as it had become so thin but admitted defeat and tossed it. 

Worn thin


To the op shop:

  • A top that is no longer looking it’s best. It’s white but made of two different material. A satin material on the cuffs and collar which is shiny white still and stretchy material on the rest which is now too grey for my eyes. Also the stretch has gone and it is saggy. And if that is not enough, it has pilled around the side breast area where my handbag straps rubbed.
  • A top that isn’t white enough for me. Tried Napisaning it. No joy. 
  • A pin-striped jacket that is perfectly good but the matching skirt died long ago and I don’t wear the jacket with the pants. Too matchy matchy. 
  • A short summer dress. Actually not worn out at all. The material would never wear out! It’s nearly pure plastic, too hot for summer but it’s a summer dress. 

Too plasticky

  • A flash woollen jacket from a suit. Skirt died earlier. The jacket had become shiny. If I compared it with its original state, I’d probably be shocked. How long have I been wearing it past its prime?

Into the rag bag:

  • Two t shirts that have shrunk over the years. 

Given away:

  • A singlet top with embellishments that are starting to drop off. 
  • A handbag. 

A few items have been put into heavy rotation. They are on the turn and will cross that line that is “worn out”. My only fear: they’ve crossed that line already and I haven’t noticed! 

Change of tact

Three months of not buying any products. That’s 93 days of not buying skin and hair care products, not buying makeup, not buying perfume!

I’ve decided to change tact in my Use It Up challenge, though.  

Instead of continuing to use the products I have started using, I am going to use up all the small containers, all the samples, all the hotel freebies. 

I think that will make a big aesthetic difference to decluttering. 

I was hanging onto the little things for travel but they’re not enough for two weeks (our normal length of travel) and we drive anyway so it’s not like we are back packing and need to schlap everything. I’ve been on heaps of trips and most of the freebies have not moved from their spot in my cabinet. In fact the collection is often added to with new travel freebies. 

Next step: no products in my cupboard.

   

All but one of these products has now been used up. Woo hoo. On my way to containing my products in my bathroom.