Thursday, December 31, 2015

Downsizing ... Slow, Steady Progress

I made only one resolution for 2015.  At the beginning of the year, I set a goal to remove one item from our house for every day of the year.  Sounds like a lofty dream ... but it turned out to be much easier to do that I thought it would be.

Donation made in October.  Those gold lamps are the ones that were on our dresser before I found THESE lamps to replace them.


I keep a large moving box, that we call The Donation Box, in an out-of-the-way corner of our living room.  Any time I move something, put away laundry, rearrange a cupboard or closet, I subject the items to a simple test ... Is this item useful and does it bring me joy?  Answer "Yes", and the item is kept, put to use, or stored away till it's time to use it.  Answer "No", and it get dropped into The Donation Box.

When The Donation Box is full, I catalog the items, load them up, and take them away.  My most favorite place to donate things is to Re-Tail, a thrift shop on the other side of town, whose proceeds benefit an all-breed animal sanctuary.  

This is what The Donation Box looks like right now.


Today is New Year's Eve, the 365th day of 2015.  Without including the items that are currently in The Donation Box, which will probably go to the thrift store next week or later, 374 items left our house and went to outlets that support causes that benefit people and animals in our community!  374 isn't a huge number, considering how much extra stuff we still have to deal with.  But, it's a start ... and that lofty goal that I set for for 2015 has led to a habit and a system that will allow us to continue to make progress toward living with WAY less stuff in the future.  

31 comments:

  1. What a great idea! Congratulations on your success with this. I'll bet most of us could do that and not even hurt over what we're giving away. It's just so easy to stockpile a huge excess of "stuff" we don't even care about.

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    1. I'm glad you like it! It's so simple and painless. No big production of sifting through things, just a steady march and the stash of extra stuff gets smaller and smaller over time. My biggest accomplishment was making peace with donating things that have value and that I could sell ... but selling stuff takes a different type of energy, and it relies on finding buyers which can hold up the process. I let the charities have that value, and do their good work with the proceeds.

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  2. I have started another goal. If I want to buy a piece of clothing, I have to give up an item of clothing to Goodwill. I try to give up 2 items to one purchased, but always one item must go.
    I have been doing this for a couple of years. Plus I went through the kitchen this am and donated a couple of bags of stuff.

    I always have a bag that I add items to for Goodwill. Now I need to look at purses.

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    1. You and I have the same attitude about buying new clothes ... not that I actually do this in real time, you understand. I have been ruthless about thinning my wardrobe lately, culling items that I have been saving to wear somewhere I rarely go (most dress clothes fit into this category), clothes that no longer fit, etc. The new stuff coming in now is mostly black and/or grey, casual without being frumpy, and comfortable. Jeans and turtlenecks are my staples, and most other things are gone.

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  3. What a great inspiration, we just moved last weekend into a 1,028 sq.ft. house. I have been taking box after box to the Salvation Army Store for weeks now and still have more to go. It isn't easy downsizing for sure. I am now inspired to do this the whole year! There will be an empty box sat aside to catch items to donate.
    Thanks for your encouragement!

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    1. Doesn't it feel great to shed all that stuff from your life! Our younger years seem to be spent acquiring. Our kids need stuff, we have a house to fill, etc. For me, we aren't downsizing our house (though we may do it one day, but not any time soon), I just want to downsize the amount of stuff that we have accumulated because it's in the way and I don't want to live with so much anymore. There are days when I go nuts and fill the whole Donation Box at once. Other times, it takes me months to get a decent load. Congratulations on your purge and your move. People who do it all at once like you did are an inspiration to me.

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  4. What a neat way to include this in your everyday life.

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    1. I never thought of it like this, but you're right. Downsizing and simplifying has become part of everyday life ... just like shopping and acquiring was normal life before.

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  5. I am continuing my downsizing also and I love the donation box idea. I need to find a place for one in my home. It feels good to donate and I have sold the occasional thing but don't hold onto things long if they don't sell. I'm happy to know I'll continue all this in 2016!
    hugs,
    Linda

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    1. I have said it before, and I will continue to remind you, that you are my downsizing hero ... and you are the inspiration for my continued quest to live with less.

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  6. That is a great idea! I have three thrift stores close to donate to, GoodWill, Salvation Army and Habitat for Humanity. You've just inspired me.

    Have a wonderful 2016 ~ FlowerLady

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    1. The Donation Box is a really low stress way to get rid of things that we no longer need, love, or use. In 2015, I made runs to local outlets of all three of the places that you mentioned to donate things. They all do such great work, and it feels good to downsize at home and support their missions.

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  7. Bravo, Connie! We've been focusing on areas this past year---our garage (main and basement, which is like a huge cellar really), hall closets, etc. Next up is our utility room, but before I return Christmas stuff to its proper place, I'm clearing out those closets as well. All of my donations go to our local Opp Shop, which is run by the Episcopal Women's Group here and dispenses its proceeds to a long list of charities each year. It's amazing just how much they raise each year from selling items for such small amounts (and that helps those who need items, but don't have big budgets). They serve our community in so many ways. Anyway, it's good to "let go"! Each time we finish tackling another area, we feel freer and lighter. Happy New Year!

    Shirley

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    1. I know that shop! Every time I go through King George, I lament that (a) I don't have time to stop, or (b) the shop isn't open. Now that I know its mission, I will make a point to make time to go there and see what its all about.

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    2. How about that?! :-) FYI--Its hours are Tuesdays from 10-1, Wednesdays from 5-7:30, and Saturdays from 9-1. If you're going to come check it out, we should work it around a lunch date if possible. ;-) As far as really "shopping," some days you'll find nothing there and some days you'll be amazed at your finds. The inventory is ever changing (they turn over a huge volume of donations each week) and while I always find what I need there when I'm looking for something specific (I've outfitted several of my son's apartments). Whenever out-of-state friends visit, they love going there and always seem to find something worth taking home on the plane. ;-)

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    3. Looks like a Tuesday lunch date could be in our future. Name the day!

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  8. THAT is an incredible idea!
    I try to go through STUFF each month, or as I'm cleaning and off load. It's amazing how many things I feel like are still keepers do become, "c'mon...just let it go!" And I rarely miss it after it's gone.
    Great resolution--hope it becomes a tradition SHARED BY MANY!
    Happy New Year my soul-sista'!
    Catherine

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    1. Haven't missed a single thing yet after it has left the building. Goes to show how much stuff piles up when we aren't paying attention.

      Soul-sista, INDEED!! Happy to have found you, and I am continually inspired by your creations.

      Happy New Year, Catherine, dear!

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  9. the box idea is fabulous; may borrow that one. Happy New Year to you and yours...may you celebrate in good health and happiness.

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  10. We keep a box always ready, also. Feels so wonderful with each thing we put in there. Never miss anything. But, it is a never-ending project.

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    1. We are probably more alike than we are different. The only thing that feels better than filling that box is unloading it into my Jeep and taking it to donate. So much crap has left the building, to become treasures for someone else. Win/win!

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  11. This is such a wonderful idea.
    I closed my booth yesterday. It was the final day and while it helped me get rid of things and brought me a little cash to buy art supplies, it also helped me let go of some things that I wouldn't have otherwise. But I had to close it so that I could use the time I spent on it on more important things. I get so mad that at myself for buying some of that STUFF in the first place. But this idea will help me to continue purging my excess. It's amazing how much I had blindly accumulated. I will add this to my resolutions list, along with not bringing in anything more that is not absolutely necessary..
    Happy New Year!
    xoxo

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    1. Sounds like your booth experience was better than mine ... glad to hear it. There are a few things in my closet that I will take to a consignment shop to sell (for pennies on the dollar, but I don't care. Anything is better than nothing.)

      My rule is that anything brought into the house has to have a purpose. There is no pang to my conscience when stuff meets this requirement.

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  12. About this time last year we took a pick up truck load to donate, and are about to do it again. I also keep an ongoing donation box (mine is actually a big plastic IKEA bag) on the enclosed porch. Once it is full, I drop the stuff off. We have a thrift store that benefits special ed in our county schools, and the kids work in the store. We also donate to the Animal Care League thrift store, which helps our furry friends.

    The upbeat surprise to me when we brought that first truckload was feeling euphoric to get rid of so much "stuff", and the fact that I never missed any of it.

    Great post subject Connie! Happy New Year!

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    1. There are definitely endorphines involved in this process. The closer the box gets to being full, the giddier I become. Filling my Jeep to the brim for a donation trip puts me over the moon! Last time there was a little bit of space left, I went through the basement and came out with another armload of stuff.

      Happy New Year to you, too!

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  13. I like the idea of a box - it's a bit tidier looking! I just keep a garbage bag near the front coat rack, and when it fills up and I'm heading into the city then it comes with me. Along with all the recycling because in the city I don't have to sort it but out here I do. I hate sorting recycling. Bah. ;)

    Eliminating stuff is actually a pretty good feeling, isn't it? This year (although I didn't write it in the blog post) I'm tackling the basement, and I'm going to be RUTHLESS! Now if I could only get the spouse on board and deal with all his stuff. LOL

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  14. That's a great idea. We have so much "stuff" around here that I could donate for several years and still have stuff leftover.

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  15. I have a bag in my closet and one going downstairs all the time. Before the holidays, every weekend I would fill almost six bags, Bob would then take on Monday morning. I'm still going through stuff, my goal this year is to continue and maybe have what is left very organized. Less is more, my new motto.

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