Ending the year with a decluttering challenge seems to me as a great way to step into 2021 with a clean slate – with less stuff and less bad habits. Hopefully, by now I have developed some good habits (such as waking up earlier, reading more, walking more, eating better) and I will be ending the year on a positive note. Decluttering is a really important part of this – I live in a one-bedroom apartment with my boyfriend and my brother (who reorganized the living room into a bedroom) so we don’t have a lot of space to work with.
Since both of them have a lot of equipment (cameras, photo stands, microphones, lights, etc.), as well as a lot of books and movies, my bedroom and also kitchen (which is mostly storage for my brother’s equipment – he’s an award winning professional photographer, check him out!), feel so cluttered. So, throughout December of 2020, I want to declutter some bits of my apartment each day. Some day it will be a kitchen drawer, sometimes it might be an entire bathroom, or so. I just want to get rid of everything we don’t use or don’t like anymore, to create more space for living, not adding new stuff.
That would be 10 items daily which shouldn’t be that hard, yet it would make a huge difference.
I’ve recently read “The life changing magic of tidying up”, by Marie Kondo and I must admit, I’ve hated it. I’ve only finished it because I don’t like letting a book go unfinished (my Goodreads challenge would suffer) but would not recommend it if you’re thinking of decluttering your home. Here’s a quick recap of the book: throw away all that doesn’t spark joy. I guess you knew that already, since it is a well promoted mantra. However, what is troubling is the idea of throwing things away! Kondo writes you shouldn’t give your unsparkable items to friends or family, because that way you are only creating clutter in their home, so it’s better to just create waste. I strongly oppose to this view, especially after developing and implementing a waste management project with a set of educational, promotional and informational tools on how to reduce waste, recycle more etc. There are many more insane ideas in this book, so much so that I wrote a review (which is not something I do often) on Goodreads, which states: “This book is an insult to common sense”. It really is. I support all the efforts on decluttering and home organizing because people do tend to hoard unnecessary items which become a burden (for me at least) and are affecting the quality of life. But I do not support the wastefulness she is promoting and especially not how she manages to connect loose change and gender stereotypes. So instead, here are couple of basic and simple ideas I will be implementing during December, while decluttering:
- Donate unused/unwanted items to organizations which can sell it in auctions to raise funds for their cause. I often participate in auctions by an organization which cares for dogs (and sadly only once managed to outbid others!). In Split, where I live, there’s an organization which collects donations in various items and then sells them at the biggest pre-Christmas flea market, to collect funds for homeless. Point being, don’t just dump your excess stuff on some organization, but look for those that are reselling them on auctions and markets, to raise money for their future work.
- Set up a WhatsApp family (or friends) group and ask your family members if they want/need something you no longer do. Doing this, I gave all of my unwanted cutlery and coffee cups to my aunt to use in her apartments where she hosts tourists. Of course, make sure you offer only good quality items, not rubbish.
- Sell your stuff online. There are so many sites where you may sell your used items, such as Facebook market, or in Croatia, Moje krpice (mostly for clothes, shoes and make up), Njuškalo (for everything else). This requires a bit of work on your part – taking good pictures, writing good description, being active in answering potential questions, etc., but it sure pays off! Once, I sold so many of my unworn clothes that I made more money that way than from my regular job. It was a good month.
- Give out gifts. Some may frown upon using your unwanted items as gifts for other, saying it’s a cheapskate’s action, but I strongly disagree. Of course, I won’t give out things which are heavily used, torn or anything, but only good quality things I no longer need but would be interesting for someone else. This usually includes books, jewelry, home decoration or something I was given but don’t like or use. Lately, I mostly give out sweets (chocolates, candy…) because I am trying to cut back on sugar. 😀
- Recycle what you can. For example, I declutter paper, scripts, and notes from my college days, by putting them in a recycling bin for paper. I have three recycling bins in my home: one for plastic, one for paper and one for bottles (which we can exchange for actual money). Separating our waste made a huge difference in lowering the amount of trash we throw away. Marie Kondo takes pride in the number of trash bags her clients produce in their decluttering sessions. I pride myself on the number of trash bags I do not produce. Most of the items can be recycled, and there simply is no reason not to. Just look up what goes where, and separate your waste accordingly, even if you think it all ends up in the same place in the end. It really doesn’t make financial sense to not recycle, speaking in terms of waste management companies but also your own household. If they do throw everything in the same place, they won’t be doing that for much longer – due to the cost of managing it and due to the penalties they will face. So, make sure you develop good habits, and when the waste management system is operating the way it should, you will be ready and your bills will be significantly lower. Here’s a cheat sheet on what goes (and doesn’t go) where, in Croatian and I’m sure there are many English versions as well.
Do you have any more ideas? Let me know in the comments!
Yeah, so original. There are two things I don’t need that I spend most of my money on: books and natural cosmetics. When it comes to latter, I have an addiction for L’Occitane, even though I understand that there are many better products which are also cheaper, so I’m trying to cut back on that as well and only buy new stuff when I spend what I already have and also look for substitutes which are more affordable. When it comes to books, I buy them non stop. Where ever I go for vacation, I have to return with a book or a comic (even when I went to Cuba, I came back with a comic book, though I really wanted to come back with Hemingway’s book which were surprisingly scarce, even at the souvenir shop in his own house!). If I have extra time before or after work, I browse bookshops and always end up with some new book, etc. The speed by which I purchase new books, is faster that the one I read them by. So, as a reward for this challenge, I’d like to buy myself a library membership so I stop spending so much on books and just read them for (almost) free, without the regret of spending on books which end up not being worth it. (Let’s be honest, there are some really bad books out there, one of them mentioned in this post as well).
So, care to join me? Here are some similar challenges I’ve found online, if you’d like a more structured challenge. I find it hard enough to remember to do my challenge daily, let alone do it more structurally. But, we are not all alike, so these might be useful to you.