Scrolling through Facebook today (oh the hours wasted) I happened across something called 40 Bags in 40 Days, which is something of a decluttering challenge that begins in February. You can read about all the details here, but the gist is that you commit to decluttering during the period that happens to coincide with Lent.
This immediately appealed to me, not least because I have recently offloaded eight bags of stuff thanks to the charity pick-up services that will come to your house and take it away for you, which as far as I am concerned removes the last possible excuse for not getting rid of stuff you don’t need (but that someone else might be able to use).
In this most recent donation, I got rid of several bags of clothes (mine and my husband’s), an entire box of shoes, two boxes of books and a very large bag of yarn. There is still more stuff to be gone through, including kitchen items, linens and OMG my closet. I feel like I donate a not-insignificant amount of clothing away every year and still my closet is teetering with things I don’t seem to be able to part with. Late last summer I sent a large box of things off to Threadflip – they did all sell before the company ceased operations this month – so it was good to make a small amount of money there. And I have a few things I could probably list on eBay, but most of it just needs to go. But for some reason I have a hard time getting really and truly ruthless in my closet.
A little more than two years ago, right before we moved into our house, I did a very large donation purge of our apartment. But when our basement (or rather our landlord’s basement) flooded twice after heavy rains, I was forced to do another not-entirely-welcome purge. I lost a lot of books and mementos (and a queen-sized down duvet!!!!) in that mess but I did learn something: during the act of lugging load after load of sopping wet and ruined stuff – stuff I hadn’t seen fit to take out of their moving boxes in three and a half years – I very quickly got the point about how overwhelming possessions can be.
I’m never going to be like a guy I briefly dated who said he wanted to be able to fit all his earthly possessions into a van. I like stuff, and I have hobbies that require stuff, and that works just fine for me. But I don’t want to feel that weird panic ever again.
It’s very trendy right now to declutter and pare down (see also: Marie Kondo, capsule wardrobes, tiny houses) and that’s all dandy if that’s what you’re into, but I also think it’s just sensible to have a fix on where you stand in terms of how much crap you own, whether you really need it, what you’re spending your money on, etc. To each their own. I’m not sure I’ll end up with 40 bags (in fact the charity pick-up service would probably prefer a much more reasonable number) but I do look forward to lightening my own personal junk collection, and hopefully passing some of it on to people who have some use for it.