Simplify life one room at a time

“The true cost of a thing should be remembered as the amount of life it required to be exchanged for it”


A regular simple living behaviour should be decluttering and reallocating under-utilised possessions.

Homes, minimalist or otherwise, are magnets for things. Even anti-consumer families can receive more than enough junk to fill a 3 bedroom house each year in birthday presents, thank you gifts or hand me down pieces of furniture or appliances.

There are lots of ways to declutter. The books by Elaine St James are some of the best that we have come across for those serious about cutting to the essentials in life.

Our own technique is a rather simple, but effective way of culling the horde.

Each month we fill a box with stuff we don’t need or aren’t using enough to justify retaining as a permanent possession. We try to put similar things in the box. The easiest way to make the contents uniform is to declutter one room every month. We include our basement and roof space as rooms. We can often fill several boxes from these out of sight out of mind spaces.

Once we have a full box we write a date three months into the future and a destination on the box. Then in three months we dispose of the box.  As an example, our January box that we have just filled will be removed from our house in the first week of March. The trick is to not have to open the box when the strike date rolls around. Another trick is to reallocate rather than to dump.

In March we will take our January box to a local opportunity shop run by a church. This trust uses the money it makes to help families in need. They provide budgeting services, drug and alcohol counselling and safe houses for people affected by family violence.

It is a nice way to feel good about giving away things that we might otherwise keep as dust collectors in our house or chuck into refuse. Any nagging twangs of doubt can be easily overcome by feelings of goodwill from the knowledge that our junk might help make a big difference to someone else’s life course.

On occasions where our box has a rubbish dump destination I am often compelled to open the box and re-examine every item. The bricoleur in me always holds some faint hope that the broken of disused junk can somehow be upcycled rather than dumped to landfill. Most often this isn’t the case and it is just a matter of being tough with oneself and of seeing the bigger picture of simple living.

Whatever method you choose decluttering and thus decoupling your identity from the possession of things is essential step on the simple living journey. You are not your possessions. Possessions are often the anchor that is holding you from moving forward.

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