Throwing shit out (a.k.a minimalism)



On Sunday after a long 26km training run with Catherine I almost fell into a two hour cat nap on the sofa. Cue a large cuppa and two (or four) Bourbon biscuits and I was revitalised. I rose slowly from my comfortable nest of cushions with aching knees but a determination to attack my clutter. It was to prove easier than I’d imagined (ain’t that usually the case).

Preceding this decluttering came many occasions in prior weeks when I’d thought about what I could get rid of. Mentally noting things that had been left idle for months or had served their purpose and were now a reminder of a job well served. I’m not sure if this mild hoarding is a trait passed down from my parents who had lived through rationing and shortages post WW2. I wouldn’t say we had a cluttered home when I was growing up, but we certainly held onto things that could be useful or serve a purpose in the future. If that future required several sets of cutlery and two lawn mowers then we would be Kings! Obviously many people accrue objects through the course of their life, often passed down from family members that have left the building. But hanging onto these things can be more of a ball and chain than a happy reminder and that is something I intend to avoid.

The day before the “chuck out of ‘18” I told my friend Andrew that I had too many shoes. I have accrued a few pairs over the years and seem incapable of throwing the things out. It’s partly the waste that I’d be creating and partly the thought that all these shoes were still useful. Or so I told myself. However once I’d collected all the shoes I hadn’t worn in a month or more, I realised that their days were up. Clearly the sight of these unused foot coffins had burgeoned my soul just enough that it gave me a kick up the arse to say “cheerio!”

The resultant pile of size 11.5 shoes looked like this:

1 x work boots with hole in toe of one exposing rusted protective toe cap

1 x blister inducing deck shoes (a contrast to the pair above I know)

2 x runners in good condition (surprisingly)

1 x pair or runners in sad condition

1 x pair of smart black shoes (responsible for many blisters)

1 x pair of slightly less smart black shoes in good condition, but unused.

1 x pair of Vans.

The final pair on the list above were brought back to life with a cushioned inner sole taken from the dead work boots. This made me happy.

Now I won’t bore you with the details of all the other decluttering but by the time I had finished I had removed several books and magazines, thrown away trinkets and added several items of clothing to a burgeoning bag of old garments. The sum total looked like this:


But why the clean out I hear you ask. Well I’ve become more focused on the environment of late thanks in part to our trip to Borneo just before Christmas. Having seen the impact of deforestation and palm oil plantations on the wildlife there it made me think about what I can do locally. Not only that though, it is also about mental health. Removing objects that no longer bring joy to me is an extremely productive way of clearing both my home and my mind. Any stories or emotions attached to these things are carried away when they get discarded, it is essentially like jet washing my brain.

Since getting back home Catherine and I have been doing the small, seemingly insignificant things, such as not using plastic bags or packaging whenever possible. When getting coffee we now have our keep cups to use instead of the takeaway cups that don’t biodegrade. In our local area we pick up rubbish to stop it from ending up in the ocean via the storm drains. All these things may appear small, but over time it does add up. Of course this isn’t going to reduce the temperature of the World, but it’s about changing the way people think by taking action yourself.

I am so interested in the environment that I am off to study a course in Land and Environment Conservation. I’m not entirely sure what the end goal is with it, but I know that it is something that I am passionate about and want to learn more of. Hopefully I will be able to apply it in the future to something bigger than decluttering!

Tom :)

#minimalism #decluttering

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