Saturday, February 22, 2014

Frugality vs minimalism

Every time I set myself to some decluttering, I end up facing the same dilemma.

We all struggle to let go of clutter with sentimental baggage attached - we might not need, want or use it any more but we still struggle to let it go. That's totally normal, and in fact I am feeling as though with some items it's only a matter of giving myself time to build up to it, or even better, finding a better 'tribute' to that person or experience.

However, a huge proportion of the clutter in my life is not sentimental baggage, but practical things. Stationery, for example - half-used pads of paper, slowly drying pens, battered ring binders, dividers with the ghost of previous uses and crumpled document wallets. The leftovers of various packs of notepaper and cards, usually intended for thank you letters and now collecting dust.

This kind of thing just takes space. HUGE amounts of space. But I struggle to let go of it because it seems wasteful - surely the frugal thing is to hang on to these, and use them? The very rare occasions when I need something and dig it out of my pile rather than go out and buy something seem to reinforce this, even though the frequency pales in comparison to the way my heart sinks every time I open the cupboard door and see this:

And then what do I do with it if I can let it go? Chuck it in the bin and consign it to landfill? Most of this isn't recyclable, but also isn't any where near good enough condition to be sold. I could donate if I knew anyone who would use it, but how on earth to I identify a charity in need of basic stationery?

I think this is probably a fairly typical dilemma faced with decluttering. In an ideal world, I just wouldn't have accumulated this stuff, but I have and I need to face up to that and work out how to move forward.

The most ridiculous thing about all this is that I'm wasting so much time and energy worrying about something so unimportant. Maybe the easiest thing is to just chuck the whole pile out and be careful what I keep or buy in future - but that just feels so wasteful!


  1. You are not the only one to spend time and energy thinking about this sort of thing! I don't like to throw away/recycle/compost etc anything that looks like it could be re-used first.

    My problem is remembering that I have kept something 'just in case' - when 'just in case' comes around, I've usually forgotten about it and go out and buy a new one anyway. I need to master the art of shopping from home first!

    If you do decide to get rid of some of your stationery, try any kind of children's charity or group - kindergarten, Brownies, that sort of thing. They might be interested for their craft activities.

    1. You are so right - it's 'just in case' I need x/y/z but it's so rare that I do - and the pile is so cluttered I usually can't find it. Recent example - I have some seeds left over from the last time I planted herbs, stored in an old tin at the bottom of this pile. I couldn't extricate it so bought some more.

      Kindergarten/Brownies is a good suggestion, I'll explore that!

  2. I know these feelings for sure! But I will add this: you would be surprised at who can us what; and if you no longer have any use for something, donate it to someone who might be able to use it. It should be in decent condition, of course. You just never know. A general thrift or charity shop is the best place to donate.

    1. My challenge is where to give them - the local charity shop refuses donations of basic clothes in good condition because they 'won't sell', so they definitely wouldn't touch used stationary. Some creativity required - I'll just have to find somewhere that can use it! Thanks for the support!

  3. Can you organise it better? I did a sort out and ended up with a large pile of note pads of various sizes. They're all now in the same place so I know where to go when I need one. They'll all get used eventually!
    I agree though that there are lots of things you would even struggle to give away but seem too useful to landfill *shudder* I have been known to get in 'had enough' mode and apologise to the environment afterwards ;)

    1. Organisation would definitely help - at the moment if I touch the pile, something falls out and won't go back in the same place...



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