I having been pondering on this one – and I am still undecided. I often think I should like to be a minimalist – simplifying things, and reducing my possessions.
It is said that Mahatma Gandhi believed so fervently in the life of the spirit that he had only a handful of material possessions when he died – a watch, sandals, spectacles, and a few similar items. Similarly, Mother Teresa left just a bucket and two saris. Now you could argue that the nun lived with the other nuns, and was provided with a bed, bedlinen, and meals – so did not need to ‘own’ plates, cups, bathtowels etc. But lots of other people live relatively minimal lives within the context of a more conventional 21st century Western World existence. They have ‘capsule’ wardrobes, use just a basic set of kitchenware [2 pans, 2 knives, one chopping board etc] and keep all their reading material on one little Kindle.
I am aware that if ‘hoarding’ means ‘keeping something for which you have no immediate use’, then I am definitely a hoarder. And I justify this to myself by saying that this is being frugal. If I get rid of this thing now I may have to spend money on replacing it later. Don’t frugal people need to keep things ‘just in case’? This past few days, I have found uses for ‘just in case’ stuff.
A couple of years ago, we gained two chairs which another person in the village was throwing out because their legs were damaged. Bob was able to make one good chair from the two damaged ones, and it now lives at Cornerstones in the back bedroom. But he stripped all the leather from the second chair and kept it in the garage. On Thursday I was using that leather to finish off another project [I shall write awl about that later!] It would have cost a lot to buy a piece of leather.
On Friday, a colleague in the staffroom asked ‘Does anyone have any pine cones please? I need some for Wednesday week’ Much shaking of heads and mutterings of ‘Sorry, no’ – I went over and said ‘I have a sweet jar full of them that you can have’ and explained they were left over from a Church Holiday Club Craft. I didn’t dare tell her which year they were left over from! They’ve been in the garage for ages
On Saturday I was involved in a rather sticky craft project involving PVA glue. Fortunately I have a tub full of little plastic pots which contain disposable gloves [you get a pair in every box of hair dye- but I use the same pair over and over for that until the gloves split] So I was able to keep my hands clean [and yes, I did throw away the very sticky gloves afterwards]
I’ve sorted out the work I shall be doing with my new SATs students – and put it into some old folders which I had emptied out 2 years ago and stored in the loft. And that’s saved me the cost of purchasing more
I think my problem is making intelligent decisions about how many boxes of these things I need to keep. In the box of folders in the loft were also dozens [yes, honestly that many] of cardboard ring binder files accumulated down the years – and then emptied of their contents when no longer needed. What do I do with them?
- I shall never have need for all of them.
- Charity shops don’t want these items
- You cannot even give them away on Freecycle
- I feel uncomfortable just throwing them away
Any suggestions? And while we are at it, my jiffy bag collection is getting rather large too – even if everything I ever advertise on eBay sells and I do lots of blog-giveaways, I won’t need all these padded envelopes [I must have samples in every size they produce, from tiny to huge] I did manage to reduce my mammoth pen & pencil collection over the summer. I took a large box of [new & unused] items to Holiday Club and we gave them away as prizes each day.
Do you have items which you hoard?
How do you manage to declutter your stash?
Is it possible to combine being a minimalist and being a frugalist?