Is charity really the best option?

I’ve been on this Minimalism journey for about a year and a half now and I’ve gotten rid of a ton of stuff, however I still have more to go. Below are some photos of all the things I’ve gotten rid of. This is only a portion of it and includes the bigger items, items I could sell and items which I didn’t want to donate to a charity shop.

Sometimes I’m reluctant to donate certain things to charity stores because I’m not 100% sure that they would want or could sell all the items I wanted to donate (e.g. 4 sample pots of teal coloured wall paint, makeup which had been opened, etc). I feel like one aspect of the Minimalist trend that is often ignored or glazed over is the donation of the massive amounts of items decluttered.

A lot of people feel they are doing a good thing by donating the items and not just throwing it out into landfill. And while I agree with that, I also believe a significant proportion of people don’t critically analyse what it is they’re donating – they’re just eager to get it out of their homes and for it to be someone else’s problem.

By donating things without really assessing their condition or the likelihood that someone else would want it, it then places the burden on the charity to dispose of the items that they can’t sell or use. I didn’t want to be one of those people who feels good about themselves because they’ve just donated their stuff when in actual fact its just an easier way of getting rid of things, without the guilt of putting it in the garbage.

For this reason, all the items below are things I advertised on Gumtree (online marketplace in Australia). 90% of these things I gave away for free. One of the main reasons I decided to use Gumtree rather than donating it to St Vincents or the Smith Family, is because I wanted to give these things to people who would actually want them, who would use them and who would appreciate them. I didn’t want to just dump it in a charity bin and hope that the charity would be able to get rid of it somehow.

I am currently still advertising more items on Gumtree for free because I’m determined to find these items a good home, without it being a burden on anyone else.

125 and on the decline

I’ve done multiple wardrobe declutters over the last 18 months and I am always amazed at how much I end up donating. Right now I’ve gotten to a point where I have pretty much all my clothes for winter and summer fitting into my wardrobe. I’m pretty proud of this because it used to be that the main two sets of clothing (spring/summer and autumn/winter) were split – one set would be in my wardrobe and the other would be in vacuum sealed bags under my bed.

At the moment I have 125 items of clothing – this includes:

  • Spring, summer, autumn, winter clothes
  • Workwear, going out clothes, casual wear, gym clothes and even a bit of lounge wear (only 2 jumpers that I only wear at home)

What it doesn’t include:

  • Pj’s and home clothes
  • Swimwear
  • Underwear, lingerie, bras, socks
  • Scarves

If I was doing project 333 and I split the 125 between 4 seasons then it’d have roughly 31 pieces per season, which isn’t bad.

But deep down I know I can get rid of a lot more clothes. Today I’ve already found another 4 items of clothing that have barely been worn (one still has a tag on it) and which I’ll be donating.

By June I want to be under 100 items of clothing, which I don’t think will be too difficult. I find that the more I declutter the better I am at it and the easier it gets to let things go. Also, the more space I create the more at peace I feel and that is an amazing motivator to declutter more and more. It also helps me mentally bring a lot of important things to the forefront instead of getting distracted by clutter and my habitual shopping problem.

 

 

The Luxury of Minimalism

When I first discovered Minimalism, I fell in love with the concept of living with less. The simplicity, the lightness and the purity of the idea was what drew me to it. However, after watching countless videos on Minimalism and decluttering, I feel like even this simple idea is now being exploited and commercialised. With so many Youtubers doing decluttering videos and giving it a Minimalist tag, I feel like the white, clean canvas of Minimalism is being smudged by dirty little fingers.

Don’t get me wrong, I think there are a handful of Youtubers who are genuine Minimalists and abide by the principles of minimalism in their day-to-day lives. However, I also think a clear distinction needs to be made between decluttering and minimalism and we need to recognise that decluttering does not necessarily equal minimalism.

Just because a person declutters their wardrobe or house, does not make them a minimalist, especially if they then fill their home with more new stuff after decluttering. That’s definitely not minimalism, that’s just called making space for more consumerism.

Youtubers who do a “minimalist decluttering” video and then follow it with a “haul” video really upset me. Just because you decluttered your oversized and overflowing wardrobe does not make you a minimalist, so don’t use that tag. Just call it a cleaning video because that’s what it is – you’re not minimising, your just cleaning your messy home.

I think we also need to be aware that Minimalism is a trend that only the developed world has the luxury of following. If you are lucky enough to have so much stuff (especially stuff you don’t actually need), that you need to make it a “thing” to declutter and get rid of it, then you are definitely in the top 10% of the wealthiest people on earth.

I can’t imagine a family living in poverty in a third world country would spend their weekends sifting through their belongings and creating mountains of long forgotten items to give away.

I know that my view on Minimalism is becoming a little jaded due to all the people out there that exploit the idea to get more views and likes. I also know that I am one of the luckiest people in the world to be able to call myself a striving minimalist.

Minimising for Different Seasons

Space. I love space – physical, mental, emotional space. As 2018 gets well underway, I’ve continued my minimalist journey and have been decluttering bits and pieces every week. So far I’ve decluttered 101 items this year and have used up/worn out another 28 items. Although the majority of these were clothes, it also included shoes, bags, toiletries, homewares, decor, etc.

I just did another wardrobe declutter today and I’ve ended up with another garbage bag full of clothes to donate. It is amazing how many items of clothing I have accumulated over the years from my online shopping addiction.

What has been difficult in terms of decluttering my closet is the different seasons. Here in Sydney, Australia, although the weather is very warm during summer, winters are still quite cold. The problem is I can’t remember how cold. This year has been unusually warm (probably due to global warming) and because it has been warm for so long, I can’t actually remember what the cold feels like, which makes it hard to throw out winter clothes. For example, in the southern hemisphere it should be the middle of autumn now but the current temperature is 31°C (87.8° F).

Another thing which is making decluttering difficult is that I will be changing jobs soon. For the last 3.5years my work wardrobe has been pretty casual (e.g. black jeans and a sweater or blouse). With the jobs I’m currently applying for, a few of them will definitely require a more formal work wardrobe e.g. pencil dresses, button-up shirts, work pants, etc.

Right now my autumn/winter wardrobe features about 18 knitted sweaters which covers home clothes, casual weekend wear and casual work outfits. If I get a new job that requires more formal attire then it means only 3, maybe 4 out of those 18 sweaters will be appropriate for work.

Also, because I can’t remember how cold it gets, I can’t seem to work out how many sweaters I’d usually wear just at home and for going out over the course of a week. As I write this, it has just occurred to me that regardless of how many sweaters I need in a week, I definitely don’t need 18 unless I’m going through 2.5 sweaters a day, every day.

Ok…so I guess it’s time to try again and to take a long hard look at my sweater collection. But one thing I did realise from all this is that when winter finally comes, I really need to take notice on how many of my winter clothes I actually wear and also, how often I wear them in a week.

 

Minimalist Learnings & Realisations

Depending on how you found out about minimalism, if you happened to stumble across it via Youtube like I did, the initial impression you may have gotten was that minimalism is all about decluttering and relinquishing a significant proportion of your material possessions. Then as you fell further down the Youtube rabbit hole, you may have realised that for some, minimalism is more than the act of simply downsizing possessions.

The more I discover about minimalism the more I realise it is a philosophy and lifestyle choice rather than simply lightening your material baggage. As I delve deeper I find that ideas that have sat idle in my mind or that I have been exposed to, but had chosen to bypass previously, suddenly seem drawn to the overarching idea of minimalism like the pull from a magnet. Examples include sustainable/eco living, recycling, environmentally friendly products, vegetarianism/veganism, natural skincare/no chemicals, animal friendly products, no waste living, ethically made clothing, mindfulness, conscious living, meditation/yoga, financial responsibility, saving money, frugal living, life hacks, changing habits and finding joy and happiness.

While all these ideas have been flying around in my head for a long time, they have never had an anchor until now. With minimalism, all these concepts are beginning to connect to form a holistic, tangible framework on how I want to live my life.

Upon closer inspection and contemplation I’ve also realised that all these ideas are simply a variation on the core concept of minimalism which is to simplify and pare back everything to the most essential. For example:

Essential Living:

No waste living, recycling, environmentally friendly products, sustainability, animal friendly products, ethically made clothing, natural skincare, no chemicals – these are all versions of products that have been stripped of the unnecessary packaging, testing and ingredients down to the core function, which is to nourish your body or support your life.

Essential Body:

Vegetarianism/Veganism is eliminating the need to slaughter animals for food when we can sustain ourselves on vegetables and fruit. This is also a way of focusing on the essential nutrients your body requires rather than on junk food or fast food.

Essential Mental & Spiritual Health

Mindfulness, conscious living, meditation/yoga, changing habits and finding joy are all about decreasing the unnecessary stress and mental clutter that inhabits our minds and hearts and to focus on the important things in life that being us happiness and improve our wellbeing.

Essential Finance

Financial responsibility, saving money, frugal living, life hacks – all ways to improve our finances and reduce the amount of money we waste on the unnecessary.

As these ideas gain a stronger foothold in my mind, I find I am beginning to make small changes in my life, for the better, which goes beyond simply throwing out my possessions.