Help! I’m hoarding for the environment – the Minimalist Game days 8 to 14

It’s the end of Week 2 of the Minimalist Game and I’m already reaping the benefits of less stuff. I’ve also come to an important realisation – I’ve been hoarding for the environment.

Hoarding for the environment

Most of the items that I got rid of this week were either:

  • once useful stuff I no longer require or is at the end of its life (eg. old baby bottles, broken safety latches)
  • potentially useful stuff that is too good to waste and might be useful someday but that I don’t think anyone else would want (eg. piles of plastic cutlery and paper napkins that come with takeout, used plastic bags).

Essentially, now it is rubbish, trash, garbage. Easy to let go of? Umm, well, no.

The guilt from Week 1 resurfaced. I have been trying to deny my wasteful ways by keeping stuff packed away in cupboards and drawers.

During the week, I stumbled across this article – Are you hoarding for the environment?  Yes, yes I am. Or I was. I’ve written before about how I’ve always had strong environment values but they’ve waned in the last couple of years. The decluttering process has highlighted to me that I still have these values and renewed my motivation to take action.

I’ve decided to note the areas of waste that make me most ashamed and work out baby steps towards addressing them. I found some reusable mesh produce bags in the pantry and I have already put them into action at the supermarket.

Benefits showing already

I am already reaping the benefits of decluttering. This came home to me with a simple occurrence – my pre-schooler ripped a book. I located the book tape within 30 seconds and he was happily reading again in five minutes.

There was no big sigh from me at the prospect of wading through packed drawers searching for tape, no putting the book on a pile for another day, no feeling guilty, frustrated or overwhelmed, and no buying another roll because I couldn’t find what I was looking for.

Fixing the book was no big deal. Two weeks prior, the sad fact is, it would’ve been an ordeal. Seeing these benefits in everyday life has given me great motivation to continue.

Next steps

So what is next? This week my husband commented that what I was doing and calling minimalism looked a lot like what he called spring-cleaning.

In many ways he is right. Although from what I’ve said above, what could look like mere rubbish to someone else actually held meaning to me.

My reasons for playing the Minimalist Game were beyond spring-cleaning. I do want to move onto some of the bigger items around the house and that is on my agenda for Week 3.

Week 2 Tally

Day 8 – 1 breast pump, 4 bottle lids, 4 teats (yes – I can’t count!)

Day 9 – 1 sippy cup, 1 bottle lid, 2 bottles, 2 broken safety clips, 3 teats

Day 10 – 1 toilet lid lock, 1 battery cover, 1 tube, 2 plastic keys, 5 medicine teats

Day 11 – 1 clip, 1 plastic key, 1 highlighter, 2 pieces of a piping set, 3 syringes, 3 plastic bottles I’d been keeping for crafts

Day 12 – 1 broken food cover, 1 broken safety lock, 1 pencil, 1 pen lid, 7 pens

Day 13 – 1 plastic tablecloth, 1 potato spiral maker, 1 tray, 1 bag of plastic cutlery, 1 pile of paper napkins, 1 set of cookie cutters (rusted), 1 empty box, 2 bags of plastic bags, 3 reusable shopping bags

Day 14 – 1 metal jug, 1 ceramic tile, 1 set of salt and pepper shakers, 2 glasses, 8 coffee mugs

I’m posting daily pictures of my progress on Twitter. You can find me under @AmyMoreTime.

Are you hoarding for the environment? Do you sometimes feel that minimalism is a bit at odds with your other values? How do you reconcile that?

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The week of the Wii – The Minimalist Game days 1 to 7

Week One of the Minimalist Game is in the bag – 28 items successfully out of the house and out of my life. The pace of my de-cluttering this week actually slowed compared to pre-game, but it was still a challenge.

Letting go – the guilt of waste

Twelve out of the 28 items that left the house this week were all parts of a Nintendo Wii game console, its games and accessories. It had been sitting in its box, untouched, since we moved into our current home three years ago.

It should be easy to let go of, right? I haven’t used it and I’m not going to miss it, but it was still difficult. I haven’t been hanging onto it just in case; I’ve been hanging onto it out of guilt. You see, normally I don’t go in for frivolous consumer electronics.

An inner voice chastised me – “What were you thinking spending good money tying up precious natural resources on something totally unnecessary which becomes obsolete almost immediately and is near impossible to dispose of responsibly? You should know better”.

At the time, buying the Wii was a guilty pleasure, but the pleasure is now gone and I was just left with the guilt. I’d been holding on to it in some vain hope that its use would be revived, my guilt assuaged. But it’s been three years, so it’s time to get real. Stepping back, the reality is that I created this waste the day I bought the Wii and hanging on to it wasn’t going to change that. The only difference I could make was what I did about it now.

So I did it – out the door it went. Quickly, before I changed my mind.

Getting rid – to sell or to give?

So I made the decision to get the Wii out of the house – but how? It’s pretty much obsolete, but in great condition and it wasn’t cheap. Part of me thought it should have some residual value and I should attempt to recoup some of its cost.

Stories of the money friends and family have made flogging unwanted stuff on online auction sites rang in my ears. I did some market research, but older Wiis aren’t in hot demand. Maybe I could get $20–50 for it on a Facebook buy’n’sell group. But what happens if it turns out it doesn’t work or some of the bits aren’t there?

What to do? I talked to my husband – “It’s your decision, but personally, if it’s worth less than $100, I give it away. Selling isn’t worth the hassle”. Right that was it, decision made. I listed it on a local free/swap group and a happy dad picked it up at the end of the day to take home to some soon to be very happy kids. It all happened very quickly and I was embarrassingly excited.

I caught the bug, flung open the kitchen cupboards and it was on – Day 30, bring it!

This week I learnt:

  • Feeling guilty about past purchases doesn’t achieve anything – you’ve got to move on and that’s much easier to do without the offending stuff sitting round as a constant reminder
  • Hanging on to stuff you are never going to use to avoid waste is just denial. The reality is, the waste was created the moment you bought it – deal with it (and remember this the next time you’re out shopping).

Week 1 Tally

Day 1 – 1 Wii console

Day 2 – 2 Wii controllers

Day 3 – 3 Wii games

Day 4 – 4 Wii controllers

Day 5 – 1 Wii balance board, 1 Wii fitness accessory, 3 broken pens

Day 6 – 1 plastic container, 1 bowl, 1 plate, 1 food processor accessory for a food processor I don’t own, 1 decorative garlic/ginger grater, 1 George Foreman Grill fork type accessory

Day 7 – 1 empty baby monitor box with instruction manuals, 2 empty packets, 1 broken bottle brush, 1 sippy cup lid, 1 breast pump part, 1 medical gauze

I’m posting daily pictures of my progress on Twitter. You can find me under @AmyMoreTime.

Confessions of a supermarket environmentalist

I’ve been pretty environmentally conscious since my teens – I was getting books out of the library on climate change for causal reading back when it was still called the greenhouse effect.

In the last few years I have become so overwhelmed by the scale of the problem and frustrated by greenwashing and green consumerism that I’ve almost given up trying.

These days I’d describe myself as a “supermarket environmentalist”. This description is a total contradiction in some ways, but sums up my desire to make the best everyday choices I can easily accommodate in a mainstream lifestyle.

My biggest tip is make a shopping list and stick to it. Only buy what you are going to use – and be realistic.

We all have good intentions, but putting fresh fruit and veggies in your shopping trolley doesn’t make you any healthier. You actually have to eat them! Instead, try popping some frozen fruit and veggies in your trolley to supplement the fresh. If you are doing a good job and getting through your 5+ a day there will be some on hand in the freezer. If not, there is less waste and food ready for a better week next week.

If you are after some eco-inspiration, I recommend a couple of blogs. What I really like about them is they are more action than aspiration. The bloggers are not buying their way to a “greener” lifestyle but sharing a wealth of practical advice about everyday experiences.

So be sure to check out: