Thanks to sharing – old and new

This month I’ve been on a decluttering mission. I am playing The Minimalist Game, attempting to rid my home of 564 items in a month. One unexpected outcome of this mission – gratitude for the sharing economy.

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Thanks to the sharing economy

The sharing economy has come in for a bit of a backlash recently as community turns corporate, but I have a lot to thank it for this month.

Sorting through my home, I’ve experienced a range of feelings ­ guilt, overwhelm, joy, excitement. Undertaking this exercise has prompted me to search for ways of living with less. It has made me realise how grateful I am for the various ways that I can use and enjoy stuff without having to own it.

Old school sharing economy

While books and toys are often particularly difficult areas for people to declutter, they were relatively easy for me. I didn’t really have much book and toy clutter thanks to the stalwarts of the sharing economy – the library.

I love libraries. I have at various times worked as a librarian. To me, the library provides a world of possibilities. Through the library I can access virtually any book that I desire at no cost. Sure, I sometimes have to wait and I sometimes have to read faster than I’d Iike – but I don’t have to own anything.

I am also very grateful for our local toy library. It ensures my son gets to play with an ever-changing rotation of high quality toys. And, when he’s bored with them, they don’t hang around our house getting in the way – they go right back where they came from for other kids to enjoy. The wee guy loves his fortnightly trips to the toy library to return his toys and bring home some new ones. If you have young kids, I really recommend checking out if there is one near you.

New school sharing economy

Technology can create clutter but it can also help you clear clutter. I no longer need to hang on to those CDs and DVDs – if I want to listen to it or watch it I can stream it.

New school sharing really came into its own when I wanted to get rid of stuff. I realised that a barrier to decluttering was the guilt I felt about waste and my desire to find things a good new home. Sharing information through social media gave me a quick and easy way to do this. Through local and special-interest Facebook groups, my stuff is out of my house and with people who want it.

Decluttering this month playing The Miniminalist Game has taken a weight off my mind and loads out of my house. Thank you, sharing economy –I appreciate how you enable me to live more with less.

Are you trying to live more with less? What things do you share rather than own?

 This is my first post as part of the Gratitude Circle – expect more like this the 4th Thursday of every month.

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The cost of free stuff – the Minimalist Game days 15 – 21

My decluttering has really ramped up over the last week. I am still amazed by the amount of junk I have stashed away. While my house doesn’t look much different, the kitchen especially is a lot easier to use.

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Minimalist Game Days 15 – 21

Freedom from the freebies

As I decluttered over the last three weeks, I’ve been struck by the amount of stuff in the house I acquired for free. It is now clear to me that all this free stuff has a cost.

I have come across various categories of free stuff in my cupboards and drawers:

  • giveaways and promotional freebies (eg. coffee mugs emblazoned a with logo, stickers, pins and bags)
  • stuff that was included with other stuff I bought (eg. A measuring cup and spoon that came with a rice cooker and a potato spiral maker)
  • stuff that has been passed on to me by someone else (eg. half my kitchen items and most of my craft things)
  • gifts (I think gifts will get a whole post of its own!).

I am fortunate, as a lot of what I consider to be essential items have been given to me and saved me a lot of money. Then there are the non-essential but potentially useful items.

My (former) slow cooker was one of those. I thought it would be really useful and I gave it a premium spot in my kitchen cupboard. However, I got it out more times to get to the special-occasions-only glass jug behind it than to cook with. Turns out I’m just not a slow cooker.

The lure of free

Then there are the more random things (coffee art stencils), the just plain useless things (bobble heads) and the things that would be useful if you didn’t already have 100 of them (promotional reusable shopping bags).

This got me thinking – what is it about free stuff? Why do I feel compelled to bring it into my home?

It is like we are hardwired to want free stuff – just because it’s free, no matter what it is. If there is something free on offer and I miss out on it, I feel disappointed and annoyed. Free stuff evokes a weird mix of feelings – both entitlement and gratitude.

I have a large pile of packaging sitting around. I had been saving it to redeem points on the products to get free stuff. I might get two or three free children’s books a year from doing this. I would never buy these books, as we have plenty of much better children’s books and use the local library heavily. Plus, the free books aren’t great quality so my son tears them easily. But no! I have been wasting time on redeeming points because it’s free stuff and I don’t want to miss out! Well, no more. If I wouldn’t buy it why accept it for free?

Not taking it

That is the lesson I learnt this week – it’s the stuff that I don’t buy that contributes most to my clutter. If I’m going to stop the clutter creep, it’s not just my spending I have to watch, it’s my accepting of free stuff. I need to get more discerning and practice saying thanks but no thanks.

Do you find it hard to resist a free offer? What is the stupidest freebie accepted recently?