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Sep 30, 2013

The Return of the Daily Ditch or "Get it OUT"



Friends, I know it may seem strange to follow a post about finding treasures in the trash with one about tackling my increasingly overwhelming clutter, but so be it.

It is time, once again, to resurrect The Daily Ditch.



I think I told you that on MPB Day, after our lunch/pattern swap, I sent Michael home with a bag of nearly 40 patterns that nobody wanted.  Well, today I took that bag of unloved patterns to the Salvation Army.  It felt good!



Do you remember that papier maché plant/thing I found in the trash this summer?  It dawned on me gradually that, interesting as it was, this objet wasn't really enhancing my life.  It will be available for sale at the Salvation Army at 208 Eighth Avenue imminently, along with a few pair of my old pants, a scarf, hats, shoes, and a couple of books.



Monday's Ditch Total: two large bags.

Not bad considering I'm very out of practice.



I was talking to Michael today about all the things we hang onto because we either a) paid too much money for them to just give them away without some sort of compensation (which would mean selling them on eBay or Craigslist, with all the nuisance that entails); or b) care so much about them that we want them to go to somebody who's going to really appreciate them.

But what's the cost of hanging on to all that stuff?  Every time I encounter this clutter (daily) it brings me down and makes me feel trapped. 

Sometimes I think, What would I be willing to pay to have all of this stuff GONE and never have to deal with again.  $100?  $500?  $1,000?  I mean, sure, it's great to sell things on eBay and make money on the stuff, but that involves a great deal of work -- I know, I've done it.  But honestly, are we talking money that's really going to make a huge difference in the scheme of things? 

I was thinking today that, here in the United States, so many things are relatively cheap to purchase.  Most of this is stuff we don't actually need.  What we actually do need -- a place to live, health insurance, an education, good quality food -- is increasingly out of reach.  Just a thought.

Readers, I hope this post will inspire you to do some ditching of your own -- not that you need to, of course.  I'm aiming to keep this going for at least a week -- I still see plenty of clutter in my peripheral vision.

Have a great day, everybody!

34 comments:

  1. I am a huge believer in de-cluttering. Too much stuff makes me feel anxious. Also, cleared spaces create room for creative possibilities. Best of luck with your purge!

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  2. I've tried to get into the habit of asking myself 'Do I really need this' before purchasing or even accepting anything ..

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  3. Interesting how "stuff" (by which I mean mostly useless crap) is getting cheaper, but "necessary stuff" is getting more expensive or harder to get...

    I agree that eBay can be a lot of work, and it's just easier to get rid of items that aren't particularly valuable anyway... It feels great to declutter, doesn't it?

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  4. This is startling, as I had just come to this point myself. I recently read the "333" plan to declutter one's closet. It's harsh. You pare down to 33 garments to wear for 3 months. You don't include nightwear, or exercise clothes, but everything else counts. I can't (won't) do that, but I did take a sensible look at my stuffed closet and sent several bags of clothing to Goodwill. Then I boxed up some things I know I can't part with, and put them in the attic. At least the closet is gloriously functional at last. Every single thing is in season, fits me, and pieces I love to wear. I know I cheated with the boxes in the attic, but I feel very good about it. I have plans to sew a few blouses (Colette Violet and Sorbeto, and Grainline Archer), and the Colette Zinnia skirt during this 3 month period, as well as a warm hooded vest.

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  5. Thank you especially for this one comment:

    "I was thinking today that, here in the United States, so many of our things are relatively cheap. Sadly, most of this is stuff we don't actually need. What we really need -- a place to live, health insurance, an education -- is increasingly out of reach."

    Oh so very on point. It is not the way I would like our society to be and, frankly, I find it hard to imagine anyone who thinks this is OK.

    Not to politicize your sewing blog, but I am just so much in agreement.

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  6. Decluttering really gives freedom. I read about certain decluttering techniques on flylady.net (for people who hang on to stuff untill they get totally overwhelmed, which basically describes me) and now I try to toss/donate 27 things a day. Maybe that would work for you? Good luck with your decluttering.
    The passage about health insurance, education and a home scared the hell out of me. I am very happy and to live in a country where housing,education and health care are more affordabl.

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  7. Oh this is timely for me. We just got rid of 7 bags of clothes and do dads. Also, after having to vacate 1/2 of the house for water damage repairs, I was in despair at all the junk we've kept. At least this an opportunity to re assess and clear out more stuff.

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  8. I'm going to purge my fabric stash and dump the stuff that has been sitting in stash for years and is not inspiring me. If it hasn't inspired me in 5/10/15 years then it's safe to say it's not going to inspire me anytime soon. I have this purge scheduled for Christmas vacation. :)

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  9. "....here in the United States, so many things are relatively cheap to purchase. Most of this is stuff we don't actually need. What we actually do need -- a place to live, health insurance, an education, good quality food"

    So true. So, so true.

    I've been rolling up my sleeves this entire summer to do a MAJOR decluttering myself to create a new sewing studio, which I finally managed to do, however, decluttering part hasn't finished, and more things have moved into my new space! It's like a race! In my history of cluttering and decluttering, the only thing that actually worked was "FlyLady" method. It did. I had a serene coupe of years. Then I relaxed and didn't stay on with her philosophy and discipline. I think it's time to take out my FlyLady 'bible', a book called "Sink Reflections'. Mainly written to women who get to stay home a lot, but I think the main principle applies to everyone. Her method worked for me. It's totally workable. I think I ought to get back on her program. Good luck, Peter!

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  10. Your post certainly was motivational for me. I need to de-clutter so badly. Thanks for the encouragement!

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  11. I love reading posts like this! So much of the internet is dedicated to acquiring and consuming that it's refreshing to see someone questioning what value all of this stuff can bring to our lives and happiness.

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  12. Happy donating Peter. I'm trying to get some order into the fabric stash (which has been weeded vigorously) with a system of paper bags on top of the sewing cabinet (sew these NOW) and a fling cabinet (do these next) The FC is an ugly bit of furniture. Once empty it too can go and the paper bags can be replaced by more decorative boxes. Trouble is, of course, that the end of winter fabric sales are on and it's very hard to resist bargains.

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  13. Couldn't have said it any better, Peter.

    I have spent the last 3 months clearing out every box, nook, cranny and cupboard in my house. Every last item (including clothing) had to have a good reason for staying. Anything that didn't cut it was in good condition with potential usefulness (for someone else) and so has gone to charity.

    I find having stuff suffocating and it is truly liberating to let it go.

    Three cheers for the daily ditch.

    Spud.

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  14. Completely agree. What has really helped me, is that my university course involves co-op (work placements). So far I have had to live out of 2 suitcases for 4 months twice- the first time in another country, and the other was on the other side of the country (Ontario-Yukon in winter). Ever since then, I kind of think of whether something I buy/own is something I would put in one of those suitcases.

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  15. Yes, for a lot of people these days, it isn't acquiring "stuff" that's so difficult , it's getting rid of it before it becomes overwhelming.

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  16. We took a carload of stuff to the Salvation Army this weekend-- and as soon as they get it, they tag it and put it out. The suitcase with the broken zipper and the excess shoe rack went while we were still unloading.

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  17. I am going to be moving in the next 18 months to a newer, much smaller house. I get on a binge every once and awhile and pack up several boxes, but when you have lived in a house for over 30 years, several boxes every once and awhile is not doing the trick, even in 18 months, Its overwhelming and embarassing that I have accumulated so much stuff. I need to take a vacation just to get things organized enough to get rid of it,

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  18. Donating is liberating, and for a few items, sometimes you get as much out of donation/tax deduction as you would if you had a garage sale. if there are free line programs (I think something like "itsdeductible.com"), you'd be surprised at how the value of some items can add up.

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    1. Typed too quickly and left an incomplete sentence. Meant to say, there ARE free online programs.

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  19. My only quibble with what you have written is the part about education. Tuition at exclusive colleges is out of reach for most and I won't argue that our public education system needs reforms. Nor will I say that you can master every skill or subject by yourself. However, if you would like to learn the basic subject matter of a liberal arts education (history, literature, mathematics, art history, economics, a foreign language, biology, and physics), you have resources. Use them. In the US we have great access to free and relatively inexpensive educational materials in many subjects and most people choose not to use these resources because it would require effort and it isn't packaged in a shiny program with a certificate. Newish textbooks sell online for under 5 dollars. MIT has an extensive website with the course materials, assignments, video lectures, syllabi for many subjects. Even the state I live in - which has limited social welfare programs- offers nearly free internet access for people with low incomes. Think how many free resources are available on the internet to teach someone to sew. There are so many free resources to learn a second language- free podcasts, free online newspapers, free dictionaries, free language learning forums. If you live in an urban area you have access to public libraries, usually with free adult literacy and computer literacy programs. This past year the BBC reported the story of a 15 year old girl in Pakistan who was *shot* for attending school and writing about it. We don't always appreciate the educational opportunities that we have, opportunities that no one who lived 100 years ago had, and that much of the world still doesn't.

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  20. Thank you for posting this, Peter! I am decluttering stuff and it's inspiring/encouraging to see other de-accession stuff, too!

    Rose in SV

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  21. Yeah, right, next thing you know, you'll be telling me I don't need 12 sewing machines.

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  22. I'm currently moving out of my parents' house, out of the room I spent the last five years (and my entire college education) in. Over these years I had built up a massive archive of drawings, materials and just... stuff. I had been finding extra storage space instead of getting rid of things. Decluttering was an enormous task, taking over two weeks (for one room and a few cupboards!) and I ended up throwing out eight trashbags, three boxes of books, four massive bags of clothing and boxes upon boxes of paper to recycle. It was a lot easier than I expected!

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  23. Yay for getting rid of clutter! I've been trying so hard to think this way the past couple of years (especially after moving SO MUCH STUFF omg). You've really put it into words well.

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  24. I ask myself this question every time I am trying to decided weather to keep or toss something. "Would I take this with me if I were moving tomorrow"? Usually the answer is NO and I get rid of it. This one simple question has really helped me de-clutter my home and life. It also prevents me from buying things I don't really need. I truly believe if you're asking yourself if you should keep something the answer is probably NO.

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    1. Love this analysis! When I'm buying something questionable, I always ask, "If someone were offering me x dollars (the price) or this thing, which would I take?" I almost always choose the money and decide not to buy.

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  25. Bought a metal bench at an "antique fair" (flea market) last year. My husband blew out the motor on my Dremel tool sanding it down, then painstakingly primed, painted, etc. etc. In short, much $$ and time invested into this thing. Within 24 hours of it being in my house, my son almost dove eye socket first into a (sharp) corner of the thing. I've been dizzy with worry over it ever since. You just inspired me to get it the hell out of here. The guys that troll the neighborhood for scrap metal will be thrilled.

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  26. I hear you...I hear you.

    How did you know that I have over 5000 comic books from the 1960-1990s taking up a whole room in my basement that cold be put to better use?
    I don't even read comics but they are all I have left of my departed brother( which I never did get along with), but still hold onto for some strange reason.

    how do I convince myself that it is time to pass them along?

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    1. Auction them to collectors and give the proceeds to a good cause? I had the same problem with good handbags (the ones women hang on to forever) when my mother and MIL died within a year of each other. It took me a couple of years, but they went to Goodwill. The fabric and yarn/knitting stash went to a charity that knits for those with nothing to keep them warm.

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  27. I did a couple of ditches in rapid succession recently. There's a thrift shop near my house that benefits the local animal shelter. They have been the recipients of clothing and of a legal-sized paperwork box full patterns from the Big Four as well as a ton of independent pattern companies' patterns. It feels great to turn things that I just won't use any more into treasure for other people, and money to support the animals.

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  28. I had a health scare earlier this year. Once I was well enough to get up on my feet and do something, I purged the bungalow we live in, even my antique to merely vintage doll collection. The vinyls went to GoodWill, as did books, furniture I like by DH hates, even the good stuff. The sewing room was purged as I didn't know whether I'd be able to sew anytime soon. All my cottons went to a charity that makes quilts for the poor and elderly; other fabrics that I'd been saving for years (a hatchback car full) and patterns/notions/lining, etc. went to the annual textile museum sale (I'm in Toronto.) Books went to a church rummage sale. Jewellery, clothing, shoes, handbags I've hung on to but never use, china that hasn't seen the light of day for years (except the ancestor china): the lot - gone. DH was filling the car and doing a daily run to GoodWill for over a month. Wow! It's like starting over with just my very favourite things left. It's great!

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