It’s a decluttering time of year …

Filed in Blog by on November 10, 2011 22 Comments
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Mrs Green declutters for autumn

Mrs Green declutters for autumn

I don’t know about you, but as well as a spring clean, I like to do an autumn declutter and cleanse here at zero waste towers.

We’ll naturally be spending more time indoors so I want it to be my sanctuary.

I don’t want to put up with clutter or be surrounded by things I no longer love. Running a wood burner creates a lot of dust and I don’t want that dust falling onto things I can’t be bothered to clean.

Winter is a time of renewal, of slowing down and recuperating; not a time to be stressed by all the housework you feel you need to do!

So since the middle of October I’ve been busy ridding my home of the things I no longer need and it’s been quite a revelation.

It seems no sooner have you taken a car load of stuff to the charity shops and recycling banks than boxes more things crawl out of cupboards and drawers. I’m amazed at how much stuff I have accumulated in my years on this planet. Over the past 5 years or so I’ve really felt a need to REDUCE the amount of things I have and as you know, this can cause problems with Mr ‘I’m a natural hoarder’ Green…

To keep wedded bliss alive I’ve learned to ignore his things and just deal with my own. I’ve also learned to ignore him when he says “What are you going to fill that empty shelf with now?” <sigh>

As an incentive to help Little Miss Green sort through her wardrobe, we found a local recycling company who will pay us 40p a kilo for our unwanted clothes. Little Miss Green made herself £3 last week and was delighted!

They’ll also accept soft toys and I was excited to hear they’ll buy my cds for 20p each, so that’s next on my list for sorting through.

I’ve Freecycled a fish tank and some used jiffy bags. I’ve eBayed an old wood burner, a scanner, some of my better clothes and even some baking tins! £300 in my hand and Mr Green suddenly got on board with the idea of rehoming things. He started rummaging through his garage. He only got as far as rummaging mind you, but hey, it’s a start…

I’ve shredded papers dating back to 1998 and recycled it all. I’ve burned old diaries (how emotional was that?!) and have some clothes in a local second hand dress agency waiting for new owners (the woman who runs the shop keeps 50% and you get the other 50%; what’s not to love?).

Cardboard boxes have been shredded and composted or recycled, old packaging has been used to post the eBay items and toys have been put to one side for an Eco Sale Little Miss Green is helping organise at her school.

It sounds like my home should be looking immaculate by now, but it’s not – it’s a tip! “You can’t bake a cake without cracking eggs” Mr Green reminds me when I break down in tears at the seeming futility of it all..
However, on the odd shelf and in the odd drawer, order and calm is apparent. There are moments when I walk into my office, look at the shelf and smile. I can actually get to my computer in the mornings without having to move things off the top of it. Getting dressed in the morning is quicker because I can see and find my clothes…

So I shall keep on taking baby steps and see what I can achieve by the end of the year.

What about you – are any of you decluttering at the moment or would you like to join in to create some space before all the Christmas presents arrive!?

About the Author ()

I am a long time supporter of the Green and Sustainable lifestyle. After being caught in the Boscastle floods in 2004, our family begun a journey to respect and promote the importance of Earth's fragile ecosystem, that focussed on reducing waste. Inspired by the beauty and resourcefulness of this wonderful planet, I have published numerous magazine articles on green issues and the author of four books.

Comments (22)

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  1. Clothes is my pet hate… just moved into my boyfriends, but a suitcase wont do; 4 big clear recycling bags full of clothes; the only carrier big enough to hold them all!
    I know its impossible that I actually wear all these clothes… They desperately need sorting into seasons, not just colours, so Im not washing summer dresses in november. I need to let go of my emotional attachment to some of the garments, in order to really appreciate and get proper wear from my clothes!!
    That is this months challenge, just got to tackle the monster task of washing them all, before I can even get sorted!!

  2. && Ps mrs G, dont give up!! Its all about the journey and letting go anyway, not the finished result 🙂

  3. Jane says:

    I was going to say you don’t know what a tip is Mrs G… but you do! So now let’s get this in perspective. Morland Sanders said he thought everyone should visit one on that brilliant Dispatches programme. He meant a landfill site and not your home. : ) It’s that time of year. I too am struggling to go forward… so it is one step at a time.

  4. Mrs Green says:

    @Michelle Morgan @ Eco-Centricity: Good luck with your challenge. I’ve been working towards a capsule wardrobe for some time. It’s just that with my personality I tend to have lots of different tastes so it’s hard to stick to one style!

    @Jane: 😀 thanks for the pep talk Jane and good luck with your own decluttering

  5. RubbishGeek says:

    Ooh what a catchy theme!
    We recently had a big house party, and I wanted lots of tat out of the house before showing friends around. I started clearing out, and found it just made more mess!!
    Eventually though, as the piles of papers were shredded or recycled, the intended trips to the charity shops FINALLY made and the other stuff well hidden, it did start to look rather satisfyingly … dare I say…clean?! Hopefully going paper free on more bills will avoid such heinous paper collections!
    Well done Mrs G. and pats on the back all around

  6. LJayne says:

    I’m a constant declutterer – well I try to be lol 😉 – as I’m signed up to Flylady and her big mantra is that you can’t organise clutter. Ie, you can’t get your surroundings sorted until you are down to the stuff you really need/like/want – everything needs to have a place and then it is much easier to keep on top of stuff by putting things back in those places.

    Having said that I need to have a huge sort of the toy room. Despite only getting prezzies for xmas and birthdays and handing stuff down between the 3 of them, we still seem to have enough to open a sub-branch of Hamleys! But the school Christmas Fair is coming up and I have a choice of earning 50% of proceeds or letting the school PTA have the full 100% which means they’ll do the hard work of determining a selling price and labelling them all. If I do go for the earnings I can at least stipulate that any unsolds are given to charity rather than my having to recollect them and decide what to do about it.

    And DH has just done a great job of properly fixing our wardrobes so I can have another go through there. I put a skirt in the charity box this morning because, in all reality, it isn’t at all flattering on me anymore and there’s no point keeping it.

  7. Ann says:

    Oh, Mrs G., I can SOOO relate…. I have been steadily decluttering all year, and don’t really feel that others would see much difference. However, INSIDE the cupboards and shelves is a very different picture, and I know what is there! I am also working on the other side of the picture, and bringing very, very little INTO the house. However, food and paper both keep creeping in, and the paper insists of staying a while. That’s the area I most need to work on.

    If you haven’t found her already, go visit Colleen on She, like you, is a guru at the decluttering project.

    I haven’t commented before, but I have been following you daily for some weeks now (new when you have one, old ones when not), and they inspire me to keep at it. I am down to one supermarket bag of (landfill) rubbish per month, and would like to be able to reduce it further.

  8. Kathy says:

    I declutter year round, but there is something about Autumn that really spurs me on. I hadn’t really thought about it before, but we really are inside nesting more, baking more, and of course the holidays with extra company. I really love my home and would rather be here than anywhere else.

    Autumn is my favorite time of year, and about a week ago, my husband and I decided to remodel our kitchen and went for it. What a mess! Why did we not do this during the spring and summer I do not know. There are days of tears and pain, and days of oh my gosh I absolutely love it. This whole process has really helped on the declutter process, because I am already not wanting to put it all back. And I will not be putting it all back!

    I really do understand the small glimmer of bliss from that empty shelf, its what keeps us moving forward. Also, I love Mr. Greens line of “cracking eggs”. So fitting for my kitchen remodel, so that’s how I’m going to look at it from now on.

    I wish you a blissful declutering!

  9. Julie Day says:

    My mum has started to sort things out. She keeps saying that the house has so much stuff in it. Recently, between us, we gave 3 books, 2 ornaments to the care home where my dad is for their Christmas raffle. I’ve also given to a charity shop most of my dragon ornaments that I collected over years and Mum kept telling me to get rid off, as she couldn’t see me selling them. I still have a skirt I bought a few years ago that I’ve not worn yet, and don’t think I’ll fit in now.

  10. Mrs Green says:

    @RubbishGeek: thanks for sharing your story and congrats on your achievement! My office is still looking good 😀

    @LJayne: I have taken bits of the flylady philosphy too and some of it sticks in my mind as really useful. I agree short accounts are the only way to keep on top of things…best of luck with the toy decluttering

    @Ann: Hi Ann, I’m so glad you left a comment after reading for a while – thank you! I LOVE Colleen’s site; I used to post up and take part in her weekly missions. I think one carrier bag a month is wonderful – well done you and thanks for sharing your successes with us 🙂

    @Kathy: Oh I know about the mess during remodelling; it makes you wonder why you agreed to it but yes, when all the tools have been lain down and the job is finished it’s all worth it. Enjoy your new space!

    @Julie Day: Time to let that skirt go Julie and well done on decluttering the other items; someone will soon be loving them – you can feel good about that 🙂

  11. Lynda says:

    Two of my daughters had a massive clear out this year: one was preparing to work in Africa and the other was disposing of her childhood clutter as she is now in her final year at university. I can’t tell you how many boxes and bags I took to the charity shops – and how grateful I was to have gift-aided the items, as they hopefully will have made a lot of money from this. My happiest surprise was on returning from holiday recently to find that my 28 year old son had been through the fridge and the pantry and cleared out an embarrassing amount of historic purchases (the worst was the chutney given to us in 1992 which I hadn’t liked to throw out because it was a gift!!). I can’t tell you how lovely it is to have more space in the house and how worth while it has been persevering – take heart, it does get worse before it gets better.

  12. clothes and cloth, times too many…as mrs green, my personality offers too much selection..from sleek to primitive, from black to indigo, well mostly browns and autumn colors..and all these free clothes donated to local charities by the stores at end of season (for tax deductions)…my blessings run over me..

    and i have really given so much away–not enough as it takes 2 closets for it all..trimming again,
    lynda, so nice of you to appreciate your children de-cluttering the house..
    there are so many comments about de-cluttering, it must be a basic need in our society…clears the mind.

  13. Antonio Pachowko says:

    I tend to have a clear out every few months and tend to recycle old items as soon as new items are purchased so that there is no clutter. My problem is my old university stuff which occupies boxes and boxes in the garage (and files inside the home) and cannot be removed anywhere as I still need the information.

  14. I completely understand. I always seem to have a pile or a bag or a box getting ready for donations. I keep a bin in my laundry room for clothes that kids outgrow. When it is the right season I take the clothes to a resale shop, or consignment sale. Unfortunately we happen to have a lot of storage in our house, and every time I clear out a space Deacon G finds a way to fill it.

  15. CarSue says:

    I’m clearing out the closet and the drawers in my bedroom. Pulling out the big box of sweaters and scarves, I discovered there was no place to put my winter duds! Instead of taking my unwanted clothes to the charity shop this time, however, we decided to Freecycle everything. There are so mnay folks looking for jobs or out of work, and since most of what we were getting rid of were professional clothes, we decided to give them away to someone who might be struggling to come up with “job interview appropriate” or “office friendly” attire. How surprised (and delighted!) we were when a couple showed up on our doorstep to claim them, and they looked almost identical to us! (A hulking, 6’7″ man and a petit, 5’4″ wifey!) We were happy to not only bust some clutter, but help someone out.

  16. Mrs Green says:

    @Lynda: HA! love the chutney story; I wonder how many of us hang onto those gifts out of guilt.

    @nadine sellers: I think many of us suffer from ‘too much stuff’ – what a burden we carry. I know what you mean about multiple personalities needing multiple wardrobes; I kind of wish I had a uniform!

    @Antonio Pachowko: Good plan to recycle and declutter as you go, Antonio – that’s my aim too

    @Lisa @Granola Catholic: 😀 another hoarder in our midst. Oh well, good job we love them…

    @CarSue: what a lovely story Sue; thank you for sharing and it gives me something to think about too – I have a couple of ‘corporate’ outfits that I could rehome 🙂

  17. Teresa says:

    Still decluttering paper and I’ve found loads more in folders. Why is it when you attend courses you get superfluous handouts, often with writing in large font and on only one side of the paper. There was a form for every week so we could track our progress when one sheet of paper with printing on both sides would have done.

    Now we have weekly green bag collections it’s much easier to recycle. When we had fortnightly ones I would only do decluttering every other week; the week leading up to green bag day but now I do it every week almost every day.

  18. Mrs Green says:

    @Teresa: It’s great that you are able to declutter every day Teresa, you’ll soon achieve your goal. I know what you mean about handouts at courses, but also know why they produce all that paper – it adds perceived value for money and helps you remember things if there is lots of white space …

  19. Teresa says:

    Broke my record last week and put out three bags of paper and a bit of packaging for recycling. The most I had done before was two bags in a week and before that four bags in a fortnight. This calls for a reward for myself.

  20. Mrs Green says:

    @Teresa: Great news Teresa, it feels so good to lighten the load – how did you reward yourself in the end?

  21. Teresa says:

    Usually a bar of chocolate or a packet of biscuits if I’ve done a few hours of decluttering. I have a list of things I want to buy that aren’t essentials or Christmas presents and if I fill two green bags in any week I buy myself something nice. A few weeks ago I bought a second narrow leather belt from Marks and Spencers so that when I change my jeans I don’t have to take the belt off the pair I’m changing out of and use it with the pair I’m putting on. Today I bought a soy wax candle.

  22. Mrs Green says:

    @Teresa: lovely ideas Teresa; glad you’re still focused and motivated 🙂

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