Monthly Archives: February 2012

31 pounds of cassette tapes

Sadly, these may end up in a landfill. I’ve listed them on e-bay, but they aren’t exactly sought after items. I can always hope for the best though. These are not music tapes, they are religious materials, which makes them much, much harder to get rid of. Especially since I disagree with much of what’s on them, myself. If they don’t sell on e-bay, I may try my local freecycle before tossing them all.

One more reason I prefer MP3 and digital media.

There are a few options for recycling them:

Success!!! At, you can type in an item and your zip and come up with a location that recycles a certain item. And there is a recycler that takes cassettes which I will be driving nearby soon. They also accept mail ins.


103 more pounds, 528 total!

Today, I donated nearly 103 pounds of miscellaneous, picture frames, cookie tins, books, baskets and nick-knacks, extra blankets and afghans, curtains, video shelf and ironing board.

Prior to the point I started counting, I sold a book case (30 lbs?), and at least 4 bags of clothes (120 lbs?–and four bags is way underestimating), three sets of Corelle dishes (15 lbs?), 3-5 large suitcases, and 30 pounds of fabric… I also mailed off 40 pounds of books (in addition to the others I packed to sell), and last Monday donated a bunch of kitchen utensils and such (3 larger boxes), which was definitely more than 50 pounds.

So far total pounds (including what’s listed on the other entries): at least 528 I have my doubts about making it to a ton. That’s quite a bit of weight. But then again I look around and realize just how much further I have to go. After all, I’m over a quarter ton already, and I deliberately underestimated what I didn’t weigh of that.

People still think I’m a little nuts. But it is so nice to be rid of it all. I had no idea I had most of what I’ve donated. which is a little irritating. How can a person not see that much stuff sitting around?

A ton of stuff?

I’ve heard of people getting rid of all but 400 items or even all but 100 items. One young man wanted to try living with no more than he could carry. My mind can’t quite grasp that. So my goal is to donate-quite literally-a ton of stuff. I wish I’d started weighing everything at the beginning, because it’s kind of a fun concept, and will benefit me in two ways-I will have a goal in mind and if I meet that goal I’ll be very conscientious about what I am dragging through life from now on. Certainly it doesn’t take nearly a ton of items (excluding house and car!) to care for one 140 pound person.

The ton isn’t furniture or necessities, either. So far it’s clothes I never wore, bedding and kitchen items I never used (and frankly had forgotten I owned anyway), and books I either never read or could easily check out from the library or read on my e-reader. I’ve already donated about 120 pounds of stuff this week, just since I started weighing. I believe I donated at least 200 pounds before that, things that weren’t weighed. Most of that was clothes. I have another box of books and three other boxes already sorted for donation. And a 30 pound bag of fabric I’m still looking for a home for. Weigh in before donation is tomorrow morning.

A ton of stuff. Is it possible that I was holding onto so much?


By the way, for the first time in memory I went to Walmart a couple nights ago without going through the clearance aisle. That’s a first. Another first: I walked out with only the food I’d gone in for.

Interesting conversations: resistance

I’ve had some interesting conversations lately with my parents and another couple I know, as well as with a coworker.

My parents are concerned, especially my dad. I think more than anything, he’s embarrassed for how “stuff” has consumed his life… and for his inability to let it go. His parents lived through the Depression. One of his first early memories is of helping Grandma “sheetrock” the loft area of their small home so the kids could live upstairs. They got cardboard, glued white sheets over it, and stuck it up against the studs. No insulation. At the time there were three kids and four adults in that small house, a house with no bathroom and minimal conveniences. It frightens him to think that I might “live like that”. He has no idea how much easier living off grid and/or living more simply and sustainably has become through the years. It’s been difficult to get him to understand that rather than working to accumulate more technology, it would be better to let the technology I need begin working for me-that rather than having a load of gadgets I use occasionally, I could obtain a few high end gadgets that would replace more traditional gadgets in my home. A convection oven/microwave rather than a toaster oven, microwave, and conventional oven as separate entities, for instance, when I only bake a few larger items a year.

Composting toilets, solar energy, solar water heaters, and tankless water heaters disturb Dad. He admits they are interesting technology, but doesn’t believe they should replace conventional methods. What if something goes wrong? What if they don’t work as well as I think they will? My response: I understand the concern. But what if they do? What if by simplifying I could not only live cheaper, but happier?

I admitted my surprise at Dad’s reaction to my downsizing to a coworker. He remarked that giving away things was a concern, because it was a strong indicator of suicide. I hadn’t thought of that, though I know it’s true. The only thing is, I know I’m not suicidal. I’m happier and freer now than I was. The huge difference is I am giving things away so that I can live, not die. I’m not giving things to loved ones to remember me by. I’m donating excess. I seriously doubt my parents have been concerned about suicide… they’ve seen my house and know how much I’ve accumulated. They’re well aware of the family hoarding genes. But I’d forgotten others might not be.

Then I had a conversation with a couple who is living with three kids in about 1700 square feet. They are in financial trouble, and they said they didn’t have a big enough house even now. But as we talked, the wife remembered she had many items stored that the kids had outgrown. Things that were possibly worth a considerable amount of money. Things she’d forgotten about and that in getting rid of would help them financially and increase their space by decreasing excess. By the end of the conversation she was getting a little excited about downsizing, herself.

My sister is excited. She’s cleaning out the basement and selling some items. She’s made a decent amount of pocket change, increased their livable space, and knows they’ll never miss what they’ve gotten rid of. It’s a very motivating revelation.

another 40

I packed about 40 pounds of books last night. I was going to take them to Hastings for a book buyback today, but then this morning I received a call for an interview (temps, but still good), so I’ll make the two trips together and save myself 40-50 miles. I hope to pack a bunch more fabric today and get it to some crafters who meet tonight at church and get rid of a few more things in the basement, too.

Things are coming together more quickly than I’d imagined they would. I still have a lot to do, but every day seems to bring some very good progress. I wish I’d started weighing everything as I donated/sold it when I first started… I’d love to be able to say I got rid of-literally-a ton of stuff. I have no doubt that will be the truth.

Two thousand pounds of stuff… that seems like a lot. And it is. How much extra weight are you towing through life?

I lost another 50 pounds!

I got rid of two large boxes of books and several popcorn, cookie, and other tins today, plus a few smaller items. I still have more books to get rid of, but I will sell those if I can, and I still need to list some furniture. It seems that I find something else to get rid of every time I look, and I’m glad of that. The tins needed to go.

For several years I did battle with flour moths. Exterminators swear that once they’re in your house, you can never get rid of them, but really you can. It just takes a long time and a lot of perseverance. I put all my dry goods in the freezer, refrigerator, or tins, and eventually starved them out. Today when I opened a few of the tins, though, I found food from 2008 and 2009 that had to be thrown out. So I got rid of all but a few tins, and from now on I won’t buy dry goods in quite the bulk I have in the past.

I’m not certain what I can get rid of next. More fabric? afghans? pots and pans? curtains? baskets? I think I’ll pack a few things and discard as I pack. My tactics will definitely have to change as I reduce, both because there will be less to get rid of and because it will be more difficult for me to let go of some things. Not because I need them or even want them, but just because I might… someday. Getting past that mindset will be liberating in itself.

I lost 40 pounds!!

OK, I’ve been wanting to say something like that. I don’t actually know how many pounds of stuff I donated today, but it was quite a heavy bag and a probably five pound box. I wish I’d started weighing things at the very beginning and could total how much has been donated so far. It would have been fun by this point.

Today I took the silverware and plastic table cloths for a wedding that never was to the church for donation. They were quite happy to get them. I should have thought of that before. I also gave the hangars to the laundromat. They have the regular laundromat plus a “pay per pound” wash, and the woman at the counter was THRILLED to get the hangars. My parents were upset that I’d given away wire hangars because “someday they won’t make those anymore!” Good grief, they don’t make rotary phones anymore either, but that doesn’t mean we should hoard them.

My parents really don’t understand the concept of living with less, living more sustainably, or living in a smaller space. I was raised in an approximately 800 square foot house. There were four of us. Why am I living by myself in 960?

Where to donate items

One of the main problems I have is where to get rid of stuff besides the dump. I hate to waste anything, so I’ve kept things I’ll never use just to keep from filling another landfill. A noble cause… but surely there’s a better answer.

Here are my thoughts:

Thrift stores
Consignment shops (careful, with some you have the opportunity to get it back if no one else wants it)
Recycling places (for metal, cardboard, paper, and plastic recycling)
Hazardous waste places (Some take paint, household cleaners, and such and give it away to whoever needs it.)
Homeless shelter (That’s where my extra lotions and shampoos will probably go this afternoon.)
Women’s crisis center (personal care items, gently used clothes, old cell phones)
Some crisis pregnancy centers (personal care items, gently used clothes, especially maternity and baby items)
Quilters’ guild (for fabric and even sometimes very worn clothes–ask in advance)
Local library (not only for book donations. Sometimes groups that meet there need craft supplies)
Antique stores (some buy outright if you have what they want)
Food pantries (for canned and nonperishable goods)
Local churches (for dishes, gently used kids’ clothes, winter outerwear, personal care items-ask for a complete list of needed items)
Toys for Tots, Angel Tree, etc (childrens items, wrapping paper)
Local colleges-especially a foreign students’ league (bicycles, bedding, clothes)
Nursing homes (craft items, some clothing items, personal care items)
Emergency centers-such as are set up after a tornado or flood (bedding, towels, personal care items, clothes, food, sometimes suitcases, toys, heavy protective footwear-check before sending items since every emergency creates different needs and since drop off points may change quickly)
Local freecycle groups
Local buy/sell/trade groups
Dry cleaners and laundromats (hangars)
Use your imagination. What other ideas do you have?

185 hangars are leaving!!!

I didn’t realize it was THAT many. I’m so excited! And even better, I think I’ll have a few more to spare after I do all the laundry; I just don’t want to give away too many and then realize I needed some.

I took in four boxes and a 10 gallon bag of stuff for donation today. It looked like I was moving. I still have lots to donate, but it’s getting better!


Hmmm… maybe I should start all my posts with “I lost ___ pounds!!” (of stuff)

Getting there

Two bags of fabric gone this morning (one 10 gal and one walmart bag), another ten gallon bag filled with clothes…

I am now down to right at 80 hangars! That may still seem like a lot, and I agree that it is. But that’s down from over 210–I now have on 38% of the clothes I started this journey with, and that excludes the folded clothes (four drawers, two cabinets, and a large suitcase) and those I never seemed to have enough hangars for.

The more I get rid of, the more I want to get rid of.

Today I did the kitchen drawers. Why does one person need 20 forks? I now have:
four place settings of silverware
four glass glasses
four plastic glasses
two spatulas (yes, I really did have 6-7)
three wooden spoons (I forgot I had any)
two dippers
two plastic spoons…

And even as I’m typing I’m wondering what I’m thinking to keep those. ..

That’s better. Another spatula in the trash (it wasn’t worth keeping-ick!) and another spatula and a spoon in the donation pile. Yes, I need to get rid of more. But if I get rid of too much at once, I might start to feel deprived, and that would be counteractive. I want to prove to myself I can live without it before I get rid of all of it.

Everything I get rid of makes me a little more excited at this point. Tonight it’s cards and wedding stuff from the wedding that never was. And hopefully at least one more bag full of something… clothes or fabric or shoes, I don’t really care. Just something. Maybe a quilt, some afghans, a quilt rack…

On my hit list still is:
more fabric
folded shirts
pots and pans
queen sized mattress
extra light fixture covers

People are beginning to look at me strangely. I don’t need the money; I just don’t need the stress.

*later: I have two big boxes and a 10 gallon bag ready to go. I think I’m going to have to divide it between thrift stores so I don’t overwhelm anyone.  Got rid of almost all the cards and wedding stuff. Yeah! The really nice thing is that a neighbor’s house just sold, and there are a lot of nice empty boxes in their trash right now. So I’m just running over and getting what I need, which makes less for the landfill and less gas to find boxes fore me.

*even later: I got another box filled to overflowing. Hopefully the overflow and a little extra will fill another box before donation time tomorrow. The poor volunteers at the local thrift stores! I have enough stuff to provide for several households, right down to the five vacuums. Hmmm… and that’s another thing I need to get rid of.