It’s that time of year again...
If you’re a seasonal purger like me—someone who edits down their closet and belongings to create a fresh start and declutter— then you probably have your own little routine that works for you.
I start by blocking off a chunk of my calendar like it’s a waxing appointment or a dinner party...because if it’s not in my calendar, then it probably ain’t happening.
So Why Do I Purge
There are many reasons to assess, sort, organize and get rid of your things...say for instance...to experience life-changing magic according to Marie Kondo’s New York Times Best Seller and oh-so-trendy guide.
I didn’t read that one but have been a self-proclaimed minimalist for awhile. For me, it started when I had to pay for a suitcase to fly home with me from Alberta to Ontario. A suitcase, mind you, that I had not opened the entire 7 months I lived out West. Part of me was like, I’ll just leave it behind, it’s not worth it. But I didn’t, I paid for it to travel with me even though I couldn’t tell you one thing that was in that suitcase to this day.
That was definitely my “I have too much stuff” a-ha moment and consequently, my “I hate checking luggage” moment too. From that point on, I decided I could and should live with less. Especially when travelling.
So why do I purge? I purge because I like to know what I own, where the stuff I own is stored and that the stuff I own is the stuff I truly love and use.
Buckle Up, It’s Purge O’Clock
Okay, so what do I need to make the spring clear-out feel less like a chore and more like an awesome date with me and my belongings...quite simply these four things:
1. A Glass Of Wine
Because. Well just because. I’m not going to explain this one.
2. A Killer Playlist
Something high energy and empowering. Let me suggest a fun and upbeat playlist to be the soundtrack of your purge party.
3. Tons of Floor Space
I like to clean my floors and then dump literally everything in my closet onto the floor.
My style is destroy now, then rebuild with thorough consideration. When I see something on a hanger all neat looking and comfortable, I’m not hard pressed to really assess it.
When it’s crumbled on the floor I have to pick it up and think about it for a minute. It’s already out of my closet, do I REALLY want to put it back in? Or is it time to let go?
4. A Target
How do you know when your purge is complete if you don’t have a target?
Target #1 of course is to clear the stuff off your floor!! But that doesn’t mean putting everything back in its place and return to square one (if that’s your target, wrong blog, please move along!)
Target #2 I like to clear 10-20% of my stuff each season. It’s mostly visual but when I’m not too busy, I’ll actually count out and take inventory of all my clothes and shoes and subtract from there.
From that point I start my “hells yes” and “hells no” and “maybe” piling system. Having a hard time sorting with these terribly vague terms? Try “did I wear this in the last 2 weeks” as a measurement or maybe try “would I buy this again if it were in a store” method.
Another awesome trick is at the beginning of a season, hang your hangers one way and switch the hanger direction ONLY if you’ve worn that item. By purge time, you’ll see the hangers that have not been switched and know what stuff you love to wear and what stuff is just taking up space in your closet and your life.
Whoa, but where did all this STUFF come from?
The thing about stuff is that it seems to accumulate without any warning. One concert t-shirt turns into 5 or 6 after the summer. Then there’s the whole collection of stuff that is just for what if scenarios.
What if we go out for a fancy dinner?
What if we go hiking?
What if I spill wine on this white dress and I need a second white dresses just in case?
What if I need clothes for painting?
Can you guess what scenario is the most likely of them all…
As I get older, I am more aware of all the things I purchase on impulse and the affect it has on me and the planet. Although I get that hit of dopamine from buying something new, I feel like the more stuff I own, the more stressed out I get.
It’s almost as if the things I worry about get fragmented and parcelled out amongst the stuff piling up in my closet. A worry here, a worry there...it might sound silly to some, but it’s true for me.
And then there’s the weight of it all—and I’m not talking about the kind of weight you can measure on a scale. The truth about the impact of fast fashion on our planet is coming to the surface and the waste and pollution created by the fashion industry are becoming harder and harder to ignore.
A Life with Less Purging Means A Life with Less Stuff
While there’s no denying the desire to keep up with all the latest trends will always be there for me, I’m starting to think about what I consume more and more every day. While I’m far from being perfect or even close to zero waste, I’m trying to only bring into my home
- things I actually need
- things that are made sustainably
- things that are second-hand
And take better care of the things I already own.
These days, you can find unlimited inspiration on the internet of people leading the way. Here are just a few of my favourites:
- Rob Greenfield who famously wore a trash suit around NYC is challenging himself to a Nothing New for A Year 2017
- Jenn Im is a famous YouTuber who I have been following for many years and I love how she does Thrifting Hauls to show her millions of young and impressionable fans how buying second hand can set you apart from everyone else—you just have to give it a shot
- Natalie Kay Smith from Sustainably Chic is someone I discovered on Instagram and she’s amazing at reviewing and putting the spotlight on sustainable and ethically made products and clothing
- The good people of Journey To Zero Waste group that has grown from 10k when I joined a few months ago to over 30k and is just a wealth of knowledge for awesome upcycling tricks, product information and a place to ask questions about waste reduction. It’s great for support and encouragement as well, because sometimes you need that too.
So I’ve drank all my wine, now what do I do with all this stuff?
I tackled consuming less in general but of course there is the big question of what you do with the stuff you don’t need anymore.
Here is a non-exhaustive list of where your old clothes can go:
- Donate to charity
- Resell through second-hand stores or consignment shops
- Textile recycling centres
- Pass down through family or friends
- Attend or organize a clothing swap night
Or if you’re crafty:
- Remix your clothes like these shirt ideas
- Make reusable shopping bags
- Never buy a new rag again
- This rug used to be old clothes
- Quilting is cool - like this baby onesie quilt!
However you do your spring cleaning, I wish you good wine, good music and a better relationship with the things you own and love :)
Are you a minimalist wanting to lessen your eco footprint?
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