Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle (a bit of a rambling blog)

My journey of going from ~to~

I just finished wrapping up some books for PaperBackSwap, tossed a few bags of clothes in the car to donate to my local charity and put a bag of items outside for someone to come pick up from Freecycle. I am hooked on lightening/sharing my load and have never been happier!

Once upon a time, I was a big buyer/hoarder/keeper. I would not call myself a pack rat because I gave things away often... but only to replace them with other things. My closets, drawers and countertops were always organized but full to the brim. If someone needed a kitchen gadget, a how-to book, a sewing pattern, a music CD, a DVD, craft supplies, a certain color shirt, etc. etc., they could always borrow it from me! When I was pregnant with my first son, it got worse, to the point that I would call it an obsession. My sons' baby clothes drawers and toy chests were full months before I had him or even the furniture to put the clothes and toys in. I had bought clothes, books and toys all the way up to age 2!

After Em was born and then further when I became a stay-at-home-mom/woman/wife, budgeting became an absolute necessity. I started really looking at the what and why of buying things. When I was pregnant with my second son, construction began on my home, causing me to move many things and store them while work was being done. This made me start to look at what I already had and question if I really needed it.

I started donating to my local charities and public library and eBaying other items that I no longer felt the urge to keep. Some of it was easy, some of it was really really hard... but it has all been worth it. There is more breathing room, playing room and living room in my home now. The items I've kept are items I need, use and cherish.

I'm not perfect in this system, there are some things I cannot bear to part with even if they are rarely if ever used. My cookbook collection has gone from 250+ books to about 125 or so... but I do use them! My kitchen gadget collection is smaller, as is the wardrobe in my closet, but I know where it all is and can find things in a pinch. When Ro was born, the fourteen large Tupperware containers full of rarely-used baby clothes and toys from Em came in handy... but as he outgrew things, I did not keep them. Most of the toys went to a daycare center and most of clothes went to many friends and charities. I've kept a few precious items for each of them and gotten rid of the rest!

If I need something, I buy what I need... I am not a squirrel who has to make due with what he's got for the entire winter... if I need more, I'll get more. But, I don't always need more!

This system has also worked with my older son, now three. Before, when he had so many many many toys, he did not really cherish them. A few months ago, we had an afternoon of toy purging. Any toy that was too loud was donated (without batteries to prevent ear damage!), and other toys he was no longer interested in were also donated or kept for when Ro is older and can play with them. A personal decision on quality of toys and their ability to teach things (skill builders, language, dexterity) helped weed out the selection as well. Each munchkin has a smaller toy selection, but each toy is played with... and cleanup has become much easier! Some people cannot believe I've taken toys away from my boys... usually the same people who cannot believe I've taken the TV away... but only my and my husbands' opinions matter and we believe we are doing what is best for our children.

Okay, so why all the rambling on? I don't know. I just thought I would share how it works for me, and hopefully, some of what I have gone through will help someone else to finally tackle their clutter.