A couple of months ago I read a really inspiring article about a family who decided to simplify their lives by limiting themselves to 100 items each. And they were hardcore about it – they counted sheets, towels, clothes, dishes, you name it. It led to all kinds of cool lifestyle changes for them, including having to work way less because they needed less “stuff” and, accordingly, less room for their stuff. You can read about it in Canadian Family online, here: http://www.canadianfamily.ca/2012/09/100-things-how-one-family-discovered-that-less-is-more/
And while I briefly entertained the idea of taking on a similar challenge, the truth is I’m not even remotely that hard-core. I started to think of all the things that would have to be considered surplus… my necklaces (for some women it’s shoes), my cooking gadgets, my craft gear, my many, many books. I got sad just thinking about parting with all of it. Though it is tempting to think about embracing a truly minimalist lifestyle – the freedom, the disposable income… but in the end, I know myself, and I’m not just not an extreme personality.
But I was drawn to the spirit of the idea, so it’s been stuck in the back of my brain ever since. And with our pending move, I finally figured out a way to honour the idea, without having to live without my hair dryer. As we move into our new, larger home, it’s going to be tempting to fill it up with not only our current belongings, but all kinds of new purchases. We’ve already made promises about not going out to buy a bunch of new stuff all at once, but instead to buy things slowly and deliberately, sourcing locally, second-hand and conscientiously. But what about the mountains of stuff we have in storage, that we’ve clearly learned to live without in the last few months? While there are some things that I miss desperately, I’m sure there are lots of things I’ve forgotten I even own.
So I’m planning a massive purge. In the unpacking process, I will put two giant containers in every room, labelled “donate” and “toss”. And I promise that we will get rid of at least 100 items. In response to my partner’s question, no, a box of screws will not count as 100 items. It will count as 1. A pair of gloves will count as 1. If we get desperate I may count each spoon or mug individually… I’ll endeavour to keep a list of most of what we get rid of, so you can live vicariously through my purging, and perhaps be inspired to do your own. Or maybe you’ll find some useful things amongst the list, and we can barter! Though I’d have to give you two things for each one I took, in order to stick to the pledge…