Life doesn’t have to be boring with less stuff.

So today I was out and about with Wendy F and we had a wonderful time shopping and checking out the stuff on the sidewalks ready for bulk waste pickup. And yes I know what you are thinking ~ “What is someone, who writes about decluttering and being environmentally friendly, doing shopping and picking up junk off the sidewalks?”

First of all let me tell you that I bought nothing new and of course the stuff on the sidewalk wasn’t new either. So that is the environmentally friendly side taken care of. The items I purchased at the thrift shop were two reels of thread for a friend, some wooden clothes pegs for me to make some product for the art space, some small elastic bands I will use for merchandising at the thrift shop I volunteer at and a photo album to experiment with for a possible storage solution for my cutting dies. I also bought a shop display stand and some baskets for the art space I work at (secondhand from a shop that is closing down). And the items I picked up from the sidewalk were also intended as merchandise displays for the art space.

So as you can see I salvaged lots of stuff for all sorts of reasons other than bringing them home to clutter up my space. If it turns out they aren’t useful for my art space I will donate them to the other art spaces or the thrift shop so someone else can find a use for them. Better that than they get trashed. If there is one thing I enjoy as much as being creative it is repurposing other’s unwanted stuff.

I suppose it could be said that I put myself in a position to make use of things that otherwise might end up unused. And I can tell you that it is uncanny how “the universe provides”, which leads me to another point of this blog post and that is this…

Don’t ever worry about getting rid of things that you think you might need some day. Because, if you are like me, these things will just appear when you need them and for free or for very little cost. Maybe I am just lucky, or maybe I fortunate to have time to seek these things out, but one thing is for sure, they just seem to appear when I have a need for them. Or perhaps I should say a want. So when I feel that something is cluttering up my space, because I have no immediate use for it, it isn’t a hard decision to let it go.

So, as you can tell from my enthusiasm in this post, I had a fun filled day with Wendy F, finding all sorts of treasures that aren’t going to clutter up my home, that will help rather than cause harm to the environment and fill a need I might otherwise have had to spent a lot of money on, or go without. So never fear the old “I might need it some day monster” and let go of all that stuff that is no use to you now or in the near future.

Today’s Mini Mission

See if you can think of an item to declutter that you rarely if ever use, that you keep only because it is a society norm to have one in your home. I don’t have a coffee table, a barbecue, a handbag to match every outfit, eyeshadow or plastic wrap.

“If we do not feel grateful for what we already have, what makes us think we’d be happy with more?” — Unknown

Eco Tip for the Day

Seek out secondhand items before resorting to buying new. If you have a little patience the thing you need will appear soon enough and much less expensive than buying new.

For a full list of my eco tips so far click here

It matters not how fast I go, I hurry faster when I’m slow

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About Colleen Madsen

Colleen is the founder of 365 Less Things and lives in Newcastle, Australia.


  1. A very nice story. 🙂 Great to hear you had a good time.

    I’ve been a little cryptic about my move: We moved in together with friends, so we at once downsized (our personal space) and upsized (the shared home is bigger than our home before) – I’m sure, this is not everyone’s cup of tea, but I like more people to eat and share life with, so am rather happy with the situation.

    However, I found that it came rather easy for us and even easier for one friend who is probably even more minimalist in his lifestyle. But even for us “minimalists” (I wouldn’t call myself that, but after this move I am rather sure my spouse and I could fit in a tiny house of only about 20 square metres… ), we all own quirky and unnecessary stuff, even collections and supplies for a variety of hobbies. There are musical instruments, sewing machines, tool boxes, board games, plants, books, comics, special baking and cooking utensils, sentimental stuff from our childhoods, extra chairs for guests, souvenirs etc etc. – it is just, we chose what we really like, what we really want to keep and what we use (at least on a semi-regular basis).
    This is what is really interesting to me: living here I can’t imagine ever needing more things than I already own. In fact, I’d say I own a whole lot of things that are just pure luxury or fun, not necessities. Yet, I obviously own so much less than most “grown-ups”! I can only encourage everyone to purge, purge, purge. You probably own way too much and life gets only better when what you own is easy to manage. Thank you to everyone on this site who helped me stay on track, cheered me on and was just good company on this journey! 😀

    • I agree, Sanna! When you spend less time ‘managing’ your possessions, you have more time for what matters to you. My hubby and I regularly discuss an eventual move to ‘mom/dad’ quarters in a child’s home. I don’t think we’d have much difficulty downsizing even more. As long as we have books to read, shoes for walking and bikes to ride and I have my knitting needles and yarn, we will be content 🙂

    • Hi Sanna, what a great comment and I am so happy for you. I remember reading your comment right back when you first arrived here at 365 Less Things. You sure have come a long way. I hope you will be very happy in your new home. And I love the sound of all those wonderful things you collectively have that bring you joy. So much better than a load of unloved clutter.

    • I like your comment, Sanna! I think it’s great that you are keeping the things that make you happy and reflect who you are.

  2. One thing I find fun is connecting my ‘going out’ stuff with someone who wants it. I belong to a local resource exchange group via yahoo which my friend moderates. I have given away lots of items through this venue. Occasionally I will find something I want–recently it was milkweed plants for my garden to encourage monarch butterflies to lay their eggs here. If I want something, I check there first and if I am selling/giving something away, I post it there first.
    Your post title caught my attention, Colleen–life is actually way more fun with less stuff around!

  3. YAY! I love that you are able to reuse items that others no longer need/want! I think it’s great when things can be recycled into something other than the originally intended use. Some people are so clever. I’m not very imaginative that way, but Pinterest has been giving me some ideas. 😉

    • Hi Michelle, Pinterest is so full of great ideas on any topic. I am using it at the moment in preparation for an art space I am hoping to open up soon amount the same project I am already involved in.

  4. I like what you said about not worrying about if you might need something one day. It’s such a nice reminder and really 90% of the time, it turns out that we really don’t need the clutter we think we might need, and even if it happens that we do need to rebuy something, the act of decluttering, minimizing, and organizing was well worth it anyway.

    • Hi Damon and Jo. I completely agree. There is very little I have ever had to replace and even then it was because someone else in the household got a little overzealous with the decluttering. Which is why I always say “Don’t declutter other peoples stuff or stuff that is jointly owned.”

  5. Yes! “these things will just appear when you need them and for free or for very little cost.” That is SO TRUE! I can think of at least 3 such incidents off the top of my head in my own life where I actively “put it out to the universe” that I needed something and it just came along. Tell EVERYBODY the need and the odds improve exponentially that it will get solved. It’s about having faith that the universe will provide. Not a huge risk when applying the idea to “stuff” after the genuine needs of life are taken care of. Also, it leaves space open for interesting, unexpected solutions!

    • I was always a bit dubious about the “ask the Universe idea” but I decided to have a go and I learned that as long as you are clear and specific about what it is you want, the Universe really does deliver. I have written in the front of my diary ” Believe that you will always get what you need, just in time to need it”. I can’t remember where I read that first. Probably from this community!

    • Yes Creativeme, and it helps to be involved with the sort of people and establishments that puts you in a position to happen upon things easily. I may not have won the lotto but I don’t need to when I have all I need.

  6. living clutter free actually leaves more room for people and fun.

  7. Colleen, I love how you are able to have fun yet not spend on things coming into the house. I like your idea of making things work for your craft sale space. I wish more people would realize how easy it is to find things they need when they need them and for very little or nothing. For example, when our blender went out I asked my church group on Facebook is anyone had a blender they no longer wanted for sale. I was given a really good, barely used one. It’s also easy to find things to use for decorating or such without spending a bunch. We decorated for a wedding with very little cost by just raiding dumpsters behind some florest and decorating shops, etc. She wanted it to be rustic “victorian.”

    • Hi Deb J, sadly yet happily it is so true that you could raid dumpsters and find perfectly good stuff to decorate a wedding with. There is a least one guy in the US that I have read about that makes a living out of doing just that. You would be amazed, or possibly you wouldn’t, by the stuff Wendy F and I pick up of the sidewalk amongst peoples “junk”. We sometimes just go out and take a trunk load of stuff to donate to the thrift shop. It is a win win situation.

      • We had a pastor of a church when we lived in Tennessee. He furnished the church with folding chairs & tables, lights, court racks, nice coat hangers,etc from dumpsters and junk at the curb. If I could physically do so I would get out and dumpster dive and curban scavenge for stuff to give to the thrift store or such.

      • Colleen,

        LOL, Americans love to dumpster dive. All income levels, too… girls in gated communities will do it just as soon as a poor college student. (If you want something to disappear within seconds, put it near a university apartment building.) We also have tons of “antique” stores full of junk. My Mammaw calls shopping at those stores “going junking.” Haha. So, next time you want to go curb-shopping, call up Wendy F and say, “Let’s go junking!” 🙂

        • LOL, Melanie! Maybe Colleen and Wendy F could come up with a hit song to rival “Thrift Shop” by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis. 😀

  8. This is regarding “wants” or “needs”… At times in the past, I have created a “wish list” in a notebook and then forgotten about it. Months or years later I happen upon said list and it’s amazing to discover that most of the items we have obtained… for free! Examples “boom box” (w/ cassette & CD options), easy chair (both cast offs from friend), fleece pjs (repurposed separate clothing items I already had)… There were other items that I have now forgotten… It seems that if one makes an intention to find something and is patient, that thing will find them! 🙂

    • Hi Peggy, that is the beauty of wish lists. They are lists of things you don’t need immediately (if at all) so you are prepared to wait for them to materialise cheap or free rather than rush out and pay full price for them. I think that is why I do end up getting what I want that way, because I am not in a hurry.

      • Hi Colleen,

        I totally forgot the BEST freebie when I wrote that. Our neighbor was having a garage sale last year which included a double stroller. We had been scouring the internet for one in decent condition, as we were expecting our grandchildren, one and two years old, to move in with us. We went over to ask about paying for the stroller ($10) and the neighbor said “just take it, I feel bad charging for it”! It was her mothers stroller but as far as we were concerned, it was in perfect condition. A couple of non essential missing parts but not at all “ratty looking”. We have got a lot of use out of it already! We appreciate having that stroller every time we take a walk around the neighborhood 🙂

  9. Colleen, I just love reading your posts and all the comments, how you come up with new approaches each time is completely beyond me, you are brilliant! And very inspiring!

    In the last three weeks I have donated 49 items or bags of items! This includes two heavy, winter anoraks which hadn’t been worn for 11 years (but my husband always said “we might need them again one day”) – and today he agreed to let them go! This proves the gentle approach does work, but you must be patient! Also two board games to family, a large roasting dish with lid, a small frying pan, a crocheted shawl made by me (I do find it’s getting easier to get rid of stuff I’ve made, particularly since I now knit for charity as well), a wedding present (25 years) of white table cloth and napkins (hated washing and ironing it, now we use table mats and colourful napkins) and all sorts of odds and ends. Yippee!

    As you know I have been a follower of your blog for years now and have donated 1608 items or bags of items.

    I decided I wanted to follow the 333 project, so I read all about it and was excited to get into my cupboard and start counting. Well I had to laugh – I have a total of 29 items of clothing and accessories, so it seems I am already doing it! On the clothing front I have had a long hard think of what style I want to follow and since I have retired I have no need of work clothes (those went long ago) I just need smart casual: dresses with leggings, pants and tops, cardigans and a couple of jackets. Now I am VERY careful what I buy and try to make sure everything fits perfectly, looks good and is decent quality. I often shop at the opshop (as opposed to the regular shops) and yesterday tried on 23 tops and bought three which I need for this winter. Certainly simplifies life!

    • Hi Janetta, I do know that you have been reading and commenting here for a very long time now and it is a please to still have you with us. And yes you are right about the gentle approach, it is effective but takes time and patience. I had to laugh about you getting rid of the table cloth and napkins, anything that causes more work than it is worth soon finds its way out the door in my house too. Anything that needs dusting particularly unless I love it.
      I love the opshop for clothes too. Unfortunately they have recently changed the opshop I work in to bric a brac and furniture store. I could do with some new things but I just can’t be bothered to go shopping for them so will manage with what I have. As it turns out, I have more than enough. I just need to iron more often than once a month. 😉

  10. You had me intrigued with your first sentence, Colleen … especially the part about having “a wonderful time shopping” – I actually checked to see if the post was really written by you. 🙂

    I agree with you that it’s time to slay that BIMNIS (But I might need it someday) monster. I tell myself that if I fill my life with the things that I don’t need, there will be no space for the things that I want.

    • Hi Nicole V, I like your motto ~ …if I fill my life with the things that I don’t need, there will be no space for the things that I want.” So true.

      • Thanks, Colleen … I don’t know how I missed your comment the first time around. Your post provided me with lots to think about.

    • Nicole V, I love your acronym! I grew up poor with depression era parents. The BIMNIS monster is the one I have to wrestle with all the time!!!! I am doing much better these days, though, and have gotten rid of years of collections.

      • Thanks, Brenda. Be proud of what you have achieved so far and keep at it. Remember that little strokes fell great oaks.

  11. I have lived my entire adult life with the knowledge that when I needed something, it always appeared, like magic. It has happened over and over again. I also raised our daughter that often things are not meant for you, they are meant for someone else whether that be a Beanie Baby or the latest “collectible” etc. She has often remarked to me (in her adult life), it just wasn’t meant to be. Personally, I have never regretted any of my “discards”. I also believe that when we don’t have something, we always seem to find something that works. Our creativity is amazing when we unleash it.

    • Hi Kimberly, I agree with everything you say here. I love to improvise when I don’t have an item I need. My crafting is full of improvising as I try to only use what I already have. The kitchen is another good place for improvising too. And as for “…often things are not meant for you, they are meant for someone else…” my mum always said, when opting not to impulse purchase something, “If I change my mind and it is gone when I come back, then I wasn’t meant to have it.”

  12. I wish they had this system in the UK, I know when I was a child in Hamburg I had a magnificent scooter which was retrieved from kerbside recycling. Everybody gains.

  13. In response to “Don’t ever worry about getting rid of things that you think you might need some day. Because, if you are like me, these things will just appear when you need them and for free or for very little cost. Maybe I am just lucky, or maybe I fortunate to have time to seek these things out, but one thing is for sure, they just seem to appear when I have a need for them.” I think you have changed your way of thinking, you maybe be luck y too but I have learned that as I have changed my way of thinking about things, as in purposefully trying not to bring more stuff into my home, when I need something I tend to find things like you said but I think it is because I’m not in a hurry like I use to be. I think things through more and look to repurposing items instead of buying new. Most of the time if I give myself a few to think about a purchase I will come across something else that will work or another creative solution for repurposing. Thank you because a lot of my changes in thinking about things have been inspired by your blog.

    • Exactly Ginger, that is how it works for me too. That desire to repurpose things and not buy new is such a fun and money saving challenge. And I am so glad that my blog has be instrumental in changing you way of thinking and behaving in regards to stuff. Cheers Colleen

  14. Hi colleen I was just reading todays news letter and I agree with you about reusing things. I too love to do this instead of just putting it in landfill or even recycling sometimes.
    Question what is and where is the Artspace. I have heard of this before.