I received an email some time ago from an online magazine, called Get Organized, asking if they could publish an article that they had seen on my blog. The article was written by Moni, one of our regular readers and commenters. She has been a big part of our discussions here at 365 Less Things for quite a while now and has written an article for us every now and again. She was happy for them to publish the article in their magazine and I received a follow up email last week saying that it had gone to print.
Below is a copy of the article in the magazine and I have also included the original article for you to reread. I figured if the magazine thought it was worth printing then it sure was worth republishing here. Perhaps you would also like to take a look at Get Organized for yourself. Enjoy.
KEEPING THE STANGEST OF THEINGS by Moni Gilbert
I shudder at the idea of going back to my old ways of having stuff, more stuff, stored stuff, collected stuff and yet more stuff…..and then being very surprised that the house is full of stuff!
But in spite of all that, I still keep the strangest of things. I don’t know why, there is no logic to it, but I have difficulties getting rid of empty cardboard boxes and shopping bags, especially if they are from particularly nice clothes store or from a surf wear shop.
There is a wee corner of my brain that insists cardboard boxes are useful. Maybe they are, maybe they’re not, but I can get as many as I want any time that I want from my local Pak’n’Save. I have no plans to store anything and no need to carry anything in the foreseeable future but I faithfully stack a small pile of them in the garage until finally the rational part of my brain turns up a few days later and breaks them down for recycling.
Shopping bags. I’m not talking about supermarket bags or ones from the mainstream stores, but the rather nice looking ones. I carefully fold them and place them inside a bag in my craft cupboard. There is only ever 5-10 sitting there and every so often I decide that today is the day I will declutter them, but it just doesn’t happen. The only reason I can think of is that when I was a girl my mum used to do the same thing.
At the time the economy was suffering under high inflation, extreme interest rates and a government introduced compulsary car-less day once a week to combat fuel costs. Our town was small and this was before the era of cheap ‘Made In China’ clothing, so mum sewed what she could of our clothing and we accepted and donated hand-me-down clothes, it didn’t bother us and was widely acceptable in our community.
So a pretty shopping bag represented luxury and they were probably still a new thing as I recall a drawer full of folded up paper bags used for everything from lining baking tins to art projects to lighting the fire to holding rubbish. Wherever possible, we passed on our hand-me-down clothes in a nice plastic carrier bag with a shop logo on it. Why I don’t know, as it was only being carried from house to car and car to house and wouldn’t actually be seen by the greater public, but it seemed to be the tradition.
I mentioned this story to a friend over the weekend and she got a smile on her face and told me that she keeps the paper flour sacks, to line baking tins for making fruit cake. The thing is that she has never made a fruit cake. Her mother and grandmother were fruit cake legends but the baking gene completely skipped her, but she still feels a need to keep these paper flour sacks.
Another friend religiously saves seeds from pumpkins and dries them on the kitchen window sill as her mother used to dry hers for planting, but my friend lives in an apartment block and has never had a garden.
So why do we carry on these little traditions from yester year? Who knows? Strangely I feel more of an attachment to these pretty plastic carrier bags than I do towards many other items that I haven’t thought twice about getting rid of.
So what is my strategy to deal with this? Well, the first step is to make sure that no more come into the house, although this is fairly easy as I am not the shopping fiend that I used to be but also to politely decline a plastic carrier bag or if on a shopping trip to utilise one bag for all purchases. Colleen will also advocate that this is good for the environment. I actually had to decline one yesterday – shopping for a school bag – yes, a bag for the bag!
And as for the existing bags? Well, I have a number of items on trademe (like ebay) at the moment, and I will honour my mum’s tradition of passing on clothes and use these for packaging rather than buying postal bags. Ironically this isn’t a cheaper option but it will save me from buying another plastic bag, while these hide in the cupboard.
So does anyone else out there find themselves keeping the strangest of things and if so do you know why?
Today’s Mini Mission
Declutter a couple of trinkets, knick knacks or whatever you like to call them.
Eco Tip for the Day
Choose to live in a walkable neighbourhood with conveniences close by so you don’t have to resort to taking your car out when you need something. I can attest to the fact that this is a fuel and money saver.
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