Back to the subject of need

I spent last Saturday at TEDx Sydney. It was a fabulous day with many great talks. I wouldn’t dare to pick a favourite because they were all good in their own way. But one stood out to me that I could relate to decluttering, or more so as an example of the falsehood of need. It was a lesson in substitution and imagination which is a talent sometimes handy when it comes with living with less.

The talk I am referring to wasn’t so much of a talk as it was an example of ingenuity. Of knowing the mechanics of something and reinventing it with what is on hand. The person in question was Linsey Pollak and his special subject was making musical instruments from unusual objects. I was particularly impressed when he made a clarinet from a sax mouth pieces, a funnel and a carrot.

And where was the connection between this and decluttering. Well my thought was, that we have so many things we think we need but in reality we really we could really manage without them. I though if Linsey can fashion a clarinet from a carrot then not only can I do find a reasonable substitute, should I discover I had a “need” for something I had previously decluttered, but I could have fun with the challenge. In fact I already have done this more than once and been proud of my own ingenuity.

Have you ever found yourself in this situation and figured out a way around it?

Today’s Mini Mission

Declutter any crockery that you have too many pieces of.

Eco Tip for the Day

Carpool with friends when attending social events. Consider the possibility that you could compromise on when you need to arrive and/or depart. Sometimes we are a little too spoiled when it come to having things completely our way.

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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Continue reading with these posts:

  • Mini Mission ~ Friday 22Dec2017 Declutter a couple of old shabby shoes that you no long choose to use.
  • Mini Mission ~ Wednesday 20Dec2017 Declutter by recycling some items. That mound ofused takeout containers, old newspapers and magazines, paperwork that needs shredding, glass jars you set aside in case you have a use for […]
  • Mini Mission ~ Tuesday 19Dec2017 Start a trial separation on an item or two that you are on the fence about letting go. Put this/these items in a out of the way place where you won't encounter them on a daily basis and […]
About Colleen Madsen

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


  1. I agree! I have been purging our house and just yesterday purged my work-out clothes. I realized that one reason I have so much stuff is that I want everything to be perfect. I want to have enough clothing to perfectly suit the weather situation, whatever it may be. In reality, I don’t need more than one pair of pants or running shorts or knee-length capris. I can wear something dirty or I can be a little colder or warmer than ideally, but it’s okay! (and I live where it never snows, so it would never be considered suffering, lol!) I realized the benefit of having far less clothing will outweigh any inconvenience from not being dressed to perfectly suit the weather.

    • Hi Jamie, I work out by going for long brisk walks with my husband, bicycling instead of using the car, taking the stairs instead of the elevator… and generally being a bit of an Energizer Bunny. I don’t feel that any of that requires special clothes. Sometimes I just save a T-shirt that has worn a day or two and then throw it in the wash. That usually results in energy saving for minimal laundering too. When travelling we carry the minimal amount of clothes for the variety of weather we think we will encounter. Whether we are away for a week or two months we still only take carry on luggage. We have never gone cold or found ourselves uncomfortable. It is just a matter of taking the right items to mix and match. Well done you for coming to the realisation that you don’t need such an extensive wardrobe too. And welcome to 365 Less Things.

  2. Colleen, I get a kick out of Linsey Pollak. I think he comes up with some of the best things out of “trash/rejects.” I’m like trying to come up with things to do with anything we decided we no longer need.

  3. I’m having a hard time digesting this. Maybe I’m reading too much into it. Isn’t the point to just get rid of what is not used or needed instead of repurposing it? I can understand if the repurpose is a need, but would think that most of the time it is an excuse to hold onto it.

    • Hi Anna, I think you just misunderstood me. I din’t mean to find a reason to keep something I am not using, I meant get rid of things I don’t use and find a way to manage without them should I need to perform the tasks these items was meant for. Here is a simple example of what I meant ~ Say I am procrastinating over decluttering my garlic press because I haven’t used it in some time. In the end I finally decide I can manage without it and let it go. Then I discovered a new great recipe that required crushed garlic and I wish I hadn’t decluttered it. Instead of rushing out to buy a replacement I decide to utilise a simple knife to perform the task. With a little practice ~ and perhaps a few tips from Youtube ~ I master the art with a knife and never want for the garlic press again.
      Does that make more sense to you.

      • Thanks Colleen – that makes perfect sense. Kind of like getting rid of the electric grill and using my oven to broil. Next time I make pork chops or beef stew I will use another method of cooking and then I can donate my Pressure Cooker. I must say that I am enjoying how easily my corner base cabinet spins with that big grill gone!

  4. I need a black cord for a wool skirt I have sewn. After looking in a couple of fabric stores with no success, I was getting frustated. Eureka, I pulled a white cord off a summer skirt and inserted it. I still want the black cord but I figured even though it is not ideal, it will do for now. At least I will be warm, while looking for the elusive item.

    • Well done Michele L. Improvising is such a satisfying thing to accomplish. Have you considered a large round shoelace for the cord. I am assuming you are using it in the waistline of course.

      • What a great idea. I think I will do a hunt around the house. I am sure my husband has a spare that he would not miss. Lol

  5. GracefromBrazil

    I have small table on our front porch that gets pretty weather beaten. I not-so-subtly hinted at Christmas that I would love a little table cloth to put on that when people use it. No one picked up on it so I decided that I would just look for one myself. It is a small table so I tried to use a big cloth napkin on top to cover it but there were just a bit too small. So the other day when on one of my table cloths ripped I did not despair, I repurposed! It is now my new table cloth.