Experiment with going without

Sometimes, when it comes to the stuff around our homes, we continue to own things just because we always have. To have them has literally become a habit. Fortunately any habit that has been created can also be broken.

There are two ways that you can experiment with breaking the ownership habit. The first, which we have spoken of in the past, is to have a trial separation from a selection of your stuff. Choose things that you are on the fence about decluttering, then put them away somewhere out of sight for a selected period of time. If you haven’t had the need for these objects during the trial period, or perhaps learned to improvise in order not to need them, then you are safe to send them permanently on their way, if you so choose.

The other way is more suited to less permanent objects, items that come, are used up and then usually replaced. Products like toiletries, cleaners, paper products, cooking ingredients, wrapping materials etc. You’d be surprised how many of these items inhabit your home, and how much you really don’t need many of them.

The experiment to declutter such items is to use up your current supply and choose a trial period of time during which you do not replace it. If, at the end of that period, you have happily survived without said product you just don’t ever replace it. If living without it was unpleasant then you have lost nothing and can go back to purchasing it again.

There are many of the second example above that I have decluttered over my years of slowing purging my home of unneeded stuff. Plastic wrap, cleaners, makeup items, stationery items, craft supplies, cooking ingredients, toiletries… Some I have gone without altogether while others I just keep less variety of. Either way I am wasting a lot less space storing them. And I dare say I am also having less impact on the environment.

I am still slowly eliminating more and more of these products as time goes on, and I feel better for it. I am continually discovering that there are so many things, that are of little value to me, that I can happily live without.

What items in your home have you experimented with doing without? Please share your stories with us. They are all successes whether you decided you could or couldn’t live without them, because at least you were brave enough to give it a go.

Today’s Mini Mission

Declutter something from outside.

Eco Tip for the Day

Eliminate as many chemicals as you can from your home. There are many natural products that can perform the same tasks with a lot less impact on the environment.

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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  • You just never know. Firstly I would just like to apologise for my recent extended absence from the blog this month. Unfortunately my mother took ill and I rushed off interstate to visit her in hospital and to […]
About Colleen Madsen

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


  1. Like you I decided to do without plastic wrap. It was an easy decision since I found it so hard to use, with it clinging to itself. I haven’t used plastic wrap for 3-4 years and haven’t missed it.

    I also decided 20 years ago not to add salt to food. I’ve had one box of salt for 20 years, I need to get rid of it.

    Also used to use a special cleaner for eyeglasses, but found good old liquid soap & water work just as well.

    Now if I good find a good way to clean mirrors & windows I could get rid of a cleaner. Anything you’ve found that works?

    • The most important thing to cleaning glass is the right cloth for it, I found. You don’t need any cleaner, but the right tool to wipe it dry. I have found different materials to work well…

      • Hi Calla, I use two microfibre cloths, one damp, one dry. If that isn’t working for you try a concoction of 500ml water, 1/2 teaspoon dishwashing liquid, 1/2 teaspoon dishwasher rinse aid and 100ml white vinegar. Put this in a spray bottle and see if that works for you.

    • Vinegar in a spray bottle and newspaper to wipe it off.

    • Calla, a microfiber cloth that is barely damp is great for mirrors. Vinegar and water in a spray bottle wiped dry with a microfiber cloth is great for windows.

      • I have a microfiber cloth and a jug of vinegar, so I’ll give that a try
        Thanks everyone!

        • Hi Calla,

          Don’t remember where I saw it, but I read that you should dilute the vinegar with water to use on mirrors or glass… otherwise over time it will “etch” them… I don’t know whether it is true

    • Calla, I havent managed to get down to just a microfiber cloth and water yet, but I HAVE tried a lot of homemade window cleaners. My very favorite came from Donna Smallin. Here it is:

      1/4 cup sudsy ammonia
      1 cup rubbing alcohol
      1/2 teaspoon dish washing liquid (I use Dawn for everything)
      1/2 gallon of water (I like to use distiller so there are no minerals in the water.)

      It works great. My problem is that hubby keeps buying cleaners, especially the window cleaners. I guess I am going to have to put some blue coloring in mine so he won’t know the difference.

      I also make my laundry detergent and have a favorite all purpose homemade cleaner or two. I haven’t spent anything on chemical cleaners in a long, long time!!!! Of course, I suppose ammonia is a chemical . It is also easy to make the homemade version of Dawn Direct Foam for pennies, and it is the very best thing to wash your eyeglasses with!!!

  2. Forgot to say that I haven’t had a microwave in 10 years. People find it weird & wonder how I survive without one. I don’t even think about it unless someone says something about me not having one.

    • That move sure would make my kitchen bench look a whole lot less cluttered.

    • I don’t have a microwave, either, which people find odd. I just don’t like them. I also don’t have a dishwasher, but I would LOVE one. I’m so tired of doing dishes.

      • I hear you. I packed away two thirds of my kitchen. that way, I am forcing myself to do the dishes when there is not a lot to wash.

        I don’t own a microwave or a toaster and I don’t miss any of it ever.

  3. Personally, I haven’t used cling wrap for many years and just recently took it up (for things I just didn’t do before). I want to work out other ways to perform these tasks, but haven’t quite found them yet…

    • Hi Sanna,

      I dislike cling wrap (hard to use). I use reusable bowl covers. However, other family members purchase cling wrap for our home, so I’m stuck with it 🙁

      • I don’t use it for covering bowls – I just use the good old plate-on-top-of-bowl-trick. 😉 (to cover plates, I use the good old bowl-on-top-of-plate-trick. 😀 )

        No, I use cling wrap e.g. to tightly wrap dough etc. – I can notice a difference between other covers (even most “tight” containers) and quite air-tight cling-wrap-wrapping. I think, marmelade glasses would do the trick, but they are too small sadly for my needs…

        • haha – you made me laugh out loud. I learned the plate-on-bowl-method from my dad, I use it so often and I always feel very smart… I do however have cling wrap and use it on rare occasions…

  4. Heh. Here is one that’s easier to do with a kid. Getting the store is a chore so we end up going without unintentionally! (And yes, sometimes decide to not bother replacing. Other time whatever we are out of is the motivation to go to the store!)

    • That makes sense to me Kayote. Not wanting to go to the store often motivates some interesting cooking experiments in my house. This generally works well for using up leftovers.

  5. No cling wrap -food goes into glass container
    Windows-vinegar and chamois cloth
    Microwave-using it a lot less, maybe 2 times per month. I read excerpts from a book called something like the “secret life of water”. I don’t know if the science behind that book is true, but just the THOUGHT of eating damaged molecules (water or food) turns my stomach.

    • Now that is interesting Gail. It never occurred to me to use a chamois. Which bring to the fore the fact that there is one going begging in a box in our cage. Living in an apartment with no car washing facilities means I now take my care to a local car wash establishment. I shall retrieve that chamois and see how well it performs in the house. If I am not loving it it might as well be decluttered.

  6. I wish I could get Mom to stop using plastic wrap, plastic storage comtainers, paper towels, etc. We pretty well use up most other things or if unopened we give to someone who will use it.

  7. What about a bed? Not a success story (yet) but a plan. If anyone knows about Japanese-style futons, I’m considering getting one of those. Can’t be less comfortable than my old lumpy bed, right? I can’t exactly *do* anything with the bed, living with mum still, and I think she’d flip her lid if she knew I was considering sleeping on the floor, but the bonus of the futon is it folds up quite nicely. Pick a former-clutter-hotspot-now-empty-cabinet and pop it in there every morning? I’m considering it.

    My brain’s also gone crazy and decided it wants to save up and go to New Zealand for a bit (I should note, by the way, that NZ is a few hundred miles away from being the exact opposite end of the world from me). Considering how much that’d cost, I’ve found motivation not to buy… well, anything. For a long time. Plus, to tie the two paragraphs together, a large suitcase could happily hold a well-compressed futon and a minimalist’s clothes, right? ^_^

    • Hi Niriel!

      We changed to futons about a year back (that said, I had the chance of trying sleeping on one before that) – I love it!! It really is a much better use of space not to have a bed taking up a whole room.
      For most, it takes a few nights to get used to sleeping on it – it’s harder than a Western style bed, but on the plus side, boyfriend never complained once about back aches since we changed to them… 😉 However, I doubt that you can fit a futon AND clothes into a suitcase – they’re not that small after all – I’m sure that you could bring one as one luggage piece on a plane with you though. 😉

      • You don’t know how few clothes I have. I’m 100% sure I could squish my entire wardrobe into hand luggage, let alone suitcase! Thanks for the reply Sanna 🙂

    • I used a futon for years & loved it. I now have a lumpy mattress, this was a good reminder to look into futons again. Thanks Muriel!

      Can’t remember why I switched to a standard mattress.

    • Hi Niriel, my sone had a futon/folding sofa. After a while he chose to sleep on the carpeted floor. Don’t ask me why. That when on for quite a while but when we moved back to Australia he went back to using the futon.

    • Nuriel – LOL we do have beds/mattresses in New Zealand, it would be ok to leave yours at home. And you’d be welcome to stop over with us during your travels.

      • Maybe you have better rented beds than we do here in England, but I’ve slept on a few where a bare floor would literally have been preferable…! Thanks Moni – I’m nowhere near able to afford it, but I’ll be sure to let you know if/when it’s going to happen 🙂

  8. Nobody in our family takes sugar with their hot drinks but I always had it in the house in case an occasional guest wanted some. Then I realised that the castor sugar I keep for baking cakes would be fine for sweetening the odd drink, so I got rid of my other sugar.

    • Hi Puddlekin, I reduced the varieties of sugar in my house too. But now that you mention it I could use caster sugar all the time too instead of wasting precious space in my pantry. I must run that idea past my husband. I shall also check the price difference. I could always go the other way and keep the chunkier sugar and grind it to caster on the rare occasions when I bake.

      • Puddlekin and Colleen – I eliminated castor sugar a year or two ago, we do stock white sugar which my daughter uses for baking instead, she doesn’t grind it up or anything, just pours it into the bowl. No one seems to notice.
        I do also stock soft brown sugar and raw sugar. I’m wondering if I were to take the raw sugar container and put it on the bottom shelf of the pantry if anyone would notice it was missing? Could be a simple experiment.

        • Hi Moni, you would be better off hiding the white sugar and keeping the raw. Lower GI is better for you.

          • Colleen – younger daughter who likes to bake wasn’t happy about that idea. She feels she compromised using white instead of castor sugar. And we do appreciate her cupcakes and cookie-pie when she makes them so we’re inclined to agree to this.

      • Hi Colleen,

        What is caster sugar?

        • Peggy, that was my question, too. I live in the USA and we don’t have caster sugar.
          From what Moni said above, it must be finer than white sugar. If that is the only difference, everyone could eliminate it because in the US we only bake with regular white or brown.

          • Caster sugar is just a finer version of ordinary sugar, used for cake baking.

          • In the US caster sugar is called bakers sugar, it is just white sugar that is more finely ground so it disolves easily when mixing for baking. A relatively new concept in the US. When I first went to live there in 2000 there was no such thing to be found. US sugar does seem to be a finer ground in the first place so bakers sugar almost isn’t necessary.

  9. I have also donated all my gift bags and am going to make do without.

  10. I can’t think of anything, but there must be something!

    • Moni – yes! Ziplock bags.

      • Now that is interesting to me Moni. I have always loved Ziplock bags. They really are the most useful things. I was kind to the environment by washing them out and reusing them until they got beyond useful. However, these days I rarely ever use them, by choice, I still keep a few around because they are necessary to put liquids in for international flights. This generally means that I just have a few in a drawer instead of three boxes of various sizes.

        • Colleen – I used to love Ziplock bags, they were the ultimate tool for organising clutter for me. Little bags of this. Little bags of that. Need to return something to someone? Put it in a ziplock bag! Then I decided not to replace the boxes of bags when they ran out and no one seemed to bat an eyelid. Not sure what we use instead, its been a couple of years since we had them, so they didn’t occur to me initially.
          I have heard of someone using one of those sealable bank deposit bags (the plastic kind) for sealing the liquids for international flight. At my bank they even come in two handy sizes.

          • I found a clear plastic sealable bag in the cosmetics area of a big box store like Wal-Mart. It was indicated as being for air travel. It’s really nice. I keep it with the travel stuff.

          • This reminded me – we were packing for a trip a few months ago and I realized I didn’t have any quart size Ziplock bags for liquids in my carry on. We usually have several around but I think one of us had a liquid’s leak the last trip and maybe tossed those bags out, they were pretty worn to start with. Anyhow, my husband was down at the store and I phoned him to pick me up a box of quart size Ziplocks. I didn’t expand on why I needed them, I kind of thought he’d know…..we were packing at the moment. He came home with 2 boxes of quart size Ziplocks – 40 in each box! 80 Ziplocks! He wasn’t sure what I needed them for and wanted to be sure he got me enough. 🙂 I was thinking that our little store here would only carry the boxes of 10 – 12 each and even then I’d have too many. Now I’m drowning in Ziplocks. I suppose I could have returned a box but before it occurred to me both boxes had been opened, one by me and the other by him. I had previously eliminated all excess Ziplocks by using them up, so now I have another Use It Up challenge on me. This one will be years!

          • I still have lots of tiny ziplock bags among my craft supplies. They get used over and over again for this and that. I have had that supply for at least 10 years so I doubt they will run out any time soon. When they do I doubt they will be replaced.

  11. I would love to dispose of the microwave, but we use it several times a day to . . . wait for it . . . warm up the cat food and half & half for our indoor cat as well as our feral cat. And truthfully, we probably use it to reheat leftovers a couple of times a week. 🙁

    I am a fan of reusing Ziploc bags as well. I try to use reusable plastic storage containers so that I don’t contribute as much of the cling wrap to the trash heap.

    Not sure if this counts or not, but I’ve been trying at least twice during the work week to not use concealer and powder and I never use makeup on the weekends. Maybe I’m scaring people – not sure. But I’m just trying to give my face a break.

    Puddlekin mentioned gift bags. I could probably reverse that and get rid of wrapping paper and only using gift bags. 🙂

    • I gave both my daughters gifts recently in fabric gift bags, then asked for the bags back for “next time”… I got them back right away! 🙂

      • A while ago I started making fabric gift bags and most of them were returned to me, but I’ve noticed recently that the recipients are keeping them and reusing them themselves, yay! I enjoy making them, I think they look so pretty. I also hem squares of fabric for wrapping – furoshiki style – but people aren’t so keen on them. I have one small crate where I keep my bags and no longer have to cope with lots of paper gift wrap and sellotape. I think it looks classy!

        • Hi Janetta, I love the idea of fabric gift bags, a real Japanese concept. I think I will get some nice fabric and give that a go. Nothing ventured, nothing gained right?

        • Janetta,

          How do you make the fabric gift bags? My sewing skills are very basic, but I do have a sewing machine. Is it easy? I now have to look up wrapping with fabric squares as it sounds interesting.

          • Hi Donna. I’m in the process of making a pile of fabric gift bags too. They can be as simple as taking a rectangle of fabric, sewing a bottom and side seam and tying it with cord. Mine are a bit more complicated but still very easy. If you ask Colleen for my email address I could send you directions and photos. WB

        • When I was a teenager, my brothers went through a phase of wanting to wear long shorts rather than pants. So my mum cut off and hemmed their pants, leaving a bunch of tubes of fabric from the pant legs. I sewed shut the raw edges, threaded a cord through what was the hem, and these made fantastic toiletries bags, shoe bags etc. One I even gave back to my brother who ended up in the army – he said all his mates thought his toiletries bag was fantastic and wanted to know where they could get one! 🙂

    • Hi Michelle, I would like to give up the microwave to but it gets used more often than the stove top so it will be staying.

  12. I’m working on getting rid of all my perfume and candles. I’m trying to use them up. I have found I’m allergic to some of the perfumes and figure some people the smell bothers them. The candles I love but my husband always worries about fire and the older I get, I am too. I would feel awful if the house burned down because I forgot a candle burning. And hubby would never let me forget it!

    I’m also doing with less shapes of pasta. I’ve just been buying the penne and using it for all pasta dishes. Even lasagna.

    This may seem weird but I save used paper napkins that I get at a restaurant and bring them home. I use them to wipe grease out of pans from cooking instead of using a good paper towel.

    Colleen, I also wash out plastic Ziploc bags to reuse, but I hate the job so much (and also to save on using plastic) if at all possible I try to use the Tupperware I have.

    • Hi Cheryl,

      I always get a napkin when we go out for coffee, since I can be very clutzy. I bring these home too and they are used either as napkins or crumb wipers and/or they go into the compost (paper is great for compost). I also got rid of some of my colognes by taking them to work. And hubby uses one of his as a bathroom “air freshener”. The Ziploc bags I use for many things. This morning I used a Ziploc to dispose of a chipped mug (both gone, so win win) 🙂

      • Peggy – in the glove box of my car there is always a stack of serviettes from cafes or McDonald’s drive thru. My husband laughs at me but they do all get used as I no longer keep wipes or a box of tissues in the car. There you go another thing I no longer stock.

        • Moni – I keep baby wipes in my car for messes or sticky hands… and Kleenex for runny nose, lipstick blotting… and occasionally some extra napkins… Is this overkill??? LOL

          • Whenever we go to a BBQ place that has packets of hand wipes on the table, I grab 4-5 and put them in the truck. Is that bad???

          • Peggy – I used to have wipes, tissues and excess serviettes from McDonalds. For some reason they always hand out a stack of them and so it grew from there. I imagine when I no longer go thru a McDonald’s drive thru my supply will dwindle and I’ll go back to wipes. You have to do what works for you. If we get an extra straw from McDonalds I hang onto that too. Sooner or later we find we’re one short. There was also a joke that I kept one on hand in case of an emergency tracheotomy, but no nothing so heroic.

          • Michelle – they’re there on offer. They’d take up less room that a packet of wipes, so I say go for it.

        • wow. I am doing the exact reverse and don’t take cheap paper towels from fast food restaurants… I try to manage with the little packet of tissues I have around. I would rather see the restaurant produce less rubbish and therefore pay for the good well produced (=recycled) tissues I can buy from the store.

          funny how everyone has a method.

    • Hi Cheryl, I only have one scented candles left as of Monday so no issue there for me. I will keep the three perfumes I own. The pasta I got rid of years back. There is some spaghetti in my pantry that I am thinking of throwing out as it has been there for so long. We try to stick to lower carb food options and since our son moved out pasta is rarely if ever on the menu.

  13. Going without something is like quitting smoking, you think you can never live without it , then you quit and think how did you ever smoke!
    I have recently deactivated my Facebook account, it was just a time wasting habit.
    I buy raw sugar and mill it in my thermomix to make castor sugar.
    I’m experimenting with online grocery shopping. I have tried the home delivery , which is good if you are home all the time to wait for them to arrive. I prefer to use the Click and Collect method. I order and it is ready to be collected from 7am.
    We have used low ph body washes for years in preference to bars of soap. Pintarsol or Sebamed come in a pump bottle and sit neatly on the shelf. No gooey small bits of soap messing up the shower.
    I love how some products now come in their own ziplock bags. I try to keep them and reuse them.

    • Wendyf – I have recently gone back to doing online grocery shopping, we get to choose a two hour delivery option, so I always go for the evening 5.30 onwards option and I just inform the family that someone needs to be home for the groceries. A few years ago our delivery guy look remarkedly like a famous (and great looking) sportsman, so myself and my girls were almost fighting to open the door for him. My husband wanted to know what all the fan-girl-ing was about and was “wow that guys looks just like SBW” and so every Friday he joined the stampede to the front door. Unexpectedly we got an elderly guy doing the deliveries and he looked a bit startled at the avalanche of people at opening our front door.

      I told this story to a friend who said she too thought he looked just like SBW and enthusiastically opened the door for the grocery delivery. She thought maybe she’d scared him off, it was good to hear it was probably my household.

      • Late last night while trying to get to sleep I clicked who SBW was. I’m sure any supermarket who used him for a delivery person would triple their home deliveries!

        • Wendyf – Yup, I told my sis-in-law that there was a Sonny Bill Williams lookalike delivering our groceries and she signed up straight away too. Certainly got word out and about in our area for the online service.

    • Hi Wendy, I dare say giving up just about anything is easier than giving up smoking, so if you can manage that you can managing giving up most other things. Oh! Except coffee of course. 😉 The housecleaner in me would love to give up the bar soap and move to liquid but there is just something in the tactility of using a bar v liquid that I just prefer.

  14. This is a great blog post, and a timely one for me. We are currently having a no-spending challenge at our house, which forces you to really look at what is a necessity vs. a want. We’re using up what we have in the pantry, etc. It’s a fun experiment.

    Other than that, let’s see. I guess the biggest one is that we don’t have a TV. We actually don’t miss it at all.

    Regarding some items mentioned above: I’ve used a futon mattress before. Very comfortable! I don’t think I’ve ever purchased plastic wrap. I no longer buy perfume or candles. I don’t have a coffee pot. I don’t have extra bed sheets. I don’t have kitchen gadgets. That’s all I can really think of. My house sounds pretty boring, but it’s not! 🙂

    • Hi Melanie, there is nothing like a no-spending challenge to make it clear what is necessary and what isn’t. I guess I impose such challenges on myself at times just for the fun on it. Things often are never purchased again as a result.

  15. We haven’t had a TV signal (cable, whatever) since 1999. Do not miss all the blather and the advertising. We DO have a TV set for watching movies we borrow from the library.
    We don’t have a couch or coffee table — armchairs and small round tables are much more versatile.
    I would rather give up my seldom-used oven than lose my frequently-used microwave.
    Ziplocs are useful and versatile. I’m still trying to use up a roll of cling wrap so I guess that means I don’t use it much.
    We did not have a cell phone, and didn’t want one. When Ian had his heart attack we suddenly realized how useful a cell phone can be! Now we have one. I might even learn how to use it.

    I just asked him what other people have that we have voluntarily given up and he said, “Sex”. Isn’t he helpful…

    • Oh, Wendy B, that is funny what your husband said! Did you ask him if he had been thinking of volunteering since that was on his mind?????? Ha!

    • Wendy B,

      Your post was so funny! I agree, I would give up my oven (not stove-top, just the oven part) before my microwave. I like cooking on the stove-top or crock-pot. I don’t like using the oven. And my husband and I didn’t have cell phones for a really long time. But the new cell phone technology is amazing. They are tiny computers! It took me a while to get used to my smart phone (it’s a lot smarter than I am), but it really does make my life easier. I can check email, read the internet, text my family instantly, for free, thousands of miles away (I think this is a real miracle, frankly), pay bills, and of course, make the occasional phone call. LOL.

      Your Ian sounds like a hoot! 😉

      • Melanie – I’m more or less the same BUT I do love cooking in a tagine – its the Moroccan version of a crock pot – but everything is soooooo tender. We bought an induction cooktop and so can’t use it on that now, so I’m going to try it in the over this weekend.

    • Hi Wendy B, we gave up the home phone instead and kept the cell phones. As you say, they come in real handy at time. Many people I know also don’t have home phones any more. As for the TV, I could easily give that up but I am not the only one in the decision making on that.
      Sadly, I don’t think that giving up sex is going to make much difference to how cluttered your home is unless of course you had some aids that went with that activity. 😉

  16. A few things I grew up using, but once on my own, never incorporated into my lifestyle:
    Paper napkins. Disposable cutlery. Disposable cups. Paper Plates
    Chest of drawers/Dressers
    Coffee Table
    Saving the “good stuff” for company
    Extra towels and Sheets
    Paper Towels
    Mr. Just-in case items
    Anything extra
    Stockpiling things
    A mop (I get on my hands and knees)…no Swiffer for me

    I never started using “shower gels” when they were introduced, so didn’t have to stop using them ditto for flavored coffee creamers as milk does the trick for me.
    I keep my rather small supply of cleaning products in one area, not duplicates all over the house.
    I eliminated fabric softener years ago and substitute white vinegar when needed.

    The list could go on and on…..

    • Ah yes Kimberly, I didn’t think of all those disaposables. I gave them up too. And most of the good stuff and use the rest. Extra towels and sheets are mostly gone too.

      • Years ago my aunt was saving a set of her dish towels that had been embroidered on. My other aunt saw them and asked her, what are you saving them for, your husbands next wife !?

  17. Like you Melanie I only have one set of sheets per bed. I hate folding fitted sheets and this solves the problem. I wasn’t able to go to one set per bed until my daughter got past the toddler stage. I’ve done this for so long I didn’t even think of it until you mentioned it.

    • Me, too, Calla. I have commented on our one set of sheets per bed policy before. It just makes so much more sense. I do have 1 extra pillowcase per pillow for those rare occasions when one of us has a cold and you change the pillowcase daily. Limiting our sheets and towels afforded me the opportunity to re-purpose our linen closet for other uses.

      • Kimberly,

        One of my previous sheet sets came with four pillow cases! I liked having the extra pillow cases to rotate on a more frequent basis than washing the sheets. But I haven’t seen that again in sheet sets. I’ll just have to remember to wash the pillow cases more often. We don’t have a ton of towels, either. Like you said, it allows me to use our (tiny!) linen closet for other things (in our case, bulk toiletries that we buy at Costco).

    • I don’t think I could do that, mostly because I’ve never had (and don’t want) a drier! Sheets don’t dry within a day here in rainy England… I do only have two sets though.

      • Niriel,

        It totally makes sense to have two sets of sheets if you hang your laundry out to dry! Nothing worse than damp sheets!

        And good luck, by the way, with your dream of going to New Zealand. You can do it!

        • Thanks very much! I’ll be sure to let everyone know how my plans go 🙂

          Of course, only having two sets of sheets proved interesting that one time set #1 was on the line soaking wet, and I spilled a glass of water all over my bed… but then, that soaked the mattress so no amount of dry sheets would have saved that night’s sleep :/

    • Hey Calla,

      With kids, I’m sure it’s a different story! But I have never had room for extra sheets. I just put them in the wash and back on the bed on the same day. And I cannot fold a fitted sheet to save my life. I’ve watched Martha Stewart do it several times (not in real person, LOL) but I still can’t do it.

      • Hi Melanie,

        We have to “fold” a lot of twin size fitted sheets where I work (think massage tables). I use the “spin” them around the forearm method. They don’t look that great but they are usually used the same day anyway 🙂

        • Martha Stewart would not approve of the spin-around-the-arm technique, but I certainly do! LOL.

  18. My toaster and crock pot just sit around and I’ve written about them on your site before now.
    I finally let the toaster go though the crock pot lingers on .

    Also I was trained early on to always keep backup supplies so I’ve got at least two cupboards full of shampoo, etc. I am working through those and trying not to buy more… for now.

    My ultimate decluttering approaches as I finally sold my house and am preparing to move into an apartment. I’ve still got time but am so tempted to move into a bachelor suite and not a 1 bedroom.

    No doubt I will go for the 1 bedroom in the end though the idea of a simple bachelor suite is so very tempting.

    Having to practice keeping the house neat and tidy for house showings has really been a treat. In the future I may have to pretend I’m selling again to get myself to clean up and dispose of things I don’t really need or use.

    I’ve got another box load of stuff to go and am working through my yard as well. So many tools I won’t need anymore… wonderful.

    Thanks for the continued inspiration.

    • Hi Ron, I could just about give up the toaster too. Or at the very least switch it from a four slice to a two. It would at least use up much less room.
      Good idea using up those backups. Most of it isn’t even necessary and certainly not needed in a crisis.
      We had the apartment size dilemma too, although there are times when I wish we did have a small study. Until cleaning day that is.

  19. This is a timely post as we are in the final steps of designing our house and many things are far more expensive than we anticipated. We have to decide on the fine balance between saving money and still having the right things. It is also a challenge to convince the designers/builders that we don’t want a lot of the ‘standard’ stuff which to us are unnecessary decorative touches — crown moldings and a “tupperware drawer’ in the kitchen. It is making us think hard about what we really NEED.

    • Hi Wendy B, and when it is a place you plan to be in for the rest of your life who cares about whether it is less suitable for other people. Do what you want I say.

    • Hi Wendy B,

      We will probably never be in the position to design our own house… But that doesn’t stop me from dreaming… Golden foyer (think National Geographic border) with hooks for coats and a bench for shoes and boots… Room in the living room for a gas “fireplace”… Enclosed back porch with shady yard, fenced in for the dog we would have… Separate rooms for myself and my husband (he has an adjustable twin bed, I have the double bed)… All one floor… 2 bathrooms… Wood floors… Siding and insulation for sound and temperature regulation… Attached 2 car garage… Small yard with adequate parking space 🙂

      • Well, Peggy, it STARTS with the dream and you take it from there, although there’s no shame in dreaming just for the sake of dreaming. With the exception of the wood floors your dream house doesn’t sound an awful lot different from what we’re building. A mansion it is not, but it suits our needs and anticipated needs as we age. W

  20. I have way to many of lots of toiletry items and personal care items. I am using them up as I need them (without wasting them in an effort to “use them up faster”) and I won’t be replacing many of them until I get down the last bottle. For instance, I have about 10 bottles of shampoo. I won’t be buying anymore until I get down to my last bottle then I will get only 1 new bottle, thus reducing how many I have in storage in my home.

    • Good idea Kayla. Moving from America to Australia forced me to use up toiletries and I have never gone back to backups. Can’t say I have ever gone without either.

  21. Nice post, Colleen! I like the experimentation concept you suggested. It’s doable and non-threatening. We don’t have a sofa, coffee table, end tables or a home phone. I find that sometimes when we think that we cannot possibly do without something and we are then forced to do without it for a period of time, we are able to adjust or make do. You might never know if you don’t try.

  22. oh what a great inspirational post – I loved the comments!
    I never used or owned the following things, even before decluttering times, so I didnt have to get rid of them:
    toaster, microwave, shower gel, perfume, big coffee-machine, mixer, other kitchen gadgets, vases, skirts, thighs, leggins and high heels, sewing machine, car,
    with decluttering, I figured out what I could live without:
    all sorts of cleaning products, creams, lotions, most of “beauty products”. herb-mixtures, fancy tea-mixtures, a lot of spices, a lot of kitchen items (most of kitchen items to be honest), TV, DVD Player, Printer-Scan-copy-machine, scribble-paper, pens, craft-supplies, broken electronical items, multiple items of one thing, multiple CDs, DVDs, books (!), decoration.
    I will now get rid of:
    nail polish and remover, eye shadow, hand lotion, even more paper, the recipe collection (I will keep one or two and just put them in the big cook book), plastic bags, a couple of cleaning products, strange household things, IKEA tools, I will sort through the duvets, pillows, sheets and covers and make some sort of inventory.
    I still have some sentimental items that are hard to let go, like handbags (they are to me like shoes – I develop a rather strange attachment to them and I should so stop doing that) and a hammock (its my only “one day I will use it” item).

  23. I had 3 sets of dishes. One everyday. 2 for company. I had the cabinet space for all of them. Once I started paring down possessions I noticed I only used 2 of the 3. I offered one good set to my son and his wife. They were happy to have them since they are family pieces. The only problem is that my sister has a large set earmarked for me. … my grandmother’s set!

    • Hi Paper Doll, I am going to teach you three words that go together well in this kind of situation. “No thank you.” Things like this were handed down through families in the past because we weren’t a throw away society back then. Hand-me-downs were a case of necessity as much as anything else because people couldn’t afford to buy new. Life has changed but these old customs are dying out more slowly. That being said, you could always get rid of your everyday set and use one of the “good’ sets for everyday.