From the Archives ~ Reassess what need is

I brought this blog post up from the archives to once again make the point of what need really is as that is the theme for today’s mini mission.

I mentioned many time how little we really do need as opposed to what we “think” we need. We really only need food, water, shelter and love, it is a little more complicated than that but not as complicated as we tend to make it for ourselves.

You only have to look at the photos of all the things I have decluttered from my home to see how much stuff we had that we thought we needed or wanted, only to find that sooner or later we discovered we didn’t need it after all. Somethings took longer to get rid of than others and that was often due to not being quite ready to part with them because we though maybe we still need them. Here are some examples…

  • Some we haven’t used for sometime but maybe one day we just might.
  • Some had been in use until recently but even though they were useful we really weren’t going to need them.
  • At least one was something I thought would be so useful when I acquired it and I used it once in about seven years.
  • One just didn’t really fit in the house anywhere anymore.
  • One got used once a year to cut leg ham at Christmas.
  • Two never did perform the job well that they were designed for.
  • Changes of diet, climate and dwelling had a hand in some of them not being used anymore.

They all look useful enough right? It could be very easy to hang on to all of these things with the idea that our circumstances might change and we will “need” them again. Circumstances such as lifestyle, living arrangements, interests, returning to old habits and the like. But please take another look at all of that stuff. What among it is necessary to survival. None, thats how much. And there is still plenty more where that lot came from like the crutches in the garage cupboard that have come in handy three times in five years, the spice chest that only half the drawers hold items that could easily be stored elsewhere, the wine glasses we really have too many of, lots of craft supplies etc etc.

How many items such as this do you hold on to because you think you might “need” them some day. As Lena said in a comment once “Everyone chooses their own games.” The beauty is you can change the game rules if you want to or even the game itself if you like. Take a chance and play the declutter game instead of the clinging to things of limited use

Today’s Mini Mission

Declutter something of little value that you think you might have a use for some day. If you haven’t used it for some time the chances are you never will have a need for it and if you do you could either borrow or buy one. Hint ~ Be realistic about the difference between need and want.

Today’s Decluttered Item 

Earring I no longer wear

Eco Tip for the Day

Another workplace eco tip ~ Instigate a recycling bin in the lunch room for cans etc. Even if you have to bring the contents home and dispose of them in your own recycling bin, at least you will know they aren’t going to landfill.

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 ~ Thursday 21Dec2017 Declutter your fridge of out of date items or by using up as much as possible before adding more. With the holiday season here you will likely need every inch of spare space.
  • How little we really need Every time I go on a long vacation I am reminded of how little one really needs to live a comfortable and functional lifestyle. My husband and I often stay in Airbnb places when on […]
About Colleen Madsen

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


  1. Funny! This goes with a conversation I had with Mom this morning. We have found a recipe for a gluten-free pizza crust. She asked me, “Did we get rid of the baking stone we had?” I said, “Yes. we gave it to ___. But we still have the cookie sheet we have used for years.” Mom, “I know but it would have been nice to have the baking stone.” Me, “But we don’t need it.” Grin. AH yes, want and need are two different things.

    • Deb J – I have a baking stone, it came with the oven which came with the house. I have never used it as I didn’t know what I was supposed to use it for – ironically I use my cookie trays to bake our pizza’s.

      • Moni, you can use it to back anything but I honestly can’t see a NEED for one. There are many things that work as well and are used for other things too.

    • Hi Deb J, I used to own one of those pizza baking stones but I found the after a while the oil that soaks into the surface got a rancid smell about it. Needless to say I decluttered it. Did you find the same problem with yours.

      • So far ours hadn’t gotten that way but we didn’t use it as much as most. And we haven’t used it at all for the last 5 years or so.

        • I bought one of those pizza stones from a friend who was big into those home party sales. It was actually too big for my then oven so much so that I could not close the oven door. We would try tilting it to fit but the pizza would slide off. We tried using it with the oven door ajar but that is just not effective & made me a nervous wreck. So it went into the cabinet & stayed hidden.
          Then one day it broke. Just sitting there. Broke. In half. Right about the time I began seriously decluttering the kitchen.
          It’s like it knew it had no future at my house & the devil it knew was better than the devil it might meet at the thrift store.

          • I love this story Jane. We got ours from one of those home party deals too. We did use it but only for a short time and not for pizza. It was one that we got from having a party for a new demonstrator so we didn’t even pay for it.

          • Seems like the universe did some natural progression decluttering on that pizza stone. One less decision needing making. 😉

  2. Having both grown up in families where NEED was paramount and WANT was seldom met, we do know the difference. ‘Need’ is still a major decider for me but it can backfire. We looked at a lovely set of drinking glasses this summer and I made the mistake of saying, “But we don’t NEED them.” So Ian bought them, not because we needed them, but because he COULD. A small indulgence, and a minor rebellion against the strictures of our upbringing. The good ending though was that the old mismatched glasses went directly to the thrift store instead of into storage in the basement in case ‘we need them someday.’ This, at least, as a new and welcome change in behaviour. (and I like the glasses too).

    • Wendy B – good to hear that Ian still has that Bad Boy thing going! Good thinking to send on the mismatched glasses instead. Adrian is getting a bit the same way, now that we can actually see our stuff on the shelves etc, and now that they’re set out all roomy, he’s pointing out things that look a bit tired or have chips and cracks etc. There is always some impoverished student hovering on freecycle delighted to take old stuff for free. In the dinning room dresser I had a whole cupboard dedicated to wine glasses all mismatched and different sizes. Obviously I’d just added to and added to over the years. When I pulled them out, I could only make a set of six champagne glasses and a set of six wine glasses, so I advertised the rest on freecycle. Our local kindergarten grabbed them, not for the teachers but for they have a catering team that raises money by catering small local events.

    • Hi Wendy B, I think that purchase wasn’t so outrageous since they are something you use all the time and are enjoying them. I am very glad that the old ones didn’t end up in the basement. Well done there.
      That being said, your story is well related to a quandary I have been in for a while. We own two different sets of wine glasses. We used to own a lot more but the others have been decluttered. I hate both sets that we still have. One is thick and clunky ~ I do not like thick, heavy glasses ~ and the other are huge, cheap and nasty. Because of my eco sensibilities I am having a hard time justifying and resisting the urge to donate them to the thrift shop and buying myself a set of twelve matching new glasses. I have been on the look out all year for a secondhand set without success. I know I can buy a box of twelve for only about $20 at the liquor store which although inexpensive are a nice shape and light to hold which I love. The question is, am I being ridiculously adherent to my eco sensibilities.

      • Colleen, get the new nice glasses you want! I too feel awful when I buy new stuff, but sometimes it is just such a pleasure and even relief to get EXACTLY what you want, and you’ll end up enjoying it so much more. Think of it as a reward for all the other eco-friendly things you do 🙂

        • Hi Colleen! I don’t think you are being “ridiculosly adherent to your eco sensibilities”, you are just very consistent with what you advocate in this blog. That being said, you don’t like either of your sets. It’s not like you are going to just trash them. If you donate them to the thrift shop, somebody else will get a lot of use out of them. And you will be buying new glasses that you will enjoy a lot, for it will be a well thought decision. And glass can be recycled as I have found out here in this site and in this one So, as long as you dispose properly of your glasses, someone else (that might find them beautiful) will use and enjoy them and in the end, they might come back to you…in another glass.

        • I cheated and told Bridget that if she felt compelled to buy me something for Christmas to get me the glasses I want. She couldn’t quite get her head around why I didn’t just buy them myself. She just chalked it up to Crazy Mom and left it at that.

      • Colleen – get the new glasses. They already exist and I’m sure you will easily freecycle or donate the other glasses who will probably be exactly what the recipient wanted, consider it a swap. I’m sure you have plenty of eco credits saved up to splash out on such a little item.

        A glass of wine is an enjoyable experience and I feel that a nice glass is the icing on the cake and consider it a gift from you to you.

        • Thank you Moni. Although I never use the “They already exist” excuse because we could all use that on everything. You are right though if the old glasses spoil the experience of a nice glass of wine then it is a shame.

      • Colleen, I’ve been green so long I practically grow my own chlorophyll, but I realize you have to go on living. Being green doesn’t mean it has to suck all the joy out of your life! Don’t go on using something you hate. If the glasses are what you want, buy them and release both the old ones and your guilt. Having been able to pass our old glasses on, I have no problem with the new ones and enjoy them.

        • Well said Wendy B!!!
          Love the chlorophyll comment. Will think of a green frog, whenever I read you post.

        • Thank you Wendy B, now that I think about it I never bought either set in the first place. In fact I have never bought wine glass at all. I received several sets for my wedding. I regifted one set, donated two others and were left with the best of a bad bunch. Probably time I bought a set that suits me.

        • Wendy B, you knocked that funny right outta the ballpark! LOL

      • Hi Colleen
        Use the Cost Benefit Analysis ; you will see and feel the benefit of visually, pleasing glasses. The cost will be long forgotten after the first glass of wine 😍.

      • “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” – William Morris. Your current glasses clearly fail the second part of the test, so go buy new ones!

      • I’d say buy them and make yourself happy. Sometimes that is necessary, even for strict satisficers and for the greenest of the green. Because being conscious and being frugal should not equal being miserable and you are clearly not doing it on a whim.
        But, just a thought: You are thinking about moving. Fragile glasses are a pain to pack and move and you might enjoy the convenience of just donating your old glasses prior to moving and buy new ones when the move is over. There are a couple of things in my house that I think about this way. Not worth the cost/risk of moving so I postpone the indulgement and I’ll be all the more grateful to buy new then.

        • Hi Idealistin, I actually used your plan with our Christmas decorations when we moved to America. They were old and ugly so I left them behind and stared afresh when we had our first winter Christmas in Seattle. What a fun Christmas it was that year. Even my husband got excited and hung lights all over the house. With that thought in mind, what I save in electricity by not running Christmas lights will more than make up for a few wine glasses.

      • This kind of problem is something I allow my birthday and Christmas to solve.
        If I have something I don’t like or is not working properly anymore (but still can be used) I put it on my wish list. And I’m very specific about it.
        So even though gift giving in my extended family is normally limited to some homemade cookies and gifts for the kids, if someone wants to give me something special they will know what to give.

        … and I have the benefit of being reminded of these kind people whenever I use such an item.


        • Thank you for that idea dagmara, I has actually already thought of this and suggested it to my daughter yesterday. I had better show her exactly which ones I want so we aren’t back at square one on the 26th of December. 😉

      • Colleen, Absolutely buy the glasses. You deserve to have nice things that bring you joy to use and look at. Donating the two sets of glasses you hate that someone else will love is a very good thing. It’s a very bad thing if every time you use the glasses you feel negative and bad feelings. Get them out of there. Also, you’ve more than done your part eco-wise and will continue to do so, I know, so that a new, well thought out purchase every now and them shouldn’t be a problem.

        • Hi Jennifer L, when I suggested to my daughter to buy the glasses for me for Christmas she said she would be happy to have one of the sets for herself when she moves into her own home next year. That will save her having to buy her own. In fact I think one of the other sets (I had too many that were given to me as gifts) are already in a box in the garage for her.

      • Good grief girl! Go buy the new ones, thrift the old ones and enjoy the ones you like.

  3. Ah, yes — the new glasses! A while back, I did the exact same thing. And as soon as the new ones came in, the old ones went out. I knew just the person who needed/wanted the old ones and she was thrilled to get them. And I have been enjoying my new glasses ever since. I broke one recently and did not feel bad about it because I’m using them. I’m enjoying them. And if they all get broken — oh, well…

    • Good for you Mary Ellen. Things getting broken is just a fact of life. Of the meagre few Christmas decorations I have kept I managed to break on when setting up the “tree” on Sunday. Oh well too bad was my only reaction, oh except for the “Oh crap, now I am going to have to clean up that mess!”.

  4. Happy St Nicholas’ Day to everyone who is celebrating today!

    In my town, he brought along not only nuts and gingerbread but also a whole lot of snow and storm. Very wintery wheather.
    Though I’m not a huge fan of winter, I love snow. 🙂 I hope you are enjoying your wheather, too!

    • Oh, I would so like to see snow right now. I love it too. I miss winter Christmases. I hope you had a wonderful St Nicholas’ Day Sanna and everyone else who celebrates it.

    • Ooooo, a kindred spirit….I don’t care for the cold, but I just love snow, always have since a young child. Happy St. Nicholas Day to you also.

  5. Great post! I find that the things I am contemplating, over time, I realize that I truly do not need them because as you wrote, there are only a few things that we really need. In the kitchen especially it has been easy to let go of things since there are so many items that do double duty in there. It makes the decision process easier.

    Get the new glasses!

    • Hi Jen, you are so right about the kitchen. I love it when I make things and there is no decision as to what utensils, bowls, dishes etc are to be used. If by chance I do encounter one of these decisions it immediately makes me think do I need both these things. The possibility in these circumstances is that one will end up decluttered.

  6. We are in a similar situation with dishes. I don’t love the dishes we have. If we move this year, I’d like to leave behind the old dishes, otherwise replacing the old dishes with one set we love could be next year’s Christmas present.

    • Hi Rebecca, my daughter bought me the glasses I wanted for Christmas and I am so happy with them. She is also happy that she can take my old ones in a couple of months when she is planning on moving out.