Moni got published

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.

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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

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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.
  • 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 […]
  • Getting the stuff out of your home It has come to my attention, both through comments on my blog and through real life experience, that one of the issues people have with their clutter, once they finally decide to be rid of […]
About Colleen Madsen

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


  1. How cool for Moni! Thanks for sharing this post with us again 🙂

  2. Congratulations Moni, keep up the good work!
    I’m a new follower of this blog and I have enjoyed reading all the posts and comments. Thank you for the inspiration and encouragement.

    • Saigeetha – Hi, yes I noticed you’d popped up as a new reader recently and 365 Less Things is a fun place to get ‘stuff’ under control and I’m sure you’ll have your home whipped into shape in now time.

  3. Oh well done Moni, your article is a triumph!

    I ALSO keep nice plastic bags in a bag in my craft room, although I only have one at present as a while ago I took the bags to our local opshop who were delighted. I have used them for rubbish occasionally but I prefer not to: “what a waste”!

    • Janetta – I had heard recently that Op Shops like nice plastic bags, I will keep that in mind but my stash of plastic bags is now gone and when a new one makes its way into the house (I have two teenage daughters, its inevitable) I make a point of moving it on quickly before it sets down roots in my house!

  4. Great article, Moni! and thanks, Colleen for sharing it with us! I have to admit to almost hysterical laughing at the part about her friend saving empty paper flour sacks for using to line baking tins for making fruitcakes (without EVER making fruitcakes) – because, holy cow, I’m quite like that! My husband and I are determined to simplify in every way possible. We are working on getting rid of clutter everywhere – both in our house and in our diets, our books, everywhere. I’m calling the Thrift Shop tomorrow to set up a date for next week for them to come out for a pick- up. We are getting rid of a couch and recliner that we no longer want. Also, some other furniture that we don’t need. Plus, just some clothes that we don’t need or don’t fit, and junk that I have bought for some strange reason – I was looking at our mantel the other day and wondering WHY in the world did I purchase the “decorations” on top of it? Useless stuff – just knick-knack type of stuff. So, it is GOING. Our daughter bought a “collector” doll years ago, and left it here, in the basement. Now, she has a daughter, and I have called her and mentioned that doll – either she comes and gets it, or I get rid of it. So, she is coming to get it. Because I MEAN IT! WHEW! I opened up a jelly cabinet in the dining room, wondering what was inside it. You can see how much use we make of the dining room 🙂 Anyway, there was a ceramic canister set inside, among other things. Why did I buy that? I have no idea. So, I took a picture of it – sent it to my daughter. Said it was hers if she wanted it, if not, it was going to the Thrift Shop. So far, I haven’t heard back from her. We’ll see. My husband and I are now SO aware of how much just pure junk we have purchased or acquired and now see just how simply we CAN live, that we want to get back to that feeling. When our daughter was born, we were renting the tiniest house we’d ever seen. A total of 500 square feet. It was divided into two bedrooms, separated by a small bathroom, and then a living room and a kitchen with room for a table and chairs to eat it. That’s it. A small yard, with room for the dogs to go outside and a small vegetable garden. But, we were happy. So very happy. It was small, and simple – but easy to keep up with. No closets, so not many clothes. Only one bathroom, so easy to keep clean. No washer or dryer, and we had only one car which my husband needed, so I did our laundry by hand in the bathtub (and yes, we used cloth diapers) so I washed those too. And I loved it. Life was easy. Computers weren’t around then, and cable TV had just come around, but it was not affordable, so we didn’t have it. We had silence and reading. Or we sang and made our own music. And I know that some of you may say that is just nostalgia and maybe so, but simplicity is not a new concept – just read Thoreau. Anyway, thank you Colleen. That was a fun article and it sure struck a chord with me.

    • Annie – I tried to reply to you earlier but my computer at work won’t let me post a reply. It sounds like you have some dramatic transformations going on in your house, isn’t it exciting when things get momentum like this.

      I’d heard of Walden but its not a book used in New Zealand schools so I googled it! It reminded me of a historic village that had been established on the edge of the town I grew up in. This village was made up of original settlers homes, shops, school buildings, church etc that had all been relocated to this particular site to make a museum village. At the time I was a huge fan of Laura Inghalls Wilder and this was the nearest thing I could get to her life, so this village was my favourite family outing. The houses were tiny! And often there would be a photo or a description of the original owners and the families were huge by today’s standards. The kitchen was very small and basic, and yet everything had to be cooked from scratch in these kitchens. What is more, I thought the houses were tiny when I was a young girl and the irony is that the ‘modern’ house I lived in during the 70’s (therefore my basis of comparison) is very small compared to the average house in my area.

  5. Congrats Moni! This is pretty fantastic and you should be super proud! I also keep two special bags, one from the jewelry store where my husband bought my engagement and wedding rings and one from a jewelry store where I had a fun shopping experience with my mom. A gal I work with sometimes brings her lunch in a Victoria’s Secret bag. Oh la la!! 😉

    • Michelle – that made my day about brown-bagging her lunch in a Victoria’s Secret bag. It is the funniest thing I have heard in a long time.

  6. Congratulations, Moni! I remember this article and enjoyed it then and now. We are funny human beings, sometimes, aren’t we?!

  7. Congratulations Moni for being published. That’s fantastic.

    Colleen, thanks for posting this again. I have to laugh. We have a collection of plastic store bags and paper bags with handles. We use them to take things to people or to church. The reason I laugh is because Mom used to keep every bag that came in the house. It’s been since moving here that she has realized we don’t need all those bags so only keeps a few of each. We have gone from three boxes to hold them all to a small box.

    • Deb J – wow three boxes worth of bags! Good to hear it is down to a small box now. As I go shopping these days I’ll accept the first bag and anything else goes in there too.

      • If I could we would be rid of those too. We hardly ever use them. It’s just one more thing in the pantry.

        • Deb J – perhaps you could take a leaf out of Vicki K’s book and use these bags for transporting any and all items leaving the house and they will quickly dwindle down to nothing.

          • I’ve been thinking of that but with so much decluttered I haven’t had much to take out of the house.

        • Deb J – that is great news that you’ve reached that point. Maybe you could donate them to your local goodwill store.

  8. Well done, Moni! Thank you to Colleen for republishing as the original must have been before I started reading 365.

    I have saved those bags too. The difference between now and a few years ago is that now I make myself use them! So if I need to return a baking pan or am lending something to a friend, they receive it in a pretty bag. Similarly, I have quit waiting for a “special enough” occasion to use all the pretty ribbons I have saved. Now – ANY occasion warrants a ribbon from my stash.

    • Vicki K – that sounds lovely and I do like the sound of the ribbons too. Deb J has also on a mission to use down her ribbon stock not so long ago, so maybe she will have some other ideas.

  9. Great article Moni, I enjoyed reading it and congratulations on getting it published! I completely understand how hard it can be to let go of packaging, sometimes it is as nice as the contents, and I feel like I ought to be able to find some use for it. I was surprised to see how many of those little jewelers boxes I had collected over the years, I had a large container full of empty boxes until I decided to send them on their way.

    • Christine – I remember during my very ‘progressive’ decluttering year, I came across a box which held jewellers boxes and little gift boxes. Yes a box of boxes.

  10. I replied earlier today, but found yet one more place to declutter that I had not noticed until just now. My INBOX! I tend, due to both my husband and my own physical disabilities, to be quite home-bound and therefore pretty much anti-social (well, you know what I mean) – we don’t get out much. So, in replacement, I’m online a lot. I like to read blogs and such. And so I often subscribe to lists and such – and therefore get a lot of email from them. But, in the process of decluttering, I have been working on weeding out stuff that I am no longer interested in – and just realized that I am still receiving email newsletters from blogs or organizations that I am no longer interested in. I’ve just been deleting them, but caught myself just now – and took the time to UNSUBSCRIBE from two of them. Which just felt SO GOOD! Of course, I will NOT unsubscribe from THIS list! LOL But, I must keep constant vigil on myself. I do spend WAY too much time online – I need to spend more time reading books (and of course, I have way too many books – and have finally agreed with Colleen, after quite a struggle, that yes, I CAN give some away). The great thing is that feeling that the more we get rid of, the freer we feel. Amazing!

    • Annie – I can remember early on in my time here at 365 Less Things reading a post talking about digital clutter and I was gobsmacked. Not only did I have to worry about all the stuff loaded up around my house but I had to worry about what was loaded up in my inbox and digital files too!
      I had to get my computer wiped down not after and from that point decided to send and receive my e-mail via remote inbox ie by logging on to my server company rather than downloading it to my computer. This made me stay on top of my inbox and I became ruthless at unsubscribing to unwanted mailers as this helped me stay away from stores (a bit like putting a ‘no junk mail’ sticker on the letter box). Right now my inbox does need a bit of attention as I have a fair bit on the go in my life at the moment, but as most of these projects will wind up in the next few weeks and I’ll go on a happy delete campaign!

  11. Hi Moni! Congratulations on getting published! It is a very funny and thought provoking post, because more often than not, clutter does come from the most unexpected place. (in my case it has been the same expected: office.) 😀 😀 😀

    • Andreia – hi and how are you! I can remember a time when your office wasn’t on your concern list, it goes to show the huge changes that have occurred in the rest of your house! Paper, paper, paper. Considering we live in the digital age there seems to be a lot more paper around than there used to be.

      At work I’m trying to implement a one paper policy, whereby if I pick up a piece of paper, until I have dealt with it, I can’t move on. I have this tendency to keep shuffling thru papers to find something ‘easy’ and not really making much headway. This method makes me move methodically thru the pile – I do admit I get a bit frustrated sometimes, but for me it seems to generate a lot more progress.

  12. Congratulations on being published Moni! That was a great post and deserved to be read by a wider audience 🙂
    And yes, I used to save nice bags long ago and re-use them until I got wise and now always have in my handbag one of those little rolled up bags that when unrolled become large enough to hold any purchases that I could comfortably carry.

    • Megan S – I haven’t seen one of those roll up bags in a long time. I do remember back in the 70’s those string bags. A lady walking ahead of us down the road was using hers for purchases and there was all this racy lacy lingerie showing through.

  13. congrats moni!
    yeah, we save the weirdest stuff.
    just noticed you folks are a day ahead of me , so cool!

    • Eema – Colleen is in Australia and I’m in New Zealand, I’m right on the international date line and Colleen is mere couple of hours behind. Of course, hop over the invisible line and its still yesterday. Cool eh!

  14. I ditto all the other words of congratulations, Moni. Well done. And to you too, Colleen, for giving Moni the inspiration and opportunity to reach an audience through your blog.

    I remember the original piece; it prompted me to get rid of my collects of fancy high-fashion shopping bags.

  15. My apologies to everyone, for some reason my computer at work won’t let me reply to messages here. Earlier in the day I was on my smart phone in the waiting room at physio with my daughter but the small screen isn’t convenient for more lengthy replies.

  16. Congratulations, Moni! You’re famous 🙂

    • Willow – LOL hardly. It reminds of a funeral I went to about a year ago and in the eulogy it was said that she was a ‘celebrity cook’ which surprised me, until her grand daughter leaned over and whispered “granny read her apple crumble recipe out over talkback radio once back in the 80’s”.

  17. Ho Moni, what a great reaction to your post being published. Well done. And thank you for responding to all the comments. You must be feeling like a celebrity today. 😉

  18. I thought I was the only one who saved bags! Such a relief to hear other people have this issue too. : ) I used to save all of them; now I try to just save the really nice ones and use the boring ones for collecting recycling or as trash bags. Really I should get rid of the nice ones too, but baby steps, you know?

  19. Oh Moni, that’s great you were published and can share your signature wit and commonsense experiences
    with a wider audience. I always love to read your comments here.

  20. Moni,
    Congratulations! The article is spot on! We all have those traditions that we keep alive for reasons as vast as the ocean. They become part of who we are. Every so often we are blessed with a miracle of sorts, a wake up call, that makes us question why we are doing (fill in the blank). I love when that happens.

  21. Moni,
    First off, congrats for your being published. Secondly, it’s so good to read all your notes again. I got let go from my company last July and have had so many emails on my computer at home that I could not even dare subscribe to anything there. But the last few weeks, I have been at the library using their “speedy” computer to clean out my inbox. Boy, am I proud of myself. Anyway, just wanted to say hello and look forward to reading Colleen’s blog again and keeping up with everyone. I just resubscribed at my home email so will definitely be able to keep up again. I NEED your help in continuing my clean-up efforts as home. I miss the Monday morning decluttering hints for the rest of the week.