Waste Not Want Not

In the mail last week I received, from my mother-in-law, an article cut from a newspaper. The story was about a Brisbane family who set themselves a resolution to buy nothing new for 365 Days. Before I even got past the first sentence of the second paragraph I was inspired to write this blog post.

The first sentence of the article read ~ “A hair band was nearly her undoing.” ~ and right then and there I knew exactly where they were going with this story. You see I had the same epiphany one day when considering the purchase of a packet of hair bands. I have mentioned it before in this post which read…

I have about six hair ties bands. Yes that is right those little elastic rings to put hair in a ponytail. I keep one in my purse, one in a drawer downstairs to save me running up when I need one and there is often one in my hair. That doesn’t leave me a lot of spares so I am careful to keep a track of their whereabouts. In the past I bought these by packs of about 50 and as a result I didn’t bother to be precious with them. This doesn’t cause me extra work it just makes me mindful to put them back where they belong. It is not going to save me a fortune but it will help to reduce the number of them that go to waste.

The more we take things for granted the more careless we are with them. And that is another reason why decluttering and not having excessive backups on hand is advantageous. We take more care and don’t waste what we have, which is better for us financially, liberates space,  and is better for the environment.

Today’s Mini Mission

Declutter something that although it brings you happiness you really would rather the liberated space.

Eco Tip for the Day

Waste not, want not. ~ Don’t waste even the most trivial little things. Every little bit of waste eventually adds up.

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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About Colleen Madsen

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


  1. Colleen – is there a link to the article by any chance?

  2. Pens can be like that too. I used to have oodles of them all over – some worked well and some didn’t. Now I have a pen in each place I want to have a pen, they all work, they stay where they are supposed to, and life is a little bit simpler.

    • Pens-ah, I still have too many, but I have pared down to just the ones I actually use. Now I am still giving away extras of those.

      • Angela – A year or two ago, it took me an entire week to go through all the pens, pencils, and markers in this house. A bunch of them went to my daughters’ school for those girls who can’t seem to remember their supplies. Because these were the stumpy pencils, poor quality pens, etc., my husband and I jokingly referred to them as “the pencils of shame.”

    • Well done Rebecca. I used to have a bit of a pen hoard also. Once the kids left school I realised that they were never going to diminish in number so I donated them to the thrift shop where I work. I later donated another batch to the school up the street from my house. I think a certain person doesn’t realise that they bring them home from work on Friday and they never go back. So they still tend to accumulate but at a much slower rate.

  3. Children are now notorious for that. There is such ABUNDANCE of toys and a seemingly endless source of them (grandparents, gift occasions, parents) that I see too many kids treating their toys like nothing special. Even the ones they claim to love get no special treatment!

    “Why are you being so rough with that?” I plead.
    “Oh grandma will always get me another one if it breaks” they chime.
    Gobsmacked and angry, I am at a loss for words, no matter how much I might think to protest, I know they are speaking the truth and it breaks my heart.

    I have talked about that with my parents, and we have been working together to try to improve the quality (and emotional value) of the gifts instead of quantity. It’s an uphill battle thanks to their conditioning so far…

    • Something that gets rid of that attitude may sound a bit extreme but works-tell them that if they are *intentionally careless* with a toy etc. so that it is needs replacing, they may not ask for it as a gift nor buy a new one if they are given money. If they didn’t care about it the first time, they can’t bring another into the house. Also, if things are mistreated, let them know they will be passed along to someone else to appreciate. Of course explain this all gently, clearly, and lovingly. 🙂

    • Hi Creativeme, you are on the right track to change this situation. It is only you and your influence on those involved in the problem that will effect change. I wish you luck. With Christmas on the way now is the time to turn things around.

  4. Colleen, I always look forward to your posts & words of wisdom. As you’ve decluttered more & more & have entered into the realm of eco tips & such, I keep thinking that you need to check out the Zero Waste Home blog & book by Bea Johnson. (You probably already know about it, but I didn’t know if you have read her book yet. Much of her book would resonate with the direction you are heading, I think.) http://www.zerowastehome.blogspot.com/ Funnily enough, she also just had a post about ponytail holders too. Again, thanks for your gentle guidance & wisdom on the path to decluttering. I’ve been slowly removing things each day, often using your posts as a guidepost, & am definitely feeling lighter & happier.

    • Hi Stacia, thank you for your compliments on my blog. I am aware of Zero Waste Home but I must admit have never read her book and only occasionally looked at her blog. I have not checked it out for a while. Thank you for reminding me. I must take a look now. It might inspire some posts for next week. I am also glad that you are making progress with your decluttering. Good for you!

  5. Colleen, you got it. Pony tail bands, barrettes, paper clips, rubber bands, pens, pencils, and on and on. I went looking for some cheap stuff along these lines one time and you had to buy such big packs of them. Why? Because we have been taught to not take care of things and in some cases to only use them once. I”m still working on some of these kinds of things with Mom.

    • You have it right to Deb. There are so many of these “Throw Away” items we are too careless with. With fear of repeating myself, I will tell you a little story from a couple of weeks ago. My hubby and I were doing our grocery shopping on Sundays as is our habit. We got to the baking isle and I reach in to grab a roll of aluminium foil (first time in years I think). As you know cling wrap etc is also sold from this area. My husband said to me. Wow, that is the first time in a very long time I have seen you pick something out of the section of the supermarket. I was pretty pleased with that reaction from him.

      • Good story about the foil. It’s great when someone notices things like that.

      • Brandi, the bank teller I deal with for my work, takes the paperclips and binder clips off the checks and throw them straight into the trash! She says otherwise she’d be able to open a office supply store at the end of every day. I taught her right quick to return those things to me.

  6. You could declutter the hair Colleen , then there would be no need for the hair bands 😉
    I don’t think I could go 365 days without buying something. I like to have a choice and be responsible for my decisions, not have unrealistic restrictions placed on me.
    We buy things everyday like electricity, water, gas, entertainment, healthcare so what exactly are these people not buying?

    • Hi Wendy F, I read a blog (that is currently in hiatus) of the same kind. Electricity, gas,… are not really “things you buy”, they are more things you pay for. What they are talking about in this blog is that they are not buying things except toiletry, food, if you need to go to the doctor… They are not buying things like clothes and others. Entertainment is not really a thing, unless you are talking about video tapes, books, etc. I also read a bit of another blog (I can’t remember the address), it was a woman who decided to wear the same dress everyday for a year.

      • I enjoyed a book called Not Buying It by Judith Levine, which describes a couple’s attempt not to buy anything but necessities for a year. She was inspired by a miserable holiday shopping experience to stop buying things for the next year. She’s an engaging writer, and they were quite thoughtful in how they approached it. For example, they decided what kinds of food counted (e.g., they did not buy crackers) and I think they did not pay for entertainment. It’s a good and seasonally appropriate read.

      • One Dress Protest

    • Yeah Wendy, you decluttered the hair and it looks great.

      It was a buy nothing new situation. They could buy secondhand or receive hand-me-downs etc. But on the subject of gas and electricity we could manage with using a lot less of that too in most cases. 😉

  7. OMG. Staples. We have so many unused staples and rarely staple anything. I don’t know why my parents bought (at some point in the distant past) two big boxes of staples. We also have a huge box of safety pins. Something like 300. We rarely use safety pins. I don’t even know.

    I like the hair ties – I think they are called ribbon elastics or something – that are supposed to be super gentle on your hair. I’ve only seen them available in packs of three. They haven’t broken in my hair the way traditional hair ties/ponytail holders have. I keep track of them because I like them and they are durable.

    • Hi Rachel W, the items you mention here are all ones that many people would have an overabundance of. Quite often they are cheaper to buy in bulk so that is what happens. Then it is easy to be wasteful with them while they clutter up storage space.

      In contrast I like to buy in small quantities and enjoy the challenge of making things last.

  8. Wow. Someone finally expressed the whole complex relationship I have with hair bands in one paragraph.