What I’ve learned from 30 days of less

In an effort to simplify and reduce, I started a little challenge last month. The challenge itself was simple: give away or discard an item I don’t need, everyday, for 30 days. I could discard more than one item if I could, but the challenge itself was creating a habit of reducing items that are not useful, not beautiful, not essential.

Some days I went through an area of my house, like a drawer and looked for items I didn’t really use, need or like. Other times looking for things to discard got me into a full day or deep cleaning my kitchen, adventure from which I am still benefiting weeks after it happened. Oh, the beauty of less.

Because I wanted to be able to later learn from this (and also as a way to further collect all the things I didn’t really need) I made a page in my bullet journal on which I listed everything I let go every day.

two handmade t-shirts detail
Two of the basic t-shirts I made this year. The fabric is thick and soft and they fit just right

The firsts two weeks were easy, in a sense that it was easy to find things to get rid of, but they were also more time-consuming, as there were areas in my house that were just drawers or boxes of miscellaneous stuff I didn’t remember I had or even kept. On these days I would get rid of anything from 10 to 20 objects or more.

The first two weeks I went through:

  • my kitchen and removed all duplicates, tupperware and canning jars I was saving for some imaginary moment in the future when they would come in handy
  • bathroom: cosmetics, hair accessories
  • yarn stash: I gave away some yarn to a friend who wants to learn knitting and donated some I knew I wasn’t going to use with pleasure anymore
  • books and magazines
  • wardrobe
  • office supplies and all kinds of non-important papers

During the third week it became more challenging to find things to remove because I had already tidied the most cluttered areas of the house and I removed fewer items everyday, 2 or 3 on average. But I noticed that now I had a very good idea of what I owned and where it was stored. The question I asked myself most during that third week was “Why am I keeping this?”. It seems like a simple question on first glance, but the truth is sometimes you just don’t know the answer.

The last week was maybe the hardest, because I was trying to find a balance between reducing the things I owned because I didn’t need it and getting rid of stuff to satisfy my self-imposed challenge. It’s the week I removed some of the items I was most stubborn about.

What now?

Well, I will take a break from the challenge for a month and revisit it in October.

The most striking realisation I had during this challenge is how little we really need to buy. Chances are, we have everything and most likely more than we need already.

As an effect, I felt it was very difficult to buy new things (apart from groceries and replacing essentials around the house). I am still on a ready to wear shopping fast since last March, which had already reduced the number of clothes I bought in the last year and a half. Not shopping for clothes pushed me to sew the things I really needed and wanted and get the right cut, fabric and feel. As a result, maybe more than half of my wardrobe right now is made by me. Probably 80% is either made or altered in some way by me.

The 30 days of less challenge also affected my sewing and making. I started more challenging projects and embraced the idea of slow craft (not at all natural for me).

I’ve sewn a lot from my stash. I’ve reduced my scraps stash from three big bags to one little bag by making gifts, toys, reusable bags and even a quilt-like thing (definitely not my thing, but I really to appreciate the work (art?) and love some modern quilts out there).

Last but not least, my house looks better (cleaner and airy-er) and I also feel better about creating space (both in a pragmatic and a figurative point of view).

So, if you feel like you need a breath of fresh air this September, why not create a similar challenge for yourself?





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